by Remon Geyser (@remongeyser) Nigeria has seen its fair share of social ownership. Two brands, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, both created campaigns that people fell in love with and amplified on their own steam. Our creative panel takes a look at how they did it and tries to extract the winning formula for nailing social ownership.

Social creatures

People are social creatures. Though we are individuals, we enjoy being a part of something bigger than ourselves. With the boom of social media, it is now exceptionally easy for us to be ‘social’, and words such as FOMO (fear of missing out) and JOMO (joy of missing out) speak to both the good and the bad of this social engagement tool.

In as far as brands are concerned, social media has had its ups and downs, too. While some brands have made epic blunders on social media, others have experienced a phenomenon called “social ownership” in which they created campaigns and consumers took them on and ran with them.

This term, “borrowed” from socialism, is one that speaks to the way in which people enjoy working with a social cause, taking on a phenomenon bigger than themselves and owning it, even if only on social media. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the Coca-Cola Find Your Name campaign, the Make-up Free Selfie for breast cancer awareness — they’re all examples of this.

Pepsi’s #ThingsILongThroatFor

The slightly risqué name aside, Pepsi’s “Things I Long Throat For” campaign started in a rather unusual way. A singer and high-profile personality in Nigeria, Seyi Shay, tweeted that she wanted nothing more than to be a brand ambassador for Pepsi, something that’s not unheard of but certainly not something you see every day. With this influencer on board, Pepsi created the campaign and had it amplified by Shay, after which consumers and celebrities alike it took on as their own.

Shay appeared in the brand’s TVC and the quirky, fun nature of the campaign created a lot of talkability online. But what, according to our creative professionals, made consumers take the campaign and run with it? How did the hashtag #ThingsILongThroatFor stop being about a long-necked bottle of Pepsi and start being about encompassing your desires in no more than 140 characters?

The question kind of answers itself. In the same way that MTN gave South Africans “Ayoba”, Pepsi gave Nigerians #ThingsILongThroatFor. Our panel states that what Pepsi did, whether according to a set strategy or by sheer chance, was give consumers a new way to express a feeling. Now, Nigerian consumers use it in posts to describe the way they feel, rather than anything to do with the brand (though there is obviously some brand top-of-mind awareness involved, too).

Nice one, Pepsi.

But as much as it nailed social ownership, our creatives say that Pepsi didn’t get everything right. For one thing, the TVC was not that good. Our Nigerian advertising pros explain that although the 15-second ad was catchy, it was not well-made and was limited to only Lagos and Ibadan.

Coca-Cola’s #IAmAReason

Coca-Cola always seems to get it right and, from the famous vending machines to the #ShareACocaCola campaign, the brand has no trouble getting consumers to fall in love with everything it does. This was certainly the case for the #IAmAReason campaign, which has been trending hard in Lagos and features prominent members of society telling their rags-to-riches stories in videos and on billboards.

But what Coca Cola did so well was not just profile celebrities, our creatives explain; the brand gave consumers a chance to be a part of a social movement. In a country plagued by negative media (thanks for nothing, Boko Haram), Coca-Cola gave consumers a chance to be a part of something positive and run with it on their own initiative. The brand created a website onto which consumers posted their own stories, detailing the many positive ways in which their lives have changed, the many opportunities they see in Nigeria, and the things they feel the country has to offer.

There’s only one thing the brand could have done a little more of, our Nigerian panel says, and that’s create more influencer videos that told stories of how people have risen to grace — more stories that the target audience could have used as inspiration.

Advice for international brands

Social ownership leads to positive brand affiliation and, in Nigeria, brands have the chance to create campaigns that people will want to own in a few ways. Our professional panel of creatives gives us a few pointers on how brands can do it:

  • Spread positivity – campaigns that are uplifting tend to last longer and create brand affinity. Those that focus upon the negative tend to fizzle out. What Pepsi and Coca Cola both did was create campaigns based upon the positive desires of consumers, and their target audiences took social ownership of that positivity and ran with it.
  • Always do more – budgets notwithstanding, our Nigerian panel recommends that brands should always do more, be it creating a better TVC or posting more videos on YouTube. The more collateral you create, and the higher the quality, the more your brand is able to create something people will want to own.
  • Once you’re done with your TVC, your online banners and your social media content plan, ask yourself: Is there anything I can do better? Is there more I can do? What do I have in my campaign that consumers will want to own and share?


Interested in South African trends?
10% discounted subscription rate for MarkLives readers!

Every month, Springleap provides an oversight of local trends in the South African market, sourced from among its 22 000 African creatives, with new country specific reports planned for a number of key African and Middle Eastern markets. Pricing for accessing this trend platform starts at as little as R270 a month.

Readers must use the promo code “MarkLives10” to access their discount.


Remon Geyser 2015

Remon Geyser (@remongeyser) is a burger fanatic, wine connoisseur and eSports enthusiast (yes, a fancy term for playing computer games). He is also the research lead for Springleap, heading up a new global creative research division while obscurely attempting a PhD. Springleap provides instant creative expert feedback to rock marketing ROI. Remon contributes the new weekly “Talk Africa” column, covering Pan-African trends, on


— MarkLives’ round-up of top ad and media industry news and opinion in your mailbox every Monday and Thursday. Sign up here!


Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist