Creatively African.

i read an article earlier from the Wall street Journal today that suggests Africa is where the next advertising boom is at. That is so true, especially if some of the people i know have anything to do with it..

There’s this ridiculous notion that we aren’t ready for creative work where less is more and people do read between the lines. I’m beginning to see practical proof to the contrary. In the last week, I’ve had the pleasure of flying into both Abidjan and Lagos and the work is getting better and better and more and more interesting.

But, what’s good work? We’ve grown more and more inclined to judging good work by western standards, mainly European and North American. But good creative is like good food. It transcends culture and region. Good work can be appreciated by everyone. But too often, we hit a creative block because we try and conform to standards that are not ours. Standards we feel obliged to borrow from cultural contexts we do not share as Africans. So we always end up with over enthusiatic, half-baked and grossly misunderstood concepts or the infamous…

“Oooh, nice work! Simple.Brilliant. It’d never work in this part of the world tho’.”. 

But if you think about it, other regions do award winning work that doesn’t necessarily conform to western constructs and still makes an impact. For instance Asian and Hispanic advertising tends to lean more into a cultural context from which the insight and hence the creative is derived. People like Prashoon Joshi in india have shown the way with the stuff he did for Coca Cola and Happydent as seen here.

[thanks to Emmanuel Amankwah for the Prashoon reference.]

The result is work that resonates with its audience but with a quality that resonates with the rest of us. A quality that has award winning potential.

The lesson is simple. We need to embrace our own unique forms of expression in order to create work that hits the spot locally.Advertising theories, methods and technologies are generic. They are like tools that are there for us to use in the ways that produce results.The best results always come from an adaptation that best suits our personal contexts.

Like a very wise man once said to me:

Africans are inherently creative. Our language and culture oozes that. Our real task is to tap into that innate natural sense of expression to reclaim Africa’s birthright as a creative force and put it back on the pedestal it belongs.




One thought on “Creatively African.

  1. Haha… I actually meant the use of ‘good creative'(maybe we should say ‘creative work’ instead?) as a grammatically incomplete phrase, rather than the likening of aesthetically pleasing stuff to good music as an inaccurate metaphor – I think the latter quite an excellent connection to make, actually. But hey, food works too.

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