Love thy enemy

By Lisa Johnson

Insight Publicis Nigeria’s Feyi Olubodun and Chima Okehimkpe spoke this weekend at Cannes about how they (or we) should view the African consumer. There was a lot of talk about ambition, modernising versus Westernising and confusing the context of ‘touching a Brazilian’, but presenter Familusi Akin Babajide (AKA Mr. FAB)’s message really stood out: “Let my enemy live long”.

So are enemies good? The quote ends: “so he’ll see what I become”. To a marketeer trained to think about crushing and outsmarting their competitors, it’s refreshing to hear. Hope your competitors do well so you can do even better – and they see you succeed.

The speakers also made clear that no matter a Nigerian’s social status, it’s his culture and history that shapes him. Like the Nigerian who moved to New York and set up a cab company called Dominion. Even in a new world, he never forgot the spirituality and aspirations of his past.

Knowing your audience is a simple sentiment, but in a world so obsessed with the next new thing, perhaps paying attention to the past is the most radical approach of all.

Sunday’s Make Some Room discussions, hosted by SapientNitro and PRETTYBIRD, echoed this. Jordan Brands’ Desmond Marzette and i am OTHER’s Mimi Valdés each spoke about diversity and placing cultural experts in the right positions, so that their unique understanding can ensure brands fit authentically into areas they might otherwise be uncomfortable in (see: HTC’s take on how to speak hip hop vs. Samsung’s Lil’ Wayne spot). In the same way, Mr. FAB believes that if an advertiser understands their consumers’ thinking, they’ll be better able to communicate. A picture says a thousand words but it doesn’t necessarily say the same words to a thousand people.

And the best way to advertise to an African?

“Let an African do it”.

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