Today, strategist Lerato Moleko, gives us some insight on the disillusion of innovation within the South African advertising industry .
Inspired by a publication imperative to any marketing/communication student- Diffusion of Innovations- I somehow felt the need to look back at my short experience in the industry I find the greatest pleasure.
I remember as a kid, how fun it was watching a great TV advertisement and laughing hysterically at its humor….then before I knew it, it was the talk of the town. A case in point was the iconic hand wash ad featuring “E menyolla mafura, e menyolla ditshila”. Fast forward to 20 something, and the phrase that pays is “Just one cup is enough”. Classic! My issue is not with particular brands nor the company’s that invest in their well-being, but rather with us as practitioners, whom in this era of SA’s second decade of democracy struggle to tell real stories to the people whom we convince to fork out their hard earned money, in support of the brands we represent.
However challenging it is to communicate with consumers in a country that hosts 50 some odd million citizens with 11 official languages, it’s a challenge we have to take on the nonetheless. SA’s middle class is among the fastest growing on the continent, if not in global comparative terms, but we still don’t speak to the people that make up that majority in a way that truly resonates with who they are.
Not sure why patronising the darkie is an instant qualifier for impact, or even worse frivolous awards. The above mentioned publication, has also brought great loath for some of the work I interact with: a certain “Ernesto” character and his cousin with a hunger monkey on his back rings a bell. No doubt the stereotypes are true; we love chicken and lickin’ our fingers after indulging, but why are the figures that are used to deliver these messages, or even the stories themselves not told by us darkies who make up the majority of consumers who show support to some of our countries’ most iconic brands? There are others who are deemed to be a Black Man’s Wish who are iconic in their status, or others who stake their differentiation in their ability to offer worldly and mind opening experiences who don’t have much acknowledgement of their most valuable supporters.
Straight question for a straight answer; if blacks are making money and moves, influencing cutural and other trends, why then is our aspiration for success modeled around brands that don’t show an ability to keep up with our changing stature in society, nor represent the people living up to their ideals of success? “One cup” may be enough, but it does not mean that I have changed or evolved to such an extent that brands should stop conversing with me in a way that would ensure immediate brand love.
PS- I Would have loved to write this in my beloved, and yet sometimes broken Sesotho, however society dictates that I speak and write in a language that will get my message across to as many people as possible
By Lerato Moleko