Loving, Loathing & Learning

by Carla Johnson on May 30th, 2012

Without promotion something terrible happens, nothing! ~ P. T. Barnum

I LOVE this ad.

I love it because it is brilliant on every level. It takes our notions of Africa and shreds them. Africans are thumbing their noses at us here and we are cheering them on. As North Americans, we think we can help Africa, but we do it according to our own value system looking through our cultural glasses. The nations of Africa have much to offer us and we rarely listen. Kony 2012 anyone?

It is also easy to LOATH this ad.

Easy because it is made by the Coca-Cola corporation. Easy because Coke is tapping into the the values of the continent of Africa and using them to sell more of their products – fizzy, liquid sugar. Not a single health benefit in sight, but we all love the stuff.

Here’s the thing. I’m growing tired of the trend to loath corporations. Loathing never accomplished anything. Loathing never helped us achieve one single goal. Loathing has instead taken humans down many horrible, unforgivable roads.

I choose to LEARN.

Coca-Cola is brilliant at marketing. I want to market cleverly like Coca-Cola. A great ad does exactly what this one does. It connects the product to our values, our pride and our needs. It does it seamlessly and creates a community around the product. I want to be able to do that not just to sell more and make more money. I want to be able to engage and connect in the world in a bigger way than I do now.

You may know my inimitable friend Dr. Anna-Marie Ball. She has spent her life living and working in parts of Africa and right now she is with HarvestPlus in farming & nutrition development. When she shared this video, a short discussion ensued that inspired this blog post. Here is her funny and honest insight.

“Even if I cringe that Coca-Cola put it out, the reality is that I am guaranteed a coke just about any place I go in this lovely continent. It might rot my teeth and guts but it’s not going to give me the runs – and that is something that I truly appreciate! And I do want a piece of that smartness to use in my own work!”

Look to Africa, for there a king will be crowned.
~ Marcus Garvey


From → Carla Johnson

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