Marketing campaigns that do not acknowledge local culture will fail

By our News Team | 2023

Include local words, humour, clothing, cooking styles and even cooking utensils in campaigns to resonate with consumers, conference told.

Respecting and acknowledging Africa’s many cultures is a key element of achieving brand relevance on the continent. Without it, there is limited customer connection because people want to tap into elements that they are comfortable and familiar with.

Speaking on day two of the 2nd annual marketing conference of the African Marketing Confederation, which is this year taking place in Uganda, Pheodor Mundla, Head of Marketing for East & Southern Africa at Upfield, said even a strong and serious message could be brought home through the use of local humour and local celebrities.

Marketing Conferences

Former top Unilever executive, Yaw Nsarkoh, addresses delegates. Photo courtesy of Uganda Marketers Society

“If you don’t land your local culture in your campaign, you will fail,” he emphasised. “It’s not about whether you are a local brand or not, it’s whether consumers perceive you as being local. You must communicate with a local angle, but do it authentically.”


Mundle was addressing delegates on the topic ‘Culture as the new marketing currency in Africa’. 


He explained that bringing authentic cultural messaging into a marketing campaign could include using local words, humour, clothing, cooking styles and even cooking utensils. 


Even the pace at which a video or audio campaign was being delivered could mark it as being authentic or inauthentic, as ‘pace’ differed from country to country in Africa. Similarly, it was important that campaigns originating from outside Africa should avoid “me” ideals and rather emphasise the collective values of family and helping others – which Africans empathised with.


Leaders can empower brands through big ideas


In a presentation on Leadership, titled ‘Growing resilient people and adaptive leaders’, Yaw Nsarkoh, a former top Unilever executive now working as an advisor and investor in London, called for leaders to empower their brands through big ideas. 


Like big revolutions, big brands were powered by big ideas and clarity of thought. For example, Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ positioning.


To create a revolution for the continent’s emerging brands, Africa needed to nurture its marketers for greatness, Nsarkoh emphasised.


“Global greatness, not just Ugandan greatness or African greatness. We must produce world-class thinkers in marketing from Africa,” 


As an example of a leader’s ability to create significant change through a big idea that was able to deliver, he cited Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms that had rapidly lifted 800-million people out of poverty and transformed the country.


Another example was Steven Gerrard, former captain of Liverpool Football Club, who had almost single-handedly inspired his flagging team to come back from losing 3-0 at half-time to win the 2005 Champions League Final against AC Milan.


Calling it “optimism of the will”, he said marketers needed to cultivate and “go for it when things are difficult … and take your chances when they come”.


Nsarkoh concluded his presentation with a rousing call to action: “The African opportunity is for Africans to create. Nobody will come and do it for us. Never fear. Go for it!”


The three-day conference is being hosted by the Uganda Marketers Society and the African Marketing Confederation at the Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe. The conference concludes this evening (Friday, 8 September) with an Official Closing Ceremony and Awards Dinner.

Dr Kin Kariisa

Group CEO - Next Media

Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

  • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
  • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
  • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
  • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.