Tag Archives: Nigeria

[French] Guinness, an African original…

Creative Culture sat down with Mark Sandys, Global Head of Beer and Bailey’s at Diageo, to discuss the company’s global strategy for beer giant Guinness. With business for the brand split equally between developed and emerging markets, we focused on their strategy in Africa.

Guinness has a long history with Africa. As far back as the 1800s, the brand was building its own ships, allowing it to export its products farther than any of the competition and establish a presence on the continent before any others could. Arriving in Sierra Leone in 1827, Guinness soon established a presence in Nigeria, and in the 1960s, the brand built its first international brewery in the country. This ability to brew beer in Africa, by Africans, for Africans, has given Nigerian consumers the lasting impression that Guinness is actually a local, Nigerian brand.

Although their 2014 Sapeurs campaign featured a group of Congolese men, it was never shown in Africa. Directed at European audiences – and experiencing particular success among Irish viewers – the film depicted a group of consumers who had the confidence to carve their own paths in life.

For their African audiences, the brand created the Made of Black campaign. With such a historical presence on the continent, and in Nigeria in particular, Guinness found that consumers’ impressions of the beer were growing outdated. Instead of continuing to preserve the original image that success comes from material wealth, wisdom and strength of character, they chose to re-create the brand image based on the idea that one can carve their own path in life by being successful through creativity and entrepreneurship.

Whilst there are executional differences between the Sapeurs film and the Made of Black campaign, both came from the same creative platform ‘Guinness celebrates those with the courage to carve their own path’. The Sapeurs film demonstrates this by celebrating a real group of people who have chosen to rise above their daily circumstances as the ‘society of elegant persons of the Congo’. On the other hand, the Made of Black videos have a much more dynamic image. The campaign seeks to celebrate a new generation of young adult consumers in Africa who use their creativity and entrepreneurialism to carve their own path, rather than following the traditional roles in their society. In an effort to connect the colour of its beer with the greater brand image, the video uses phrases like “Black writes its own rules” – celebrating trendsetters, rather than those who follow the ‘traditional’ path. The music, Kanye West’s Black Skinhead, plays in the background as local African artists, musicians and dancers flash across the screen in an energetic mix of images. The video was created by the BBDO offices in London and Africa, in collaboration with a ‘creative council’ made up of local celebrities and designers, to ensure it appealed to the new generation of African consumers.

Guinness 'Black' from Rogue Films on Vimeo.

However, Sandys was quick to clarify that the continent-wide approach in Africa is not 100%-homogenous. Although the brand tries to make their campaigns as universal as possible, he points out that all of Europe cannot be confined to one category, nor can all of Africa. In order to ensure that their campaigns appeal to as many audiences as possible, the same material is adapted at the local level, using local language-radio versions of the campaign in each country, featuring dialects and local artists. Although the Made of Black campaign plays slightly more towards Nigerian audiences, it focuses on three keywords that define the essence of the brand: Power, Goodness and Communion. While ‘Power’ is more representative of Nigerian consumers, ‘Communion’ is indicative of Guinness’ Kenyan consumers, who see the beer as something to be enjoyed in a social setting.

So what’s next for the brand?

Guinness’ business is currently 50/50 in terms of developed and emerging markets, however, in the future Sandys feels that this number will shift towards more like 25/75, due to the rate of growth in Africa – in fact, Sub-Saharan Africa will become the fastest growing market in the world. Sandys sees this as an energising and exciting opportunity that Guinness, as one of only a handful of global brands with a presence in Africa, will have the opportunity to capitalise on. The brand aims to anchor themselves as a central part of African culture in the years to come. As such, it is important for them to explore innovative advertising approaches, like mobile. Smartphones are becoming essential to modern life in Africa, but data can be extremely expensive. With this knowledge in mind, Guinness is exploring the idea of creating content on ‘data-light’ apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, ensuring that they reach as many consumers as possible. In addition to this, the brand is committed to exploring the use of user-generated content, further cementing their already strong relationship with African consumers.

Mark Sandys has been a member of the Diageo team for over 19 years, beginning as a graduate trainee for Guinness. As the current Global Head of Beer and Baileys, he feels privileged simply being in the presence of the product. Faced with the challenge of an ageing image on the African market, his greatest success to date has been the reinvention of the brand through innovative approaches involving local key opinion leaders. With a historically strong presence on the continent for over 250 years, Sandys sees Africa as an ever-evolving market that will continue to play an important role in the future of the brand.

For more on Guinness, take a look at our post from February 2014 on the Sapeurs campaign.


*We would like to say a special ‘thank you’ to Mark Sandys for his time and insight during the writing of this article.

[French] Pushing for a Healthier Nigeria

Did you know that the Nigerian senate is pushing for a complete ban on the manufacturing, consumption and promotion of tobacco within its nation?

With the most populous capital in Africa (more than 160 million inhabitants), this West African nation is pushing for a healthier way of life. The initiative comes after the nation has recently banned cigarette smoking in public toilets, institutions, and transportation, in shopping centres, stadia, and restaurants. Considering the known health risks, Nigeria might just become a role model for the rest of Africa (and possibly the world).

By Alex Knight