The Potential of African Identity in Advertising

This is an article I think you all should read:

“While working as a creative director in Oslo, Norway, I gave a presentation to the local ad industry about the potential of Nordic identity in advertising. This came about because I was blown away by the quirks of their culture. One of the things that drew me to Norway besides a Nordic wife and the endless variety of ski slopes was their advertising(multimedia).

Effects of globalisation

But while I was there I saw their ethos giving way to the effects of globalisation and a move towards emulating the styles of the West.

Nordic work had always been a breath of fresh air to me, a respite from the sameness one sees on the international awards circuit. Their strange (to westerners) humour and unique character used to help them pull international awards and my aim with the presentation, as a foreigner reflecting their own identity back at them, was to show them an unbiased and objective appreciation of it.

To back it up, I also highlighted the success of the Indian identity that was on the rise at the time, something even the West was emulating.

I recently gave a similar presentation to the Red & Yellow School of Logic & Magic, focusing on the potential of our own African identity, with inspiration garnered from travels and research done locally and elsewhere in Africa.

Judges on awards panels

Because of the variety of judges on international advertising award panels – the greater percentage of them being from the West – the South African work that is entered often tends to be Western in style in order to appeal to the tastes of the jury and communicate clearly to the broader spectrum.

There is no disputing that some of our favourite South African ads would not be understood there, but there is an opportunity we are missing. There is potential to leverage our own ethos. After all, there is a taste for it overseas; and we can start by looking at music videos.

Music videos

Beyonce’s latest video, “Girls (Who Run the World)”, is one. The dance style is derivative of our own Pantsula. The casting, environment and styling are African to the core. Photographer Pieter Hugo’s powerful series, “The Hyena & Other Men”, is the inspiration for one of the most impressive scenes.

In fact, much of Hugo’s “Nollywood” series is directly emulated in another powerful music video: Nick Cave and Grinderman’s “Heathen Child”.

Gnarls Barkley’s recent video, “Going On”, Is a wonderful expose of contemporary African fashion. The thing that grabs the viewer is the juxtaposition of styles – traditional African adornment mixed with western styles – outfits our own Smarteez would wear. . .”

All has the full story.


Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law website, livestream and podcast show empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through its brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

For general inquiries, advertising, licensing, or to appear on the show as a guest, please email ([email protected]). Thank you for visiting.


Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at

You may also like...