My Africa, a continent of Otherness – an abode where culture, heritage, tradition are ever flowing; with people of diverse culture, yet living and united as one people. – Franklin Ozekhome
Franklin Ozekome is a man of many parts. He is popularly referred to as “Sensei” (a Japanese word for teacher), Whizz, and is well respected in the Advertising, trends and marketing communication industry. What really interests me about this man is his love for Africa. There is always something African about him. The first time I entered into his space, I saw a hut made of bamboo and the seats made with wood. It was so traditional yet so inviting. So, I approached him to tell us why he is repping Africa any day. Here’s how the conversation went.
Ibiene: Who is Franklin Ozekhome?
Franklin: I am a Pop Culture Strategist and a student of culture and brands. I understudy global and local trends and apply the insights derived there on to develop marketing and business solutions for clients. For over a decade, I have been privileged to collaborate with brand planners, data analysts, media strategists, CMOs and business leaders to develop marketing plans, brand development strategies, bespoke trends research, consumer intelligence and cultural mapping reports, marketing toolkits and strategy playbooks for many organizations looking to position their brands in sub-Saharan Africa.
My 9am-5pm is a dizzying race across brands, businesses and marketing development portfolios. I work with Insight Redefini/Publicis One as the Group Strategy Director. Redefini is the Nigerian business group entity that comprises six leading marketing communication firms – Insight Publicis, Leo Burnett, The Creative Counsel (TCC), All Seasons Zenith, Quadrant MSL and Starcom Media Perspectives. Some brands that I have worked closely with during my career include PepsiCo, Access Bank, Nestle, World Bank/IFC, Friesland Campina WAMCO, Philip Morris International, MTN, Promasidor, Tecno, VISA, Nigerian Breweries, Castrol Oil, Emirates Airline, Samsung and Mondalez.
I am the founder of TINK Africa, a pop culture platform that is focused on providing trends research, consumer intelligence and cultural mapping for future-thinking organizations looking to position their brands in the African market. I am particularly interested in consumer trends, trend analytics, culture codes and brand innovation; subjects that I teach at Orange Academy and BSchool.
Ibiene: You express a sense of Africanism a lot. Tell us what are some things about Africa that makes you tick?
Franklin: Africa isn’t just a continent; it’s an identity, the foundation to our existence as a people. The people, the food, language, the diverse cultures, the originality, the never-ending mountains and waterfalls, the wildlife and distinct nature – inspire me every day.
Ibiene: Why should brands/individuals leverage on the African culture?
Franklin: African communities have grown as close-knit societies and villages held together by shared values and customs handed down through the years through folklore and other forms of traditional socialization. One of the more powerful mediums for communication – from one generation to the next – is storytelling. Africans have always been great storytellers.
Marketing and creativity, therefore, must play a strong role both in shaping and redefining Africa’s cultural evolution, especially in connecting with the modern day African. African Creativity needs to find its voice, an identity and a creative flavour of its own that will be recognized and respected, and most importantly, resonate with Africans.
The new African consumer is becoming more aware of their African identity and is not in a hurry to discard it; so the brand of the future must tap into culture to build deeper connections with the new consumer.
Ibiene: What trends/changes do we expect to see in the continent in the next few years?
F.O: Savvy global brands will respond to the cries for less globally homogenized product offerings and more regionally relevant experiences and campaigns. Brands that appeal to CITIZEN WOKE and LOCAL LOVE in 2019, will be respected. Smart brands will acknowledge African heritage and celebrate the cultural nuances of the markets being served, to ultimately decolonize consumption.
Okay that last part got me ‘woke’. Lolz.
Keep your fingers crossed for the next edition of ‘My Africa’.