Burials and Burkas

There was a politically vibrant struggle in Kenya in the 1990s between traditional Kenyan values and the growing westernisation of the nation.

There was one particular dispute between the Luo tribe and the family of a deceased lawyer that summed up this struggle.

The dispute was over who owned the burial rights to Mr Otieno’s body.

The tribe he was born to, or this lawyer’s family?

In the end, the Luo tribe were awarded his burial rights by a point-scoring president. The burial was carried out in his tribal village.

Before it started the main priest was first heard arriving…

Then seen arriving in tribal robes, clutching a traditional spear….dismounting from his new Kawasaki motorbike.

I love the irony in this story.

It highlights the importance of and varied definition of tradition, and the role it has in our societies.

The consumer power of tradition and the role it has in a nation have seen hugely succesful campaigns for Heinz, Mini, and Carlsberg to mention but a few.

In fact, MCBD’s recent Hovis campaign cleaned up at the 2010 IPA Effectiveness Awards.
Selling the tradition of the brand, the TV ad saw a 90 million kick in revenue.

However, perhaps the most important lesson from the burial dispute for an industry paid to generalise and target these assumed generalisations, is that there is power and opportunity in markets where you may never have expected….
With clever targeting, increased awareness and communication, we can bring new customers to our clients and our clients to new markets.

I was told by Richard Hytner, Deputy CEO of Saatchi worldwide about some infield research done a few years ago in the middle eastern markets. This is where someone is sent into a new market to bring back unique learnings.
An invaluable if not costly method.
However, as budgets tighten, the more distant the research becomes.
This research was within the dominant Muslim population.

It discovered 2 key learnings.
1. The fact that Muslim women can be very competitive amongst themselves.
In looks as well as in life.

What this spelled out was in cosmetics.

2. Many Muslim women wore make-up beneath their veils.
In effect, like any ‘western’ woman.
This opened up opportunities in a whole new market.

Clearly, some had been buying the product, but they had never really been asked to.

With increased awareness and clever targeting, there was now a market to be capitalised on.

We all know insights are the bedrock of any great campaign.
Considering their value, I question if we’re doing enough to get them.

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