This post will seem a bit bizarre given how much I like to deconstruct advertisers desire to get us to buy into their lifestyle. While I have traveled in Uganda and Tanzania my favorite ad has been Coca Cola’s, “A Billion Reasons to Believe in Africa.” So today I was going to share the ad with you and as I looked up an image, I found a music video that goes with the campaign. The music video further complicates my love of the positive message of the campaign with bizarre claims that “while the world is crumbling, Africans are dancing”?! Sounds a bit like the fall of Troy, though the version for India is even more bizarre. That for every tank built there are 1.3 million stuffed toys made in India. Its an amazingly narrow yet, strangely uplifting ad. It’s a world I want to believe in…maybe? At least it has more interesting things to say than polar bears slipping on the ice.
What the cultural implications are for these soft sell, uplifting ads is elusive. I have read about the negative cultural implications of advertisements, from Ad Busters and others, but what of the positive? Can there be a positive impact from plastering the country side with the slogan “A billion reasons to believe in Africa”?
Driving through villages whole buildings in the business strip are often painted for advertisements. The bright red buildings for Coca Cola or Airtel. And a rainbow of other colors for various other products and services.
I spotted this ad this morning on my walk through Dar Es Salaam. “They call it Africa, we call it home.” For the Standard Bank of South Africa. Definitely drawing a distinction between native Africans (and their businesses) and the investors (and businesses) that have been flooding the continent.
Whether the impact of these ads is generally positive or negative, I find on my last day that there are a billion reasons to believe in Africa, even with all the complications, and I have been given the chance to know just a few of the people who help me believe.