Are you old enough to recall the ads of the 1990s in Zimbabwe? If you’re not please take some time out to visit YouTube. Zimbabwe certainly had vibrant advertising that was incredibly relatable to the populace. With economic turmoil the country experienced starting in the late 90s that we have not been able to get out of since the nation lost a lot. Human capital and a shying away from mass media platforms stifled our advertising. However social media has seen the return of this trend and it is definitely here to stay.
While Zimbabwean companies took a while to get into social media and even longer to find their feet, it is safe to say they have arrived. Not only have these companies brought attention and consistency to their advertising on social media they have proved to be in tune with people as the adverts are topical. Touching on the issues people are talking about, usually with a touch of humour.
I wouldn’t go as far as to crown a King but if you wanted my opinion on one Mambo’s chicken simply takes the crown, no pun intended. They are quick, witty and topical. The recent incident where a picture of politician Job Sikhala wearing a waistcoat that was not quite the right size was quickly spun into a Mambos advert. They really have been on top of many topical issues. They use brilliant humour in so doing and have on occasion even taken shots at the competition, in good spirits.
If Mambo’s is the King then Nando’s is certainly the originator. In fact Nandos may well be credited with bringing this tradition from offline to online media. They have experience with great success in this sort of advertising from Nandos South Africa and by extension the Zimbabwean arm has broken out on it’s own to start doing the same. This makes their humour more relatable to the Zimbabwean market after that infamous incident where a Nandos South Africa advert fell foul of our late former President.
Chicken Hut has taken a more salty approach to this and consistently targets their ads at their competition. It is hard to discern how profitable the strategy has been for them but it has certainly garnered attention for their brand.
Pamushana Africa Transport
Pamushana has waded into these waters quite brilliantly and it is unfortunate that what I feel has been their best attempt may be inappropriate for this platform. They’ve done very well to break into this area that as you can see has been largely dominated by fast food brands.
Not all smooth sailing
Before you start thinking it’s easy to take a hilarious viral picture or topic and turn it to your advantage think again. There was an infamous incident where Stanbic bank tried to ride the wave of the much anticipated Game of Thrones season 8 with incredibly underwhelming results. While the TV show itself was extremely popular and much anticipated among Zimbabweans, the attempt did very little to capture the imagination. Stanbic is a big bank and while it may be hard to connect banking and Game of Thrones have a look at Johnnie Walkers entire White Walker campaign.
While influencer marketing has been attempted with limited success in Zimbabwean social media circles true creativity has risen to the top. Zimbabweans love to engage via social media on topical issues and there are companies out there who have realised and taken advantage of this. It will be interesting to see how this progresses as social media and digital marketing become more and more important to business in the country.