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Heineken advert imposes a new season in Cameroon for its football fans.

Africa has become a dumping ground for everything until yesterday I saw a billboard boldly expressing itself without fear to the inhabitants of Douala, specifically at Rond Point Deido. Rond Point Deido is a high-traffic area and considered by many as the heart of Douala. Having a billboard in such a place is very normal as it is highly visible by residents, commuter traffic and a huge number of daily pedestrian exposure.

The beginning of the wet season

“It’s not the end of Summer. It’s the beginning of Champions League”, says Heineken on it’s billboard placed on the wall of Boulangerie Meno building facing the road entering from Bonaberi. The position is strategic because it gets the greatest visibility to those entering Douala from three other regions of the country (NW, SW & West Regions). The size alone is big enough to catch a person’s attention and create that memorable impression which makes you to still think about the advert after you get past it.

It’s not the end of Summer. It’s the beginning of Champions League

Heineken

That is what happened to me. Something in the Heineken advert caught my attention and I started thinking about it. Then I remembered the majestic presence of Jose Mourinho that once stood on that wall, with his leg on a ball as if commanding the entire city of Douala. By then he was still the face of Champions League – those where the glory days before his drastic fall. I always had the feeling he was putting his leg on the people of Douala and not the football.

My mind wondered to something I found unusual about that billboard – Summer. Summer in Cameroon? I can’t tell if they missed their audience, but I found it out of place to use “summer” in a country where we have but wet, dry and harmattan season (in some areas). Summer is a temperate seasons and the hottest of the four that includes winter, spring and autumn. Summer dates varies according to tradition, climate and culture. You can read more on that here.

Let’s communicate

An advert as we all know is a form of communication that is used to persuade an audience to buy a product, service or ideals. I may not be an expert in communication, but I know that for an advert to capture my interest, it should relate to me. I would not have been worried if I saw this online, but seeing it physically on a billboard in the heart of Cameroon’s economic capital, Douala, is where I got worried.

For an advert to be effective, whether outdoor, online or print, it has to leave an impression on your audience in the first few seconds that it is seen. The headline and image must have a strong impact and worth remembering. Now, the type of impact matters – negative or positive. In my case, I had a negative feeling for this advert. It must not always be ‘everything western is good’. I got the feeling what they were selling was an ideal and not a product.

Cameroon local championship

European soccer has almost erased the existence of our local soccer championship. When I was growing up, I saw a generation that watched and praised local soccer. They will listen live on radio and react as if they were on the pitch. I also watched it with my friends on Sundays – that was between 2004 and 2010. I know the quality as well as mobilization is close to level zero.

For an advert to be effective, whether outdoor, online or print, it has to leave an impression on your audience in the first few seconds that it is seen.

When we were growing up, I used to hear my older ones call the long holidays (third term holiday), ‘summer holiday’. I am sure I must have ignorantly done that also before questioning myself later ‘why summer, when we have just two or three seasons?’ I thought I had not heard this for a while until I saw it in another advert on Facebook while writing this post. I know it is difficult to coin a suitable word for such a holiday.

Just imagine you saying wet season holiday…But then it can be harmattan holiday (for first term), dry holiday (for second term) and wet holiday (third term). I think I am a genius, right? Nah! It can’t work like that because it is coming from me. If it were coming in from the west, we would have adopted it within seconds. Make I continue weti touch ma heart.

An advert should affect its audience

On another thought, the Heineken advert was for an intended audience – European soccer fans. I have seen Cameroonians support teams in Europe to the extent of exchanging blows. I always ask myself if they are really Cameroonians or Europeans in Cameroonian skin? I always got the feeling their minds have been colonized to the extent which they can no longer support theirs. Everyone is free to choose what he or she loves. I just wonder what happened that we don’t support our own.

Most of the players from Cameroon in particular who play for these European cups are known only when they are there. It is funny because many of them start from these local clubs and were unknown to their present fans. Does Europe or the West have to come all of the time and resurrect ours? Many did not know about Samuel Eto’o when he spent 4 good years with Kadji Sport Academy. Christian Bassogog was not known in his days of Rainbow FC, a second division side in Cameroon.

What I am trying to say is that we can sell ours out there without waiting for a savior to come in and resurrect their careers. Imagine we could watch our own leagues, we will be the ones to make these soccer stars shine to the wall. We will discuss them on social networks, share their videos, talk about them and the world will know. With that, they can be sold at better prices, investors will come in different forms. You know what happens when we have investors coming in especially in sports. The country gets exposure and the effects trickles down to the common man on the street.

The Heineken advert touched its audience

If one aspect of a successful advert is to affect your audience, then there should be no problem with the Heineken advert above. A successful communication in an advert should focus on a specific audience using information that meets its needs. The fans do not only find themselves supporting these teams just for the love of football but ‘live’ with the teams. If you can hear or read them say ‘I am XYZ team’, ‘We will deal with you at ABC stadium’, etc then you have to understand not only their souls are with the teams, but their bodies as well.

If the advert is affecting the audience, then emotion comes in. This gets the target audience to feel something inside the message. It makes the potential customers to think about what the adverts says – just like I did, even though it pushed me to love my Kadji Beer more. Finally it also makes the audience to take action which is purchasing the product or service.

An advert is more effective when it is not only coherent or concise, but resonates with the target audience. It has to connect with the needs and desires of the audience. This means the advertiser needs to design the ad based on knowledge of the public. I am still to understand how ‘summer’ resonates with the inhabitants of Douala, or were they targeting westerners? If so, they would have put it in Bonapriso and other high-end kwatas where you can find westerners.

An advert is more effective when it is not only coherent or concise, but resonates with the target audience.

When an advert is good, it can make you laugh, think or even talk about it – positively. I know thousands of people have seen that billboard standing up there on that building. I also know many may not have seen it the way I did or may have, but just kept quiet in our we go be alrait attitude.

Don’t hesitate to share your opinion on this Heineken advert in the comment section. You can also checkout my previous post, His words – “I heard you are a big carpenter”