‘Culture is a major constituent of every creative work’

Nnamdi Ndu is the chief executive officer of CHINI Africa and representative of Cannes Lions festival in Nigeria and organisers of the annual Creativity Week says no creative work can survive without culture.

Objective of the Creativity Week

The creativity week is a way of bringing together all those who are involved in marketing communication. The whole idea is to promote the industry in our region. It is a way of establishing the industry so that we can produce materials that are at par; that can compete with materials from other parts of the world. We have different aspects of the programme; we have aspects of what is being done by the youths, we have aspects of what is being done in the industry, and we have aspects like creating a better Africa, which is focused on collaboration within the industry because we want to see how the private sector can do more in developing our society.

Though we rely on government to do certain things as most of them will tell you that they pay tax, therefore development is squarely on the shoulders of government; but we know that if leave certain activities to the government, especially, because of the dwindling incomes in today’s world, government cannot meet every of our needs. And then when you add the political issues that we have in our society, we cannot rely on government. We as a private sector must do things by ourselves. We must get involved in developing our country.

Mr. Ndu, Cannes Lion representative in Nigeria

And creativity is not about producing arts and selling products, people have done that for several years. The consumers of today want the brands to identify with them, identify with the issues they are dealing with, and speak the same language with them. That is what is expected of today’s brand. But how do you do it? It is by getting involved in issues and causes that the community is interested. This way, you are not just getting involved, but we are saying that you connect with their hearts. People are not just buying products because you told them to buy it. They are already aware of those products. At the level the world has reached, you must keep improving your products. You can’t do a better Coca-Cola, for instance, but how would people continue to use your product, it is because you speak the same language.

The day they think you are no longer representing them they stop using your products. That is exactly what we are trying to promote.  We are saying that if all the different companies are able to take one project, even if it is one issue, s will go a long way. Already, we have the MDGs goals which they can use as templates. Even if it is one each of them can take, then the society will grow. We know that a lot of them are involved in CSR, but we know that these things are after thoughts and are meant for the cameras. But we want thing that are from the core of the brands. This is what the brand stands for, and it must start from within the internal public of the brand. Even the staff should be able to say this is what the brand is doing inside and it should resonate with the external so that their consumer will be able to identify with them.

Africa and creativity

Creativity is ranked by how much people are willing to accept a particular creative idea. So, I think creativity is strong outside those being projected by brands. So, we want these creative contents to be imbibed by brands. People want to see contents; they no longer want to see ads. As a brand, let everything you want to offer your consumer be something that benefits them as a form of entertainment or as form of activism or in the form of a project. In drama how do you know your character? It is either by what the character says or what he does. It is the same thing with the character of a brand; how do you know the character of a brand, it is by what the brand does. By the time a brand say our role is anytime we see a pothole we seal it. What do you think the consumer will do, they will identify with such brand. You will not need to do any advert. That is communication for the brand. If a brand decides that anywhere we see a public school that is not doing well we adopt the school and raise the standard of that school. This is much more effective than millions of naira used in advertising.

Culture and creativity

Mr. Nnamdi Ndu, organiser of Creativity Week in Nigeria’s advertising industry

Culture is the element that you can put into your creativity. It does not enhance or impede creativity. It is an element that you use that is important. We all have culture, African, Europeans and Asians, so when you use a European element in your creativity, you may not be able to express more like somebody who grows up in Europe, in that culture and understands the nuance of the elements. The only thing you know about Europe is from the film you watch and then you based all your creativity on that little you know about Europe, you will not be respected because your knowledge of Europe is shallow, likewise a European expressing an African theme using African element, you will notice that he will be limited by certain understanding of the African culture, even where he thinks he has a good grasp of the culture.

Impact of technology  on creativity

Technology does not really change your story. It is only another platform for you to tell the story. Many years ago many people have to use radio or television to tell their story, and you know the issue that relates to that, it is speed. But today that has changed with internet and social media and everybody is a publisher. So, what technology has done is to amplify what people are able to do but it does not change your story. It is just another platform that you can use to tell your story and it also help to democratizes story telling. Everybody can be a film maker, all you need is your phone and you can make your movies. That is what technology has done. The content of your story is about what you put, it has nothing to do with technology