/ 12 February 2010

Nu art of marketing

More and more corporates are using alternative means of marketing. If marketing was relatively easy decades ago, today’s sophisticated youth have made it a lot more difficult.

Opinionated, savvy and with access to gigabytes of information, this important segment of the market has to be cleverly persuaded. This altered reality has necessitated the birth of cool advertising.

It has become necessary for companies not only to sell products but also to hawk a whole way of life — the more in touch they are with the streets, the more likely they will be able to relate.

It’s just not enough for a big brand to pluck sports and cultural icons from their rarefied lodgings and pay them to push this sneaker or that fizzy drink.

Other ways of appealing to a younger audience used around the world are increasingly being adopted by local corporates.

The art of documentary photography, graffiti, concept stores, HIV/Aids campaigns, sports and music heroes have become core to some of the most successful marketing of products.

Corporates are now using glossy publications, for instance CapeBurg, the Nike magazine in which Rasty, photographer Musa Nxumalo and others are featured; or Obrigado, the magazine produced for coffee franchise Vida e Caffé. Increasingly, they also use graffiti, for instance, Rasty’s Adidas mural on Jan Smuts Avenue.

Documentary photography is also helping the corporates sell products. Late last year Nike commissioned photographers Nxumalo and Warren van Rensburg to document the Kaizer Chiefs team and their supporters. Nike is the shirt sponsor of the Soweto football giants, who celebrate their 40th anniversary this year.

Their work is on show at Nike’s store on 4th Avenue in Melville, Johannesburg.

The shop-cum-gallery opened in 2008. Airy and with the busy feel of a gym or even a changing room, the place is sparsely furnished, with metal cabinets, rails, benches and a punching bag.

The shop opens at the leisurely hour of 2pm and is open until 10pm at night. As with most galleries, the shop opens from Tuesday to Sunday.

Jeans manufacturer Levi’s runs one of the most visible HIV/Aids campaigns. Their Red for Life campaign is aimed at the youth, the people most at risk. Theirs is not a cynical campaign — over the years they have donated millions of rands and condoms to stop the spread of HIV in the age segment that perhaps wears jeans most of all.

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