A place to feel something real

To encourage physical healthcare engagement, The Feel Party has been using approachable imagery and language to market its cause. (Think Creative Africa)

To encourage physical healthcare engagement, The Feel Party has been using approachable imagery and language to market its cause. (Think Creative Africa)

“If something is too hectic, we [young South Africans] tend to ignore that,” says advertising creative director Nkgabiseng Motau during a breakfast date. She is talking about the need to use creative interventions for physical healthcare necessities such as breast examinations, pap smears and blood tests.

Speaking about the need to use creative interventions for physical healthcare necessities — such as breast examinations, pap smears and blood tests — Motau told the Mail & Guardian about an attempt to do so through The Feel Party.

Developed by blooming advertising agency Think Creative Africa, The Feel Party is an annual event that looks to increase breast cancer awareness and early detection through self-examination, across the gender spectrum.

Founded by Nkgabiseng Motau and Mukondi Kgomo in 2016, Think Creative Africa dispatches brand messaging using the team’s lived experiences alongside “creativity and data-led insights”.

Nkgabiseng Motau (above, centre) and Mukondi Kgomo (seated, right) launched The Feel Party event that raises awareness of breast cancer. (Delwyn Verasamy/ M&G) 

In addition to being owned by black women, all seven members of staff are people of colour. The result is a means of communication that is so familiar that it feels like home. Prior to establishing Think Creative Africa, Motau and Kgomo worked for leading advertising agencies Ogilvy, FCB Africa and TBWA. “It was a great experience because it taught us about the impact that creative work can have,” says Motau.

Through this realisation, the duo set off to start an agency with an ethos that centres using creative work “for good”. According to Motau, using advertising for good involves creating ethical, humorous, and memorable campaigns that expand and celebrate ideas of marginalised groups including womxn, queer and black folk.

To encourage physical healthcare engagement, The Feel Party has been using approachable imagery and language to market its cause. Instead of technical cross-sections, their Instagram page is filled with pastel coloured, ice-cream-like, cartoon images of breasts that Motau thought “people would have asked us to remove by now”. The South African slang term ‘self-cav’ — which refers to the act of interpreting or viewing something in a particular way —  is used in the place of self examination.

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Nips be slipping fam. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Happy Chooseday. Choose laughter #BoobsBeLike #BreastCancerAwareness #thefeelparty #feelingmyself

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The Feel Party has also partnered with micro influencers who post the breast illustrations and how-to infographics onto their personal accounts. By so doing, the self-examination reminders fit organically into their target market’s daily dose of social media. In order to ensure that the desired impact of The Feel Party is effective, its organisers have partnered with breast cancer screening centre Pink Ribbon. “We manage the social media feed so we had to make sure that we’re giving accurate information, statistics and how-tos,” says Motau.

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Just a little reminder to show your boobies some love too. Don’t forget to buy your ticket to this weekend’s Feel Party! Bring a friend! The link to buy tickets is in our bio. #breastcancerawareness #thefeelparty #feelingmyself

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The culmination of these social media interventions is an interactive and multisensory party where patrons are welcomed to ask medical practitioners about the technical stuff that would normally require them to go to a clinic or hospital. Unlike a medical check-up, this encounter offers patrons an opportunity to do so while socialising, drinking and making the most of the photo opportunities that The Feel Party’s aesthetic has set up for its guests at Gallery MoMo. In addition to encouraging physical healthcare, The Feel Party looked to cultivate gallery visiting culture by making a home out of Gallery MoMo in Parktown North. “We wanted it to feel close to the arts and they were willing to come on board by giving us a venue while leaving their art up,” explains Motau. And seeing that it is a party, its patrons will have the chance to get-down to sounds courtesy of DJs Mamthug, Mx Blouse and Congo Muffin.

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We’re so excited to announce our Djs. @mamthug, @congomuffin and @sandiblouse. Tickets available at Quicket. The direct link is in our bio. #thefeelparty #breastcancerawareness #feelingmyself

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Using a model similar to that of a themed day-market, The Feel Party is a fair where all things are related to breast health. In addition to having medical practitioners and breast cancer survivors on hand to answer questions, The Feel Party programme includes a panel and on-site breast examinations facilitate by breast cancer screening centre, Pink Ribbon. This will be accompanied by stalls from the likes of skin and hair care specialist Suki Suki Naturals, underwear line Gugu Intimates, and vegan ice cream brand YoCoco.

While goods from the above stalls are on sale, they are not to be mistaken for the event’s catering. “Food and drinks are free,” says Motau before explaining that Burger King will cater alongside vegan and plant-based company Plates and Scales.

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“Ya feel me?” - Boobs #breastcancerawareness

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“I wouldn’t call it fun,” argues Motau, “It’s a positive emotional experience for something that’s normally lonely.” This model of awareness around healthcare fits with a conclusion made by medical doctor Abigail Zuger. In a New York Times column titled How a Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down, Zuger writes about how experience has led her to believe that patients prefer “knowing that the doctor realises they are more than their symptoms and prescriptions, that they have another dimension”.

While Motau is aware of the complacency that may come with serving medicine with a spoonful of sugar to make it go down, she is certain that the “tonality of the event leaves no room for disregard.’’ By attaching all the facets of the event to breast cancer awareness through food, manicures, art installations, examinations, music, talks and decor, The Feel Party leads all the senses back to the topic at hand. “Everything is related to breast cancer. I don’t think that people can neglect or disregard that while having a good time,” argues Motau.

With the September to December period being characterised by mindless hedonism in South Africa, The Feel Party is a refreshing addition to the summer party circuit. However its Parktown North venue and Instagram reliant marketing ensures that its reach and impact remain within the confines of South Africa’s middle class.

The Feel Party takes place on October 26 at Gallery Momo. Tickets cost R150 and can be purchased from www.quicket.co.za/events/87379-the-feel-party/

Zaza Hlalethwa

Zaza Hlalethwa

Zaza Hlalethwa is a junior arts and culture writer at the Mail & Guardian. In 2018 she was the recipient of a Sikuvile commendation for feature writing. In 2019 she received the Gauteng region Vodacom Journalist of the Year award for feature and lifestyle writing. Her interests in the arts stem from a need to demystify the elitist and complex-looking art world while her pop culture analyses look to facilitate critical thinking and challenge perpetuated social norms by using popular, everyday references, multilingualism and prose. Read more from Zaza Hlalethwa

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