The Cure in Jozi! One of my all-time favourite bands. I simply couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
So I packed my passport and headed to Benoni for the experience.
Formed in 1976, these alternative Pommy rockers still have a massive global following and by the look of the crowd in attendance, the band has a massive and diverse fan base here in South Africa.
I arrived a little early to catch some of the supporting acts, Ard Matthews, Zebra & Giraffe and none other than Fokofpolisiekar leading into The Cure.
Flirting with 60, Robert Smith is impressively still pulling a following across the generational and cultural divides.
His wrist slashing melancholic melodies seem to have bridged the gap between young and old. I was fascinated by the spread of age and depth of culture represented. There were the old fogies who were clearly hooked from the first album back in the ’70s, the punks, the nerds, the goths and their kids.
Fokofpolisiekar burst onto the stage belting lyrics in Afrikaans, while Zebra and Giraffe offered some well received nostalgia for the millennials. I politely declined a hit of cannabis kindly offered by a fellow reveller (yes, I was most likely categorised in the nerd brigade). But I survived the choppy waters of this sea of diversity. Such a delight from behind the boerewors curtain nogal.
The ‘immersion’ left me wiser to the fact that as marketers we need to perilously pursue the cultural diversity of our nation. How else will we ever truly connect with these cultural pockets of magnificence?
It is crucial that marketers recognise how a better understanding of cultural differences can help improve performance.
Marketing across cultures requires a special sensitivity to the diversity of human needs.
Of course, all marketers are constantly getting statements like ‘know your audience’ drilled into their heads. The problem is that when they are confronted with a culture completely different than their own, they simply do not know how to acquire that knowledge. What we tend to forget under normal circumstances is that marketing is actually a cultural activity.
How well a marketer does his job is proportionate to the degree to which he understands the culture of the people he is marketing to. Marketing is the control of cultural messages. Therefore, how well any specific message does in achieving its goals depends on how well somebody understands that particular environment.
Immersion, we believe, is absolutely key to understanding our audiences and the cultural nuances that drive them. The insights gained make for better marketing and better media choices. It is these nuggets of knowledge that you won’t pick up from desk research. Connection excellence comes from a deeper understanding of our target consumer.
Factors to be aware of when marketing across cultures:
- Belief systems affect consumer behaviour very stronglyWithout an understanding of belief systems, you will never be able to create products suitable to their needs, or craft messages that will really sell.
- Your cultural assumptions are always going to mislead youUnless you have completed extensive research on any particular area of that culture, you will never be able to understand how cultural logic works.
- Cultures are systems of thoughtDifferent aspects of a culture will always affect one another quite strongly. One particular belief can only be understood in the context of the culture as a whole.
- Feedback systems are more important than everWhen you are marketing in a cultural environment that you do not understand very well, you want to build as much feedback into your system as you possibly can
Cultural immersion is a journey, a journey of understanding what resonates with our audience.
The Cure to deeper connections without doubt.
Sources: Tim Rettig
Sean Sullivan is a business unit manager at The MediaShop. His 22 years in the media industry is testament to his love for advertising. Now in his 15th year at The MediaShop, he has gained a wealth of knowledge having worked across a broad spectrum of clients.