If you have been monitoring the regional creative arts scene lately you will have by now noticed the relevance of social media influencers and bloggers alike. Big brands and corporate are coming through to support (black) creatives and also amplify their presence through their social media influence. This has been especially successful in South Africa where magazines such as Cosmopolitan SA debuted their first Influencer Cover Star issue which featured Aisha Baker, Kefilwe Mabote and Sbahle Mpisane right about the same time Elle Magazine’s influencer cover issue came out. Also sports brands like Adidas, Nike, Puma, and Fila are tapping into the youthful space via social media influencers especially on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Of course this has seen the brands manage to stay relevant and competitive in the game, and if anything, helping shape the creative space in the region.
Zimbabwe needs to catch up on this wave and more seeing that we already have the brands and the social media influencers, we just need to marry the two. I recall a facebook post by Steven Chikosi which read:
There is need for a healthy balance between working on your craft & promoting it. Promoting a half baked product always ends badly as much as not promoting enough a quality product/service.
He nailed it here, this is exactly the situation we are seeing from both creatives and corporate alike. But I want to look at it in a different perspective. I have noticed that corporate have the products, services, and resources but they are failing to reach to a broader market via social media. In the same light young creatives have the energy, influence, and self taught expertise to make brands blow up but they lack the funding and partnerships to realise their full potential. At this point, let me also acknowledge creatives who use whatever resources at their disposal to build their portfolio and bootstrap their hustle, these are the plugs who then work flawlessly once resources are availed. Also we need to acknowledge that in this era, most of us are loyal to brands because of ambassadors, it’s easier to follow an ambassador than a whole brand, we relate to people we know and like better. Hence marrying the corporate world to the Zim creatives will only see both industries doing significantly better. Bulawayo (my favourite example) has so many creatives across board: photographers, fashion designers, models, film makers, musicians, graphic illustrators, poets, etc that are ready to jump on projects, putting us on a competitive edge regionally and globally. This could be all they need to extend their market outside the country.
Imagine where brands like Dendairy, Baker’s Inn, Carex, Pascall Choc, would be with a bit of creative touch? For starters I feel creatives need to come together and collaborate in their events, there is always power in numbers. It also makes it easier for the corporate world to see a reason to invest in these collaborations and more. Creatives who are sending proposals to corporate and brands should continue doing so and those who haven’t started should definitely jump on the band wagon. All the workshops and events in the city by creatives and artists need visible brands. It’s high time we see a Zimbabwean creative on an international project, magazine, TV show etc representing, even better if it’s a Zimbabwean creative in Zimbabwe. I really hope brands see this and give creatives a chance, disappointment is not even a possibility. I hope 2018 we go hard. To mention but a few Zim creatives I believe have it in them to propel brands to greater heights: