A Nigerian lady, who goes by the name Sisi Temi, has called out Airtel on Twitter, for making commercials that are tribalistic.
I have loved Airtel ads from day one. Their ads are of a different kind; creative, engaging and humorous. An ad that is creative and genuinely makes one laugh is rare in Nigeria. But they still exist.
Ads that are never thought through are usually out of context. That is to say, Airtel ads are brilliant and not out of context. An ad is supposed to reach your soul, and that is what Airtel has done with the story of two mothers-in-law who are worlds apart. It is a beautiful story telling which invokes emotions.
One of the women can use a blender, water dispenser, Auto gele, and a travelling box, while the other is clueless about these things. This is a comparison between the old and new. It also raises the question, why use 3G when you can port to 4G, a better internet version?
Brilliant as the ad is, it holds deeper meanings, other than trying to make the Yourba woman moronic. It is not an attempt to belittle her or portray tribalism. One woman was simply an early adopter, with the auto gele or travelling box being a metaphor for 4G technology. In this sense, this is a relatable story being told.
My mom would rather go to the bank to deposit money when she can as well transfer money from her phone. She doesn’t trust the technology that has made it easier to send money to different accounts while on the go. I laugh when she says things like “At least, I will know who to hold when my money gets missing. How do I hold the phone?”
Some elderly people still find smart phones weird and difficult to use. My grandfather would rather walk around with the aid of a walking stick than use a wheelchair. The process confuses him. Some still cling to the old ways of doing things, and in no way does it make them morons.
It would still be an unequal representation even if two Yorubas were used in the ad. In all their ads, the portrayal doesn't have negative connotations but is rather a case of “good” vs “better”, with an emphasis on speed and convenience. The 3G is good but 4G is even better. So, this is in no way moronic, instead these things are old fashioned. Airtel is telling a story most of us are familiar with, using relatablility, humour and creativity.
Read Sisi Temi’s tweets below: