School of International Service
Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality and Cosponsored with the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies and the Department of Sociology
Title: “Tapping Imaginaries: Guinness and the African Man.”
Abstract: I explore three recent Guinness Africa advertising campaigns: Michael Power, Guinness Greatness, and Made of More, to interrogate scripts of informality and consumer politics in the making of late capitalism’s African urban man. Whereas the fictional Michael Power was characterized as the James Bond of Africa, subsequent campaigns celebrated everyday heroes: Greatness declaring a “drop of greatness in each man” and Made of More extolling the clandestine sartorial elegance of Congo’s sapeurs. All of the campaigns brought in immense profits from the African consumer market and were widely lauded as exemplary within the advertising industry itself. As significant as their collective appreciation was this shift in representation, and reflected the brewery’s recognition of changing models of accumulation in the African urban informal economy and the corresponding aspirations that they ignited. Guinness’s successful appeal to a new generation of African male consumers provides a case study of multinational marketing in bottom billion capitalism.
Jordanna Matlon is an urban sociologist who studies racial capitalism and the articulation of Black masculinity in Africa and the African diaspora. She is generally interested in the ways “Blackness” operates as a signifier, and as it intersects with gender norms, manifests in popular culture, and illuminates our understanding of political economy. Her book, A Man among Other Men: The Long Crisis of Black Masculinity in Racial Capitalism, is under contract with Cornell University Press.
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