Quick Read: There are several fascinating Sub Cultures and Urban Tribes around the world that could give us insights and compelling perspectives into consumer behaviour by way of their unique shared values and behaviours. In each such instance they exemplify how anthropology can influence advertising and vice versa. The Floggers in Argentina and The Sapeurs in Congo are two cases in point.
As a Youth sub culture, THE FLOGGERS originated in Argentina at the end of 2004 and have become popular through their unique fashion and went on to popularise the concept of picture sharing via photo blogs.
Essentially the floggers have two key characteristics:
- They are dressed up in unique style: Floggers wear bright coloured unisex clothing – commonly tight trousers , V-neck T-shirts and canvas trainers and have dyed hair with long emo side fringes which cover their eyes and lip piercings. They have even developed a particular way of dancing to electro/techno music called Electro.
- They share their pics on Fotologs: Floggers take photos of themselves and friends and post them on photo blogs. Among Floggers, Fotolog.com is one such popular platform and lists more than 5.5 million users in Argentina, which is one of the two biggest markets for the site (Chile is the other). Here users comment on one another’s photos. The more comments, the more famous the flogger. (source)
(Flogging Frenzy, Source – The Argentina Independent)
As a sub culture, if you come to think of it, the Floggers represent an interesting niche that are at the intersection of fashion, photography, social media, music and dance. Elite members of such a unique urban tribe naturally become trend setters in fashion and are the de facto voice of their generation cutting across class, creed and hierarchy.
Augustina Vivero a.ka. Cumbio is one such Flogger. She has a fotolog site that is said to be the most viewed Internet sites in Argentina logging 36 million visits in a single year alone! She is known to be the most popular and by many accounts the most influential flogger in the world and by age 17 has catapulted herself to stardom and unexpected affluence by transforming her Internet fame into marketing muscle – signing modeling contracts, promoting dance clubs and writing a book about her life. (source)
(Agustina Vivero a.k.a Cumbio holding a NIKE poster featuring her, Source)
Active members of sub cultures like the Floggers being ‘extreme users’, make for a rich minefield of emerging trends, attitudes, values and vibes of a whole generational cohort for the marketers. Thus they make for an interesting case study on how Anthropology influences Advertising (and arguably vice versa).
The Gentlemen of Bacongo
SAPE – which loosely translates to The Society of The Elegant Persons of Congo – are a group of people whose life is not defined by occupation or wealth, but by respect, a moral code and an inspirational display of flair and creativity by way of their stylish dressing.
In the words of Hector Mediavilla – who photographed the Sapeurs in his outstanding project, the SAPE can be considered to be the most interesting anthropological phenomenon for several reasons. Despite being surrounded by poverty and civil war the Sapeurs:
- Dream on and survive the harsh reality.
- Bring joy to those around them by way of their clothing and
- Are required at funerals, parties and other celebrations to bring a touch of stylishness to these events.
Essentially, while everybody knows their elegance is just a façade but nevertheless, they perform an important social function for their fellow citizens. And in journalist Tom Downey’s words “when men dress as Sapeurs they become different people. Their gait, their gestures, and their manner of speaking are all transformed. The clothes are the gateway into a whole other way of being in the world.”
No wonder, the Sapeurs have inspired some fascinating photography projects, books and even music videos. More recently Guinness has brilliantly weaved the sartorial sub culture of the Sapeurs into their latest campaign, as part of which they enlisted Hector Mediavilla to shoot an inspiring documentary and a TVC.
Guinness Sapeurs TV Ad, Agency AMV, BBDO London
For me, the connect between Guinness as a brand and Sapeurs as a spirit is a creative masterstroke truly befitting the flair and the flamboyance of ‘The SAPE Spirit’.