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Am I Collective - representations of African identity in football advertising. As a contemporary African design agency, how does Am I Collective showcase modern and traditional representations of African identity within the competitive realm of football advertising?
In the following document the above question will be answered by means of qualitatively researching African identity and aesthetics, the history of African football, the impact the game has on society regarding sport development, education, and its economic importance - through employment creation, consumer spending, and most importantly advertising. The use of a case study will also be utilised in order to support the outcomes of the above questions.
To greater understand the sheer magnitude of the African continent one can observe that the continent accommodates over two thousand languages, consists of thousands of cultures, each with its own system of reason and communicative mediums. Given the extraordinary diversity of the African continent, there are no single aesthetic philosophy that can characterise Africa as a whole. In support to the previous statement, each culture may possess several aesthetic discourses, as do artistic genres. In modern-day Africa, globalisation complicates aesthetic philosophy to the extent that one cannot discuss the aesthetics of contemporary African art without taking into account transnational paradigms and hybrid visions. (Science Jrank, 2010).
According Jean-Godefroy Bidima, the interpretation of African art mainly centres on religion both by European and African writers. While Engelberth Mveng believes, religion strongly features as the final foundation of African aesthetics. The former president of Senegal and author of several books, Leopold Senghor, believed otherwise. Senghor firmly believed that rhythm is the ultimate foundation of African aesthetics. Senghor expressed that rhythm is the architecture of the African being, the vital force and the dynamism behind the variety of forms. (Imamichi et al., 2009, p.21).
The vital force at the same time expresses itself on various levels; geographical, social, contextual, historical, mythical, and artistic. Therefore demonstrating that the vital force in all its forms and levels is identical to itself, and diversifies itself in a manifold. (Imamichi et al., 2009, p.21).
African art is even more complicated by expressing itself in a dynamic dualism. In whatever medium or type, African art is always in a state of transition - it never stops changing. Depending on the place and context, African art changes its appearance while also trying to liberate its hidden essence - the vital force. If one observe football in the context of players and game rules and regulations, the game of football is similarly in a continues state of transition with players being exchanged by various football clubs therefore resulting in players shifting throughout the world, while game rules and regulations change every year to accommodate various obstacles and to offer new innovative characteristics to the game of football. Melodic texts in African musical arts are composed of, and move between a vast variety of elements, from mere playing to the sacred, political, and pedagogical. African art forms are living elements, and are never at rest. These living art forms move between the audible and the inaudible, the said and unsaid, and the visible and invisible. Therefore an element of uncertainty always surrounds African art. The need to create something new while also taking care of traditions plays an important role in the element of uncertainty in African art. (Imamichi et al., 2009, p.21). If one observes the importance and impact the game of football has on African society or any society for that matter, one would find it problematic to narrow the implications down to a mere list. For some cultures or communities the game has a far greater importance to them than to that of others, such as the game offers a route to financial freedom for many poor communities or offers many impoverished groups the opportunity to education and so forth. The game of football offers an element of uncertainty similar to that of African art whilst serving various functions within society.
Displayed in the realm of possible, African aesthetics provides "Beauty" with an element of transition as well. "Beauty" is the sense of achievement and an event. "Beauty" displays itself in various contrasts, namely, between the beautiful and the ugly, the past and future, as well as harmony and disharmony. African aesthetics contributes to the living community in this manner. (Imamichi et al., 2009, p.21).
One way to demonstrate African aesthetics and how the uniqueness of African art contributes to the African identity by showcasing inventiveness, beauty and effectiveness, while interconnecting itself with African football on a global stage - one can examine the hand-painted Ghanaian Mobile Movie Posters from the 1980's and its vital importance in a recent advertising campaign for the FIFA Football World Cup held in South Africa - by the American sport's television broadcaster ESPN.
During the 1980's, Ghanaian entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to create mobile open-air movie theatres with the introduction of video cassettes and bringing in many cases, Western films to remote Ghanaian audiences. The mobile theatre owners needed to promote their current and future film screenings in order to stir-up interest, therefore in turn theatre owners commissioned Ghanaian artists to hand-paint many of the promotional movie posters - largely on sliced-up flour canvas sacks. (Error: Reference source not found). These commissioned artists were encouraged to take substantial liberties with the posters, with many of the painters never even viewing the particular films, only hearing descriptions from the theatre owners. These methods in return resulted in many movie posters being simply copies of the images on the video cassettes, while others depicted wild interpretations of the particular films. (Davis, 2009). The methods utilised as well as the reasons these particular movie posters were produced swiftly portrays various essential characteristics of African art; such as these posters served a function in promoting the particular films within the specific communities, whilst indicating the African innovation by painting on sliced-up flour canvas sacks. The African way of conveying information verbally is also evident in the creation of many of these hand-painted movie posters.
At the end of 2009, the American sport's television broadcaster ESPN commissioned the South African illustration house, Am I Collective, under the direction of New York based advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy, to produce 33 murals as part of an advertising campaign to promote the much anticipated sporting spectacle, the FIFA Football World Cup 2010 in South Africa. A team of nine skilled illustrators designed for a period of three months in order to produce the final murals, with intense depth and attention to detail. The illustrators utilised the above mentioned Ghanaian 1980's movie posters only as reference, whilst at the same time creating the murals with an experimental, yet refined and contemporary African feel. Each mural depicts a participating nation's ambitions and/or characteristics. (Error: Reference source not found Am I Collective managed to create a global advertising campaign with an African base - not only promoting an African artistic style, but also showcasing the immense talent present on the African continent to world. (Marklives!com, 2010).
The following research document will be based on post-colonial African discourse and a current academic framework. The chosen research topic plays a personal importance in my interest in the chosen sport of football, particularly African football. The chosen research topic is furthermore tremendously relevant to recent happenings on the African continent, particularly South Africa - being the first African nation to host the world largest sporting spectacle, the FIFA Football World Cup. "Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the international governing body of the sport of association football (sometimes called simply football, or soccer). FIFA is based in Zurich, Switzerland." (Word IQ, 2010).
A variety of academic and non-academic published books and electronic references will be utilised in order provide the needed support for the research topic. Furthermore a detailed case study of Am I Collective and several of their football advertising campaigns will be accordingly utilised in order to lean support towards the research topic. A variety of elements and factors would be examined and taken into account when relating to the chosen research topic.
Summary of Chapters
Chapter one introduces the chosen research topic of; how Am I Collective showcases modern and traditional representations of African identity within the competitive realm of football advertising.
While chapter one introduces the chosen research topic, the aims of the following research document are set out as follows; to answer the questions pointed out by the research topic by means of qualitatively researching African identity and aesthetics, the history of African football, the impact the game has on society regarding sport development, education, and its economic importance - through employment creation, consumer spending, and most importantly advertising. The use of a case study will also be utilised in order to support the outcomes of the above questions.
Chapter one furthermore provides a general context and brief introduction to African aesthetics and discourse, while giving an explanation to how the above statements relate to the chosen research topic, with reference to a particular Ghanaian artistic style and a recent advertising campaign for the American sport's television broadcaster ESPN.
Chapter two provides a detailed introduction into African aesthetics and discourse as well as the history behind these statements. Throughout chapter two a thorough contextualisation will take place in order to explain and provide in-depth evidence to support the chosen research topic of African football.
Chapter three will introduce a detailed case study to support the chosen research topic. The case study involved is that of the recent FIFA Football World Cup event held in South Africa during 2010. Varies factors would be examined in order to fully understand the impact the event had on the African society, changes in global perceptions, economical importance, sport and educational development, and the lasting legacy this major sporting event left behind.
Chapter four will conclude the research paper on African football. The conclusion will review the research topic and the information or findings contained within the document, and determine whether the research topic was fully answered.
The notion of what Africa is or what it should feel like to be an African is a complex concept that makes it extremely problematic to explore. Particularly in the contemporary era, the concept 'Africa' is conceived differently in various geographical and historical contexts by both Africans and non-Africans. As the African continent's boundaries - geographical, cultural, historical, and representational - shifted over time according to the dominant conceptions and configurations of global powers and racial identities, so did the meanings, descriptions, images, and discourses of Africa. Both the processes of African integration and contemporary globalisation reconfigured the boundaries and meanings of Africa up until the start of the twenty-first century. (Science Jrank, 2010).
Discourses on the notion what Africa is, can be examined in various methods. The most common approach to examine the concept of Africa is to analyse the Afrocentric and Eurocentric paradigms, and to distinguish between the beliefs and conceptions of what Africa really is to the 'West' and to Africa itself. The 'West' or 'First' world, are "the countries of the world that are well developed economically and industrially and that have a relatively high standard of living" (Your Dictionary, 2010). This method assumes homogeneity within each paradigm and creates an epistemic division between the Afrocentric and Eurocentric approaches, which in return makes it rather problematic as the two paradigms are otherwise intensely implicated with each other. Other taxonomic and typological approaches of what Africa is can include the following; ethnical, religious, linguistic and ecological classifications. As with the Afrocentric and Eurocentric contrasting paradigms, these do not exhaust the possibility of other categorisations, nevertheless they do however have heuristic importance. (Science Jrank, 2010).
In recent years the question of who is African and who is not are continuously re-examined as the cultural life of the African continent change over time. For many individuals to be considered an African is to be black in skin pigmentation, therefore non-white - the scale of authenticity merely being measured on physical racial differences. A vast number of people have in some way a link, or connection to the African continent that they feel entitles them to call themselves African. Naturally there are those individuals called Negroes - born and bred in various African states formulating their nationals. Negro Africans may contribute to the majority of the African continent's population, however this particular ethnic group are neither the exclusive inhabitants nor are these individuals the sole producers of art and culture within the continent's borders. (Mbembe, 2007, p.26).
For various reasons throughout the history of the continent, several ethnic groups from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East have decided to settle in Africa. Some groups arrived as traders, conquerors, or missionaries such as the Europeans and Arabs. Some groups fleeing various misfortunes from their native regions, avoiding persecution, or simply driven by the potential wealth offered by the continent or the hope of creating a new 'African' life, while many groups also settled under tragic circumstances such as the Jews and Afrikaners. Many other ethnic groups essentially immigrated to the continent to serve as labour whilst settling down with families, such as the Indians, Chinese, and Malays in the Southern African region. As these vast numbers of ethnic groups arrive in Africa, they bring and offer different customs, languages, clothing fashions, eating habits, specific ways of praying, and so forth. This in return results in complex relations between the various diasporas and their communities of origin, with many of their members viewing themselves as fully-fledged African individuals. (Mbembe, 2007, p.27).
While the African continent has been a destination throughout the centuries for various population movements and cultural inter-mixing, Africa has also been a point of departure to various corners of the globe. This process of dispersal or emigration traditionally followed the routes via the Sahara, the Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean. The establishment of Negro African diasporas throughout the various Caribbean Islands and the North American continent is a direct result of emigration, more specifically forced slavery. The slave trade not only involved the European and American continents, but the Middle Eastern and Asian continents also played crucial role in the process of dispersing Negro Africans throughout the world. As a result of this inhumane practice of slave trade, traces of Africa cover enormous aspects within the Islamic and capitalist spheres. Currently, millions of individuals of African origin have become citizens of various nations worldwide. Many migrations were driven by force from previous centuries through slavery. However countless migrations were also the result of colonisation. (Mbembe, 2007, p.27).
According to the African scholar Achille Mbembe, the African continent forms part of a phenomenon called worlds-in-movement. The phenomenon consists of two elements, that of dispersion as mentioned above and that of immersion. Factually, the process of dispersion of various populations and cultures were not just about foreign groups settling on the African continent. The pre-colonial history of African communities consisted mainly of a history of societies in continuous movement throughout the African continent. An African history of constant colliding cultures caught in a turbulence of migration, inter-marriage, war, invasions, a collection of various religions adapted to African needs, trading of goods, and the exchange of a vast number of techniques and skills. The paradigms of mobility, displacement, and itinerancy provide methods to greater understanding of the cultural history of the African continent as a whole. (Mbembe, 2007, p.27).
It is this very African culture of blending, mixing, and superimposing that European colonialists tried to challenge with the introduction of borders. The second element of the worlds-in-movement phenomenon is immersion as mentioned before. This element affects various factors of minority groups that have decided to settle and start new lives on the African continent. As time passes, the links the minority groups have to their countries of origin become extraordinarily intricate. Through the interaction of various cultures, environmental climates and new geographies these minority groups develop into cultural hybrids - forming new African identities. (Mbembe, 2007, p.28).
The worlds-in-movement theory discussed above offers a contemporary perspective of African identity, and what it means to be and feel like an African. A theory and perspective I personally support as I view myself as a fully-fledged African and nothing else. This theory also supports the contemporary characteristics and approach of the design agency Am I Collective, which would be discussed later in the document.
In order to gain greater knowledge regarding the importance of African football, one needs to examine the history of African football in further detail.
Although the global perception of African football has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades, there still exists a view of African football that is generally resembles that of a dusty un-grassed field, 'wonky' wooden goalposts, and a group of barefoot children playing with a rag ball for entertainment. An element of truth does exist within this theory, as the Africa continent's uneven poverty does not provide quality equipment and/or facilities to every community compared to other regions of the world. However Africans do improvise in order to produce an opportunity for football participation through various innovation solutions; such as creating a football consisting of many rolled-up plastic shopping bags. However with these elements in mind, the early history of African football suggests a more complex and sophisticated game present on the continent - money, tactics, racism, and magic all played vital roles in its century long existence. In fact, the tale of football on the continent is not just that of a game, but it is encoded with the extreme complexity of the African colonial experience. (Lord, 2008).
Football like various other colonial imports were a European innovation, however the game itself gained popularity on the continent through the organisation and sheer enthusiasm of Africans. Several colonialists promoted football to communities as they hoped the game would instil the values of obedience, sobriety, co-operation, and selflessness among Africans. When African societies saw and imitated the European playing styles, they rapidly developed a demand for the creation of organised teams. These teams were primarily controlled by their European counterparts - however soon after resisting against European interference several African communities gained control of their respective teams. (Lord, 2008).
The development of teams was soon followed by the creation of local football associations or football bodies. Various towns in South Africa had associations by the late 1910's, while other colonies only developed theirs later on in the century. The football associations organised various competitions, provided entertainment for match day crowds, while also paying fees to the municipal authorities for their provided services. The rise in football associations were linked to another colonial import, literacy. As football associations had to settle disputes in writing, arrange competitive match days, and file their accounts with the participating governments. This level of organisation by associations suggested that African communities did not simply participate in football for sheer enjoyment. African football were rapidly commercialised and therefore provided a much needed income for impoverished players. Teams would generally negotiate over appearance fees, prize monies, and transport allowances. European teams in many cases complained about the commercialisation of the game, stating that teams only participate for the financial benefit. (Lord, 2008).
In various urban regions football clubs were often combined with mutual aid societies and played a valuable social role, such as migrant workers utilising football clubs to replace the social and material support structures they most often left behind at their rural origin. The particular football style played in colonial Africa shifted with experience, fashion, and external influences. The general understanding is that African players excel at stylish, attacking football, while relying on flamboyant displays of individualistic skill. African football players were not entirely isolated from wider trends within the game, and rapidly adopted various new strategies and techniques. The tight passing playing style and collective ethos of African players inspired a tactical revolution among local teams during tours of South Africa in the 1930's by British club Motherwell. During the 1950's in Brazzaville, a French coach decided to rebel against the popular British football style resulting in his team dominating the league with man-marking and short passes. During World War Two period a newly established Ghanaian team promised that its innovative tactics would easily defeat the out-dated playing tactics of any of their rivals. African football rapidly became a new symbol of modernity with African players striving to keep the game interesting and innovative on the continent, however there were distinctive African elements present - ritual sacrifices and witchdoctors. (Lord, 2008).
The organisers of the African Cup of Nations Ghana 2008 spectacle were keen to showcase the modernity of African football to the world - promotion via various thriving mobile phone networks, multinational advertising billboards and other printed mediums, various electronic formats, and several promotional imagery of gleaming stadiums with football players eagerly awaiting kick-off. However playing a vital role present and past throughout many African football games, whilst being relatively unknown to many beyond the borders of the African continent is the importance of ritual sacrifices and witchdoctors - elements that are more traditional in essence. African football was swiftly assimilated into local religious practices throughout the development of the game. Believed to gain supernatural boosts if team's win their matches after performing ritual practises. The use of prayers, talismans, and medicines forms a valid and expensive integral part of match preparations. According to believe in Northern Zimbabwe, dead ancestors continue to influence the world of the living with football skills and techniques being transferred into the afterlife. The use of spiritual tactics by African teams appalled some European teams, with missionaries eagerly promoting their teams as 'more saintly'. However the popularity of football on the continent forced the European missionaries to compromise with local spiritual beliefs. (Lord, 2008).
The use of spiritual practices within the game of African football as indicated above clearly showcases the importance of the vital force similar to that of African art - a crucial characteristic of African aesthetics.
Seeking a connection between African discourse and African football, one can examine the manner in which the Western perceptions of African players have changed dramatically in recent years compared to as early as two decades ago. During 2008, various major European football clubs requested that the Africa Cup of Nations be moved to a different time period during the year, as they lose valuable football skills every time an African player is called up to national team duties. "The Africa Cup of Nations, also referred to as the African Nations Cup (ANC) is the main international association football competition in Africa. It is sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), and was first held in 1957. Since 1968, it has been held every two years." (Wikipedia, 2010). This evidently indicates that in the past two decades African football has become a formidable force on the global game of football. Previously, the majority of European clubs viewed African players' quality and skill as not on par with Western players' abilities, however with development in the sport increasing dramatically in recent times and football forming an integral part of African children's lives, this view has clearly changed. (Samuels, 2008, p.132). Financial investments from European clubs in various African football clubs - one connection would be that of Ajax Amsterdam and Ajax Cape Town - is also evidence that the out-dated Eurocentric perceptions of African football has changed dramatically. As these investments in return help deliver world-class African football players, while also lending a helping hand in educating financially stricken youth players through various football academies on and off the African continent.
The following chapter of the research document consists of an in-depth case study regarding the South African design agency, Am I Collective. Furthermore, various football related advertising solutions created by the agency would be examined in great detail.
With the ghostly remains of Apartheid long past its zenith, a new breed of 'alternative' Afrikaners is producing a magnificent, guilt-free visual language for the South Africa of their future. The novel Generation X by Douglas Coupland offered pop culture an 'umbrella' term that encapsulates the mind-set of a specific age group. Am I Collective offers the South Africa society its own unique 'Generation A'. With the 'A' capturing various elements such as 'Afrikaans', 'top class', 'an alternative perspective', while finally also representing 'Am I Collective'. (The Design Indaba Magazine, 2006).
The Am I Collective illustration agency consists of a team of fifteen young innovative designers many hailing from the one-time 'Broederbond' stronghold more commonly known as Stellenbosch. (Figure 4 - Am I Collective). Although several of these creative geniuses studied in the great shadow of the Hottentots Holland Mountains accompanied by a dark Afrikaner history, the members of the Collective agency hold no such allegiance with the past. The agency argues that the time has arrived for the 'new' Afrikaner to rise up from the shadows. The Collective's three founding members Ruan Vermeulen, Mark van Niekerk, and Christo Basson all provide clear evidence that a new political dispensation has birthed a renewed South African mind-set. One in which the Afrikaner identity had to promote a new fight for definition and significance in the post-Apartheid South Africa, an identity that is bursting into the colours of the 'rainbow' nation while rejecting the conservative 'oranje, blanje, blou'. "The rainbow nation refers to the newly united Republic of South Africa - post-Apartheid." (The Design Indaba Magazine, 2006).
The above philosophy is translated by the innovative design solutions of the Creative into its visual counterpart. The elements portrayed to audiences in the agency's ornamental layouts are the declarations and ambitions of the Afrikaner Avant Garde taken into twisted and swirling forms that showcase only hope and glory - an unfazed youthful optimism developing its own fantastical future. The founding members once described the identity shift as a 'revolution' in the psyche among the Afrikaner youth, where traditional and conservative values have long since been uprooted and demolished. It's a generation that truly came of age during the post-Apartheid period, a generation unsaddled by guilt, and positively proactive about the future. Founding member Christo argued that the Afrikaner community is done feeling bad about previous generations' wrong doings regarding Apartheid. Whilst stating that the likes of musical groups such as 'Fokofpolisiekar' influence the agency with its lyrics - lyrics that convey a message of no guilt and strength. However various other music genres and languages also have a direct influence on the agency's aesthetic sensibility as a whole. (The Design Indaba Magazine, 2006).
Am I Collective's graphic style is tremendously layered, due to each designer contributing their highly creative skills - with projects being passed back and forth several times before completion. No-one is considered more precious than another - all involved in the agency are collaborating on every single piece. However room for individual expression does remain within the agency, but in the form of various side-line ventures and creative pastimes. (The Design Indaba Magazine, 2006).
Besides that Am I Collective's visual style is extremely recognisable, an additional element that distinguishes the Collective is that its members truly uphold the values implied by their coalition. Together with every single designer, the Collective has formulated an inter-reliant, symbiotic working relationship that provides its members with the opportunity to bypass the egocentrism and work-traffic complications that may plague a larger design agency. One of the Collective's aims is to be able to collaborate with as many different people as possible - this provides the opportunity for the agency to be exposed to various other design styles which in return inspires the Creative to produce innovative design solutions. (The Design Indaba Magazine, 2006). The Collective's design studio itself consists of tables with small-sized wheels attached to them, and were designed by the Collective members themselves in order to ensure a temporary changing environment for its designers. This element further supports the Collective's drive to ensure inspiration comes from various factors. (Oh Goodness Greatness, 2009).
After examining Am I Collective in greater detail regarding work ethic, theories, inspirations, and its outlook on life from a post-Apartheid African identity, one can clearly observe that the agency's members follow a similar philosophy than that proposed by African scholar Achille Mbembe mentioned earlier in the document. One need not be of a darker skin tone to be considered African, if one believe and trust one are part of the diverse African continent, one embodies an unique African identity. To truly observe the presence of African aesthetics and identity in Am I Collective's design pieces, one may examine the various football advertising campaigns completed recently by the agency for various global brands in order to promote several elements of the much anticipated FIFA Football World Cup 2010 spectacle hosted within the borders of the Collective's native homeland, South Africa.
Football on the Coke Side of Life
The Coca-Cola advertising campaign were of global proportion and was designed to celebrate Coke's involvement in football and to promote the first ever African football world cup during 2010. (Figure 5 - Football on the Coke Side of Life). The British based design agency, Attik, commissioned Am I Collective in order to provide the Coca-Cola advertising campaign with a much needed African visual identity. Am I Collective responded by providing basic design elements that ultimately took the shape of the African continent. The logotype that the Collective developed was distributed worldwide at various points-of-sale locations, on special promotional Coke soda-cans, and billboards. (Marklives!com, 2009).
FIFA Football World Cup 2010 Official Concert
Am I Collective were commissioned to design a poster and scrims for the FIFA Football World Cup 2010 kick-off music concert. The poster and scrims depicted a Makarapa Rasta male portrait. (Figure 6 - Am I Collective's Poster for the 2010 Official Concert). A Makarapa is a plastic hat that is normally worn by football enthusiast to football matches in South Africa. The Makarapa itself is unique to the South African football scene and portrays various elements with hints of strong organic colours throughout. Several typographic design elements accommodate the portrait of the Makarapa Rasta male. (Am I Collective, 2010).
Nike - Bleed Your Colours
Am I Collective were commissioned to animate and direct a 30 second viral video for the Nike Sportswear Six Collection. Throughout the Bleed Your Colours campaign Am I Collective represents the spirit of South Africa - the host nation to the continent's first FIFA Football World Cup. The video was filmed on locations in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Am I Collective created a mascot that rapidly moves through the cities like a virus infecting the urban atmosphere. (Figure 7-8 - Bleed Your Colour for Nike). The mascot throughout its journey changes colours, each colour portraying the mascot's personality. Green represents growth and development, yellow - speed and endurance, while black showcases the darker competitive side of football. (Bernstein & Andruilli, 2010).
First National Bank - Kuduzela
Am I Collective were commissioned by advertising agency Draft FCB South Africa to create various illustrations for its First National Bank FIFA Football World Cup 2010 campaign. The Collective set out to produce vibrant, eye-catching illustrations with influences from various South African iconography, local artistic characteristics, and popular culture elements to demonstrate First National Bank's Proudly South African status while emphasising the bank's commitment to the FIFA Football World Cup 2010. (Figure 9 - FNB Kuduzela). The 'Kuduzela' element within the illustrations provides support to the South African identity - 'Kuduzela' is a vuvuzela sculpted in the shape of a traditional Kudu horn. The 'Kuduzela' functions as a cornucopia from which spills a feast of football elements intermingled with popular local slang, whilst being treated typographically to ensure a true African feel. (Biz Community, 2009).
Cosafa Under-20 Championship
Advertising agency Lowe Bull South Africa commissioned Am I Collective to design a number of promotional posters for the Cosafa Under-20 Championship held in Zambia during 2008. The Collective based the poster designs on a distinct African textile pattern. (Figure 10 - Cosafa Under-20 Championship). Throughout each of the posters the Collective portrayed various courageous characteristics of successful young football players through several character designs, such as a 'Heart of a Lion' and so forth. (Am I Collective, 2010).
ESPN FIFA Football World Cup 2010
The following campaign is Am I Collective's most significant product of football based advertising to date. The campaign was hailed throughout the critic's sphere for its sheer creative genius. As mentioned earlier in Chapter One, Am I Collective were commissioned by the American sport's television broadcaster ESPN to produce 33 murals as part of an advertising campaign to promote the first African FIFA Football World Cup hosted by South Africa in 2010. The use of hand-painted Ghanaian 1980's movie posters as only reference by the Collective whilst creating the murals is also stated above. (Error: Reference source not found
The following would examine particular posters within the ESPN advertising campaign in greater detail. If one observes the mural that portrays the United States of America, one would clearly recognise that it imitates Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's 'Washington Crossing the Delaware', however it the minor details that ensures the poster jumps out at the viewer. In addition to the motto 'E Pluribus Unum' carved on the side of the boat, the date of 1950 indicates the year the United States defeated the English in the Football World Cup, the match is still considered currently to be one of the greatest upsets in the history of the tournament. The FIFA Football World Cup 2010 offers these two nations the opportunity of a rematch. (Lin, 2010).
Several of the murals are relatively easy to decode, such as North Korea's mural referencing the team's nickname 'Chollima' - Winged Horses, while Honduras' mural portrays Carlos Pavon, David Suazo, and Wilson Palacios lifting up the whole country. The Japanese mural is extremely simplistic in its elements, with a samurai weapon impaling the national jerseys of Denmark, Netherlands, and Cameroon - the countries Japan would face in the group stages of the 2010 tournament. The Dutch mural features the nation's best football players flying through the air similar to that of superheroes - flying Dutchmen, whilst the Spanish mural portrays striker Fernando Torres as a toreador. The mural of Switzerland portrays the Swiss players as implements in a Swiss Army knife, while the Uruguayan mural replaces Diego Forlan's face for the face on the sun on the nation's flag with the two World Cup title trophies of the South American team. The Danish mural is inspired by former long-time coach Morten Olsen with a pun on the title of 'Ocean's Eleven'. The French mural portrays national players Frank Ribery, Thierry Henry, and Nicolas Anelka as the infamous Three Musketeers, however Henry's cheating left hand cheekily glows. (Lin, 2010).
Several of the murals do however require the viewer to put greater effort into the interpretation process. Glancing over the Australian mural one might merely see a 'kangaroo-man'. However the mural depicts a portrait of the Australian captain Tim Cahill who famously celebrates scoring goals by throwing various boxing combinations. The Slovenian mural provides the audience with a greater challenge. The player depicted in the mural is that of Zlatko Dedic, who propelled then Slovenes into the FIFA Football World Cup by scoring the winning goal offer rivals Russia. The vanquished Russians are depicted as a dead bear, while the snow-covered mountain range in the background if a geographical feature of Slovenia. (Lin, 2010).
The Italian mural portrays Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, and Fabio Cannavaro as classical Roman gladiators fighting off a lion - England, an orange elephant - Cote d'Ivoire, and the bird on the Spanish flag. The Mexican mural depicts a great Aztec pyramid motif, while New Zealand's national players Ryan Nelson, Shane Smeltz, and Mark Paston perform the traditionally Rugby tradition of the 'Haka'. (Lin, 2010).
The ESPN FIFA World Cup murals proved so popular among fans that many eagerly searched for any poster's to keep as souvenirs for the World Cup. After the FIFA tournament crowned its new champions, Am I Collective set out to produce a commemorative mural celebrating the Spanish victory. (Figure 11 - Tribute Poster for World Cup Winner Spain). The commemorative mural follows the same artistic approach to the advertising campaign. (Bernstein & Andruilli, 2010).