Be sensitive. Be authentic. Be humane. Be human.

Be sensitive. Be authentic. Be humane. Be human.

Teresa Makori, Associate Creative Director, Dentsu, Isobar Kenya

Follow your intuition. Find the truth. Create good work. Make an impact.

For the six years that Teresa has spent in advertising, these have been the pillars that guided her along the way into creating beautiful, award-winning campaigns for clients such as Godrej, ICEA LION, Safaricom, P&G, Coke, Philips, Diageo, Cadbury, among a few.

Teresa is an award-winning insight-obsessed Associate Creative Director currently working at Isobar/Dentsu Kenya. Teresa believes that deep understandings of consumers is the key to unlocking meaningful connections with them and ultimately, selling to them. This principle in her arsenal for crafting powerful brand stories has led to Teresa being recognised as the first East African woman named in the Next Creative Leaders 2021 roaster.

Outside of work, Teresa is a budding poet, (@reluctant_fingers), a prolific wardrobe singer and music producer, a second-born with five incredibly talented siblings by extremely funny, really inspiring parents, and a huge Marvel and DC universe fan.

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Do you believe in brand sincerity when investing in social content advertising?
Brand sincerity is not only an integral part of how a brand shows up on social content advertising, it’s fundamental to its successful relationship with current and potential customers. It’s just like with a person, you can always sense when someone is not showing up as their authentic self, when they are just doing or saying something because it is what is currently deemed cool, or current, or they think it is what you want to hear. Especially when a brand makes the decision to take up a social cause affecting the society or the environment around them. In these times, it is even more important to be authentic and sincere, which means that what they are saying should match what they are doing internally as a company, or how their service or product is showing up.

How do you come up with an effective message for this type of advertising?
I believe it’s about authentically looking inward instead of rushing directly into being part of any social cause.
Starting with questions; How can my brand truly be part of the solution in this social cause? Is my brand contributing to this problem? If so, can we evolve in some way?

I think it’s also about observing the society around us. Sometimes looking at long standing traditions, stereotypes and cultures, through a lens of whys and what ifs can unlock ideas that un-stereotype, un-culture, and dismantle tradition in a way that is helpful to society.

What advice would you give agencies for communicating messages as sensitive as those involving social responsibility?
There’s a fine line to balance. You need to be able to communicate the importance of your message, without repelling your audience by narratives that may be too graphic, too polarizing, too condescending, too insensitive.
Be sensitive. Be authentic. Be humane. Be human.

If you had the power to change the way advertise is done around the world, what changes would you make?

As a woman, I would be remiss if I didn’t express my wish to inject more representation into the advertising done locally and around the world. A lot of strides are being made, but we can always do more. To represent women (and men!) in un-stereotypical roles. To depict disabled people or neuro-challenged people, in roles that are empowering. Because, when they can see it, you they can be it.  When we create those roles in our media, we inadvertently produce a mirror effect in reality.

As an African youth I would make our advertising worldwide to represent Africa as a continent overflowing with creativity, technological advancements, revolutionary start-ups and youth itching to push their countries and our continent at large to greater heights. I especially love the work created by Malaria No More UK in partnership with Dentsu. Draw the line against Malaria became a movement led by the generation that will end Malaria – the African youth. It was influenced by their culture, and in so involving them, we were able to get the attention of commonwealth leaders who made the commitment to accelerate efforts to halve Malaria by 2023.  By making Malaria part of African youth culture, we inspired a generation to believe in a future without Malaria.

What do you like most about your profession? Why?
I LOVE that we can be a key ingredient in creating and/or shaping culture.

Kenya played an important role in last year’s Luum Awards. What does this mean for Kenyas creative industries?
I believe that brands and the industry have been evolving slowly and gradually to looking beyond their bottom line and becoming forces for good. Creating work that pays back to the society and/or the environment within which our brands and customers are in (which in the end, always pay back to them either in brand love, brand loyalty, brand awareness, and/or brand consideration).

For example, looking at the work done by Dentsu and Safaricom (the biggest telecom in the region) last year to make an alternate currency with loyalty points, called Bonga points, that allowed Kenyans to buy food and access services with these Bonga Points, to the work done by Malaria No More. Or even the work done by Betika, (one of the biggest sports betting platforms) last year to enable deaf football fans to hear a football match for the first time. Or the work by Equity and Ogilvy on creating a program that empowered communities by educating students and bringing them back to their communities to pay it forward.

And lastly, looking all the way back to the incredible campaign of “The Most Eligible Bachelor” done by Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Ogilvy in 2018, which saw millions world-wide rallying around the Tinder account of the then last remaining male white Rhino, Sudan. Millions donated to this simple but impactful campaign to save a species. And their work is bearing fruit years later where scientists in 2021, were able to create an embryo, even after Sudan’s death.  Max Ngari and Emuron Alemu, two of my mentors were the creative minds behind this and their greatest pride is not all the international awards the worked picked up, but the magnitude of impact this had for the White Rhino species.