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It’s been awhile since I wrote here.  Teetering somewhere between exhaustion, stressed and overwhelmingly busy, I haven’t had much time to blog.  The last few months the emotional roller-coaster that has become my life has continued.  

I don’t want to blog about the things that are still draining me – you might think my life is really that bad!  So I’m going to focus on the things that make me happy.

 As terrible (financially and emotionally) as the Love Games experience was for us, it has helped raise our platform – both as a company, as producers and even as Zambia!  Love Games got picked up by Africa Magic, so now the show is airing across Africa!  How exciting is that?  It’s probably also allowing more people in Zambia (all those who don’t watch ZNBC) to watch it too!  And they get to see the great quality which somehow ZNBC never managed to get right when broadcasting.

If that wasn’t enough to excite us – and it really was – it’s also been picked up in the US and can be seen on Hulu as well as online at Reel African.  Last I heard there was also a Nigerian TV station launching it this month on their channel – all very exciting!  And a few days ago it was announced that Love Games has been nominated for THREE Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards – Best Television Series, Best Video Editor, Best Supporting Actress!  Yay team! 

The success of Love Games, has got us recognised abroad too, and I’m so honored and humbled to have been asked to speak at TEDxEuston, which I did yesterday.

The last few weeks have been so nerve wrecking as I’ve tried to figure out what to talk about.  TEDx talks are so inspiring, how on earth can I do one?!  I’ve focused on something I’m passionate about and just hoped and prayed, for the best!  (That’s for another blog, soon coming) 

We also got to shoot a short spot with the First Lady – that was actually fun – and it was at State House.  It’s great to do things like that every once in awhile.  She was really friendly and all – genuinely so.  It makes you wonder… ehem.  Anyway the end result of the spot looks great! 

After having done what I do for the last 16 years, I’m more passionate than ever about controlling the messages we put out.  Earlier this month we joined forces with IM Studios – and super star producer Mag 44, to produce a song featuring Cleo Ice Queen, Lulu Hangala, Judy-oh and Kantu to address the message we think we should be putting out to women – rise and realise your potential.  Every time this year we recognise the 16 days of activism against gender violence, and while talking about what we could do about it, we asked ourselves, well what do we want women to do about it?  People talk about standing up and joining the fight against this terrible act but then want?

 And if you’ve faced abuse, then what?  

We all really liked that ‘Women are strong’ advert from Sure, so that was our starting point – women are strong.  Let’s pay homage to these strong women, and recognise this strength lives within all of us (women).  Inspired by the Young Lions competition (Cannes Lions Festival), we thought, why don’t we get people in the creative industry to come together on an issue that we think is important and put our creative minds to it – without interference from development organisations and their respective agendas.  

So we’ve started with IM studios and Bongo Hive and hoping to bring in more creatives in the next few weeks.  We feel this is something that can live a long time – until women realise their potential even!  Look out for the song Nyamuka next week and the start of the campaign soon after (I hope!)

As we’re getting to the end of the year, it’s time to focus on next year.  2013 has been a huge learning for me, I can’t underscore all the lessons that have come my way.  I’m learning to focus on the positive and not the negative.  I can complain and whine all day about how unfair life is, on how everything seems to be going wrong blah blah blah, or I can take the lemons and make margaritas from it.  And I do like margaritas!

And I’m learning to be grateful.  This year we have done so much and worked with a great team.  Our focus might have been on Love Games, but we also produced a great video for the Brothers for Life song which aired across the entire three floors of the UNICEF HQ in New York, Love Games travelled and started so many discussions, while also rising the bar for dramas in Zambia.  We got to travel to Luapula to do a documentary for a client, we did the first informercial that set off a chain reaction with other agencies doing their own type of informercials.  Not mentioning the work I’ve already talked about above.  So while my accountant might not be happy with us this year, I’m so grateful for the great products we’ve released.

Take a look at our reel.

Stay Blessed

I haven’t plugged the work I’m doing in Zambia in ages, so thought I’d share the HIV prevention spot my company Media 365 produced on behalf of our client UNICEF, for the Brothers For Life campaign in Zambia.

Finally! Pretty much since the day I arrived back in Lusaka I’ve been working on a campaign for UNICEF Zambia, which is an adaptation of a campaign that was rolled out in South Africa around the 2010 World Cup, Brothers for Life (B4L).

The premise of the campaign is actually a really good one, it’s about recognising the role that men play in the response to the HIV epidemic. In South Africa, they used known personalities to declare that there was a new man in South Africa, a new man that takes responsibility.

Interestingly enough when we pretested the materials the idea of a ‘new man’ didn’t hit home, because the young men – who the campaign was intended for – didn’t really see anything wrong with the so called ‘old men’. They couldn’t connect the dots that those men they saw as successful also had certain behaviours that put them at risk of HIV infection, such as multiple partners, not knowing their HIV status, alcohol abuse etc.

So we knew pretty soon that that message was not the one to go with for Zambia, not unless you explained the links and that was going to be too much for a largely shot form (60 second public service announcements) campaign. What we did like was the message of brotherhood, of fraternity and this is what we wanted to focus on in the creative. Also talking to some of the young men, it was interesting to see that they didn’t feel they had a good handle on what it meant to be a man. That was the next piece of the puzzle, don’t talk about a new man, just redefine what it means to be a man.

From this point, we realised that we couldn’t simple do an adaptation from the South Africa campaign but we were actually going to have to reversion it for Zambia. It was hard work but fun nonetheless.

The campaign in Zambia focuses on promoting condom use, HIV testing, address alcohol abuse and gender based violence. One shocking thing that came out of the campaign launch yesterday was when the UNICEF Zambia representative said that about 83% of women in Zambia believed that when their partner hit them, it was a sign of love (I paraphrase but you get the picture). That’s an absolutely shocking statistic but also a sign of why violence against women is so prevalent in the country.

Anyway, Brothers for Life Zambia has 10 personalities who serve as the inaugural ambassadors, all from across various sectors of society. Some of the ambassadors came together to create the campaign song, which is amazing. I hope I’ll be able to share it online soon.

The campaign made me really aware of the talent we have in Zambia, the singers are unbelievable, even tempted me to want to consider managing them (for another revenue stream! lol! but largely because I’d love to showcase that talent to the world).

Anyway, I’m so proud of the Media 365 team, for all the work and effort that was put in to developing such an amazing campaign. The campaign runs for another two years and we’re contracted to deliver a few more PSAs and a documentary, which I can’t wait to do as I really do find the campaign inspiring and I love working with the Ambassadors!