Mozambican vs. Maasai

I was recently able to find a clip of an advertisement that ran a few years ago on Mozambican television. It starts with footage of a line of Maasai warriors performing their famed standing jump whilst wearing traditional clothing. The camera slowly slides past them, revealing at the end a man clothed in a neat shirt and pants, hopping feebly on the spot. It then asks “Precisa de Mola?”. This is a clever play on words – ‘mola’ means spring in Portuguese, but also is slang for cash. The ad works – it’s funny, its striking, quick and to the point. However, two things about it bothered me.

First, this ad is for a visa credit card – why? Granted the play on words actually works, but what is it about the Maasai that makes marketers think of bank accounts and borrowing money? The Maasai are renowned for measuring their wealth in cattle! Also, our discussion on Thursday touched on the subject of shirtlessness – the Mozambican man in the commercial stands out not just because he is shorter and less fit than the others, but more importantly because he is wearing modern clothes. Which is perfectly normal, but seems to emphasize the Maasai’s traditional garb more, implying a difference that I find striking beyond just the visual – it is one African exoticising the other.

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One Response

  1. The ad is funny, it definitely works, but for me, the one thing that threw me off a little bit was the music. It didn’t mesh with the images I was seeing. Occasionally, one of the Maasai would be jumping in time with it, but not always. It also seemed designed to create a care-free funny atmosphere which sets the viewer up for the “Precise de Mola?” question, I guess. But it still seemed dissonant to me.

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