Did Regina Askia have green eyes? Remember her modelling shots for Collectibles back in the day? What was the colour of her eyes in them? Black? No. Lailai.
It was green. At worst, maybe teal. But definitely not black. Only regular black folk like you and I have routine, assembly line, forgettable eye colours. You know why I can never forget Regina Askia’s eye colour? Because Regina Askia was everywhere, selling clothes for Collectibles.
Remember Collectibles? It used to be coolest boutique for the trendiest stuff for the ladies. Their ads, featuring Ms Askia, were ubiquitous—billboards, City People, Hints Magazine, Encomoum, and probably in Ikebe Super too.
I wonder what happened to Collectibles.
Come to think of it, I also wonder what happened to Bevista. Bevista was the best. The most expensive Italian style suits and accessories for the most stylish Lagos gentleman. Bevista was so successful it spun out Rivista for women. Those days, you couldn’t have argued against these businesses’ immortality.
There was also Vivid Imaginations. Shina Peters, king of the youth; and Adewale Ayuba, prince of the yuppies, both made lengthy tracks about Vivid on albums you can still listen to today on Boomplay.
I also remember Sophisticat. That one is still there, fighting hard against younger shops like David Wej, Ouch, and Mai Atafo, Vanskere, and Mudi. Let’s pray for it to win.
The question, though, is, can it?
On November 12, The Walt Disney Company launched Disney+. Before the sun set on that day, Disney+ pulled in more than 10 million subscribers who had pledged to pay about $7 monthly. Don’t do the math; that’s not the point of this post.
The point of this post is that, Disney, although founded 96 years ago, still leads in segments where it’s supposed to be clueless. Remember it all began as an animated studio. Now, Disney owns Lucasfilm, Fox Studios, National Geographic, Marvel Studios, ABC, BlueSky Studios, FX, and Freeform. Don’t forget the cruise line, TV, merch, and parks.
One man started it—he even put his name on it—but it has outlived the man. It is doing much better than the man could have ever imagined. Of course, other companies like Disney have tried and failed where it has succeeded. Some of them were just unlucky; others waited too long before they made a move e.g. Blockbuster.
Netflix killed Blockbuster. Now, Netflix, with its jaw dropping 158.3 million subscribers in 190 countries, must contend with the blinding might of Disney, rolling out the little mouse and co from California to the world. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a new hit series for your entertainment; please set your decoders so you don’t miss the action.
In the meantime, let’s pour one out for the Nigerian businesses that once held promise but have disappointed everyone. I know: Nigerian is a peculiar beast. The economy is a philandering husband. Nothing is certain. So, why compare America or wherever to Nigeria?
I don’t know. Maybe for the fact that I’m naïve enough to still believe that White people are not smarter than us. And that it’s telling on everyone—the government, the business elite, the business schools, the consumers—that our companies rarely last more than the founders’ lifetimes.
While we may choose to hand the government for this sin, there’s one matter we may want to consider: Creative Disruption. Some companies wait for too long, clinging to the past, believing they can’t learn anything from “these small boys and girls who only left school yesterday”. Until it’s too late and the old folks can no longer sell milk.
Why are we talking about milk? Thank you for that question. Last Tuesday, America’s largest milk company, Dean Foods, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. They say they need to slow down a little so they can pay debts and reorganise. But this year alone, sales have already dropped 7% and profits by 14%. They blame the consumer’s move towards non-dairy alternatives such as almond, oat, coconut, and soy.
It’s not as simple as it sounds but should this have caught Dean Foods unawares? If your business is to be the Number One supplier of milk, shouldn’t it be a priority of yours to make milk, no matter the source?
As seller of clothing, say you’re Forever 21, shouldn’t it be a priority of yours to follow the demographic that pays you wherever they are? If they no longer shop at the malls, why spend millions of dollars to renovate new storefronts?
As advertising people, if our job is to help clients tell brand stories, shouldn’t it be a priority of ours to tell brands stories with whatever technology or medium that’s best for the times? Have you checked how Martin Sorrell, founder of WPP and now founder of S4 Capital, is trying to completely cut off creative agencies from the marketing communications value chain?
I want to tell stories. Today I’m on a blog and Instagram. Tomorrow I may using voice notes. After that, I may switch to robots that perform the words to you in your sleep. Whatever works whenever. Guess who’s teaching me that?
Disney. Their motto, it appears, is: Whatever it is, is whatever it is. Disney just wants to be the world’s biggest entertainment company. Hoewver it gets there doesn’t matter. One day Mickey Mouse may die if the world no longer fancies a talking rat. But I bet Disney will continue.
In the next few days, I will publish my chat with Nike Anani, the only Nigerian consultant I know whose practice is focused on African family businesses and their succession planning. She’s even written a book about it. While you wait for the interview, her site is here.