[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – Some young Jamaican professionals in the local and international media industry, as well as the entertainment landscape, insist that international brands should seek to use more Jamaican talent when showcasing Brand Jamaica in their movies, commercials, and other forms of media content.
Young Professional Panelists
The young professionals were panelists on a JN Bank– sponsored and organized discussion during the recently staged Voxburner’s Youth Marketing Strategy (YMS), ONLINE USA festival. The session, chaired by Shanna Kaye Wright Vaughn, JN Bank Youth Banking Officer and Youth Leader, sought to define the Jamaican brand culture; identify the value of Jamaican brands in the global arena; and recommend ways in which international brands can tap into the Jamaican youth space and culture.
Debbie Bissoon – Marketing 101
“If international brands are going to use the Jamaican brand to market their products, it only makes sense that they ‘come back to Jamaica,’ and invest in the people and culture,” opined Debbie Bissoon, local Media Personality and Producer.
She said the Jamaican culture is widely known and recognizable, globally. She described it as an “intangible energy which can’t be touched, but it will move people, things, and products; as well as get people talking.”
“Don’t just train an actor to speak Jamaican. We will know. We will know it’s not the true thing; we’ll know it’s not authentic. No matter how hard they try. We’ve seen it come up in movies. Especially, where you’ll have a character playing a Jamaican person and we know it is not true,” she pointed out. “You don’t want to poach the culture; you actually want to be a part of it.”
Wright Vaughn – Jamaican Brand is International
Underscoring the importance of Jamaican and Caribbean brands in the international space, Wright Vaughn said through Jamaica’s rich and diverse culture, Jamaican brands have contributed a lot to the world and overseas markets, and are still actively doing so.
Pointing to her own JN brand, for example, she noted how the company in October 2020 created history with the launch of JN Bank UK, the first Caribbean-owned bank in the United Kingdom.
The digital bank, which has a single location in Brixton, targets the Caribbean community. In addition to those underserved by the formal financial system in the UK. It has already been rated “excellent” by the global Danish consumer website Trustpilot.com. As a result, receiving an aggregate score of 4.5 out of 5 by customers in July.
JN also has a presence in the United States of America (USA), Canada and The Cayman Islands.
Bissoon said that Jamaicans can be loyalists; and, therefore, if international brands treat the country and the culture correctly, they will reciprocate with support for those brands.
The “Clarks” Brand
“Clarks has risen to the call, as they stepped up to the plate and aligned themselves with the younger artistes, such as Reggae icon Protégé and his camp; and Reggae star Koffee, among several other icons. For the brands who really mean our culture well, if you found value in the culture, then invest [in] the people and use them, because a lot of persons are just looking for the opportunity to move forward,” she pointed out.
Use Authentic Talent
Mikhail Johns, Jamaican Actor, Host and Emcee had similar views.
“As best and as often as you can, use Jamaican talent. Do your research. Equally important, is allowing the Jamaican talent to actually be authentic. Using Jamaican talent to have them look and sound woefully different from Jamaican defeats the purpose. Allow for the people’s true sounds, looks, selves, and nuances,” he opined.
He added that developed nations are allowed to display their truths, even when they are atypical, and in the same way, Jamaican content ought to be treated with the same respect.
Johns, who recently appeared in “Chill The Series,” which was written and directed by Jamaican writer, Michael Holgate; and aired on YouTube earlier this year, says Brand Jamaica has impacted the world immensely through its representation of Jamaica as the nation for good vibes, entertainment, and relaxation for visitors and onlookers.
Jomarie Malcolm Gordon, Brand Strategist and Chief Branding Maverick at Malcolm Mavericks Creative Consultancy, said the use of people from countries other than Jamaica to depict the Jamaican brand is not the main problem, as one can appreciate that content creators are sometimes limited by the resources available to them.
“However, it is the failure to capture the heartbeat of the country which can run into problems. Often times, one is left to wonder if there was any consultation with the local landscape, as the depictions can veer in the direction of stereotypes, or a cringe-worthy annihilation of our dialect. Who better to represent Brand Jamaica, than Jamaicans?” she argued.
She added that it is important to understand that a brand is not limited in how it is perceived, as by definition, it is someone’s gut feeling about you.