Billboards in Dakar

Vital margarine

I went to the westernmost point of Africa two months ago. Dakar is the capital of Senegal and sits on a triangle-shaped peninsula that prods into the Atlantic Ocean.

One of the unique features of this city is the coastline, known as the ‘Corniche’. Its high cliffs are unlike the prime coastal properties of Cape Town that exist as the terrain of the wealthy. There may be luxury hotels along the Corniche, but whole stretches of it are unoccupied. Anyone can access the edge of the dusty cliffs. Some people even build makeshift homes on it.

Driving along the Corniche highway, I noticed how similar the billboards were. In other cities you’d see a mix of banks, broadcasters, telecoms, fashion and fast-food brands. But in Dakar the billboards were mostly advertising things to eat or drink.

Now, you could point out that this was the month of Ramadan and that savvy marketers were making a special effort to entice the hungry and thirsty citizens of Dakar. But this report about the advertising industry in Senegal suggests that it’s really the norm, food and beverage are the main advertisers. That report also points out how similar the adverts are with “straightforward messages that simply spell out the virtues of the product”. It’s mainly the product, sometimes next to a smiling face, have a look:

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