Uganda’s Ghost Women: The case of Nile Special Adverts

From: [Accessed Sept 2013]

They had nothing to do with Independence. Did not make it happen, no.

From Facebook page [Accessed October 17, 2013]

Are they the “friend”?

Posted on Nile Special Facebook page on October 11. (Accessed October 17)

They don’t even deserve Christmas break…

From Facebook page [Accessed Oct 17, 2013]

On August 27th, I noticed that the Nile Special Billboard in Kamwokya had changed. It was pretty exciting because frankly, I was tired of being mad every time I used that route and had to stare at the blatant gender insensitivity. Early this past September we contacted Nile Special to ask why the billboards, in Nakawa and Kamwokya, had changed [We hoped that they would respond with something along the lines of “women didn’t like the billboards” or “We realised we were excluding a percentage of the population in the advertisement.”] This was the response:

We regularly change our billboards based on the campaign and the messaging we want to communicate to the consumers. This is what happened to the billboards at Nakawa and Kamwokya.

I don’t know about you, but I am still digesting the “messaging we want to communicate to the consumers.”

Women drink Nile Special too [Photo credit: Augustin Boisleux]

Women drink Nile Special too #justsaying [Photo credit: Augustin Boisleux]


Nile Special’s Facebook Page

Editorial Note: The post title was changed because the excess carried by “missing women” was not compatible with the post ‘s content, and we didn’t want to confuse our global audience. We have chosen to re-name this “Ghost Women” which is more nationally-compatible as Uganda is well acquainted with ghost people.

11 thoughts on “Uganda’s Ghost Women: The case of Nile Special Adverts

  1. Its about the targeted branding, don’t take it personal. If you like Nile Special, drink it. Just like “baby powder” that is actually used by adults for adult purposes.

    Don’t take it personal.


    • Why is it that when people are called out on gender stuff they are told not to take things so personal? If this was targeted branding on ethnic grounds, we would see the discrimination.. Gender, nope: “Don’t take it personal.”


  2. Becky, it is not about popularity. It is about effectiveness, norms etc.

    Defn, MAN/noun
    .a human being of either sex; a person.”God cares for all men”synonyms:human being, human, person, mortal,individual, personage

    Does that mean the definition is not gender sensitive? Let us not be so literal.


    • It is very clear that this is not the definition of ‘MAN’ Nile is using, just going by the image of 5 different men being saluted for ‘an honest hard day’s work.’ Oh, and 5 guys+a friend. It is very obvious. And blatantly gender insensitive.


  3. Hey,

    Nile Special positions its self as a man’s brand because that is their target audience. When you look at the brand manual, the attributes of Nile Special are masculinity, heritage, honesty, strength, quality, winner and proud among others.

    It’s the way you position yourself that leads to your success. The method has proved to work for them and men are drinking their beer. It’s okay if women are enjoying their beer but it’s not their target audience.


    • I think therein lies the problem. That success is presumed when you target one group. My mother drinks Nile Special. She likes her beers that way. Should she feel, and should society make her feel, that she is ascribing to masculine traits by drinking a beer she likes for its taste?

      What is so wrong with “people”? We could be champion people. We could be a champion Uganda.


      • I have some insider information on this. In as much as there is no mention of women in the Advertising in question, it should not be misconstrued as being gender insensitive. Brands are like identities, the thing that makes us different and unique. The communications have to speak to the core of the brand identity otherwise we risk having adverts with very ambiguous messaging. Ads with no “spunk”. Think of these for example “come sit at the table of people”, “champion people”, “movit petroleum jelly ekizigo kya abantu boona”, “redd’s for the person in you” etc. If we are going to be critical about adverts, then we should talk about ages, sex, tribe, skin color, height, weight etc. Where do we draw the line on what should be included so as not to offend a segment of the public?

        Am sure every product out there embraces every consumer, but a good product has an identity and like it or not, we subconsciously assign a gender to different brands, be it the work of the communications or some other factors. For example try giving a gender to the following: a hummer jeep, a toyota duet, amarula, johnny walker black label, nile special, redds, a pink shirt, a blue shirt, the color blue, the color pink. The list goes on, am sure each of these items are unisex, but I bet you 9/10 people will give each a different sex.

        cheers to the women who love Nile Special. They are truly special.


      • I think the question here is: does the popularity of such advertising make right?

        And really, even Independence and Christmas? Come on!


  4. just wondering if its such a big deal. arent there other areas where women really aught to “fight” for equality than on a beer bilboard.


    • I think equality matters in all sectors Andrew. If we begin to look at things as one being more important than the other we begin the failure to see that it’s more the culture of ignoring women that we challenge vs just where. I’m not sure I said that clearly but I hope you get me. This is more of a yes beer is pretty small in the grand scheme of things, but all inequality is still inequality and still fuels inequality. It’s pretty weird that a company would continuously ignore a part of their market. What exactly are they saying by doing so?


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