Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Niger: beauty and the beast
  1. David Simpson

    Statistics from

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

    While much attention is given, deservedly, to the expansionist tactics in the developing world of the big three tobacco transnationals—Philip, BAT, and Japan Tobacco—several smaller tobacco companies are busily emulating them. In Niger, as in other French speaking west African countries, the dominant tobacco company since colonial times has been Seita, the former French tobacco monopoly now merged into Altadis along with its Spanish counterpart Tabacalera.


    Capitalising on Letka (The Flock), a highly successful 1960s film mixing cartoon and human characters that is still remembered by Czech movie goers, the slogan on this Czech tobacco ad says: “The legend returns!”. The brand is made by the Czech company Tabak. Any detailed interpretation of the ad's imagery may best be left to practitioners of the psychoanalytic traditions for which middle Europe is famous.

    Last year's Miss Niger beauty contest demonstrates how the new, smaller tobacco companies can give the big boys a run for their money when it comes to saturation brand coverage in the youth market. The contest was sponsored by Fine cigarettes, manufactured by Seita/Altadis and distributed by Sitab Niger. The wife of Niger's President attended, together with the tourism minister and, significantly for this highly fashion and music conscious nation, a clutch of famous clothes designers and musicians. The event attracted droves of young people and gained extensive television and newspaper coverage. Attractive young women distributed Fine cigarettes, T shirts, caps and bags.


    The Miss Niger beauty contest is also sponsored by Fine.

    Fine also sponsors a biennial international festival of African fashion. Fine's sister brand Excellence sponsors the National Youth Festival, a cultural and sports event attended by more than 3000 young people, and traditional wresting, the most popular sport in Niger, which is covered live on television. Even the courtyard of Niger's parliament carries a Sitab cigarette brand advertisement.


    Traditional wrestling, the most popular sport in Niger, is sponsored by Fine cigarettes, which are manufactured by Seita/Altadis.

    It is not hard to envisage the odds stacked against any politician or government official who might try to ban tobacco promotion in Niger: just imagine finding yourself accidentally dropped into the ring at the Fine national wrestling contest.