Bola Balogun is a woman on a mission to ensure the diverse beauty, style, and shade of all African women are accurately represented in beauty campaigns. As the founder of the Glam Brand Agency, she’s introduced various international brands to the Nigerian market. From digital storytelling tactics to media rounds and influencer marketing efforts, her dynamic team has spearheaded projects for Herrera Confidential signature fragrances, Hairfinity products, Maybelline New York, Emmaus Beauty, and most recently Lancôme Paris: My Shade My Power Campaign.
We caught up with the wife and proud mom of five “rock star” children to get insight on how global brands can improve their positioning and marketing outreach in African countries.
Tell us about your background.
I grew up in the DMV area and did all my schooling in America. I attended American University in Washington, D.C. where I majored in psychology and the Fashion Institute of Technology, where I took a course on fashion styling. I started my career as a fashion stylist working with Jill Topol. We worked with several celebrities including Destiny’s Child, N’sync, Britney Spears, Pharrell Williams. Lil Wayne and many more. I was also an intern at the popular Honey Magazine. I had a pretty good styling career in New York. After getting married, I moved to Nigeria in 2005 where I became the first fashion editor for the popular Nigerian women’s magazine Genevieve Magazine. I also co-founded Nigeria’s pioneer fashion styling agency with Omoyemi Akerele. I was an image consultant where we focused majorly on the fashion industry and individual styling. We branched into beauty brands with our first clients being Maybelline and Dark and Lovely.
Recently, you launched Lancôme Paris: My Shade My Power Campaign in Nigeria, which celebrated African excellence, while unveiling its 40 shades Teinte Idole Ultra Wear Foundation for the African market. Why do you think Lancôme, a French leader in cosmetics hired your company to spearhead this campaign in Nigeria?
We possess local knowledge coupled with global insights, which give us a strong understanding of our target market. L’Oreal has been a client of ours for a couple of years and we have worked on several brands under them such as YSL, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, and of course Lancôme and achieved visible results. We have a strong retail entry market strategy. Also, our proven track record with other international beauty companies we have worked with.
How did you choose the 46 leading ladies for the campaign?
My team and I sought diversity; in age, complexion, professional backgrounds, size, and that’s exactly what we went for. We selected women who represented the modern day African woman, who are living their best lives, are achieving their dreams on their own terms.
Reportedly, this campaign was unlike any other Lancôme campaign as it focused on the diversity of beauty across various ages specifically in Africa. Why do you think representation and diversity in beauty is so important—particularly in Africa?
The beauty narrative has mostly come from the Western world but it is important that African women see an image of themselves and leave behind the Western beauty standard and embrace our own unique beauty.
While many mainstream beauty brands have made great strides in diversifying their color range for women of color, there’s still room for improvement. What are some lessons learned or tips that you can share with brands trying to enter and promote their products and services to the African market?
I believe it is important to utilize strategies that the African target market can relate to. In a nutshell, adjust advertising to fit locally. They should also work with reliable local business partners with proven track records. Prior to coming into the market, study the local market as well as the culture and have suitable knowledge of the industry they’re trying to penetrate. Lastly, patience is key. Great strategies take some time to implement.
What other plans do you have to introduce African beauty standards to global markets? Currently, I’m working on an online platform to tell the modern African woman’s story to the world.