- Achieving the best price for Okavango Blue will, in turn, feed into investment, skills, jobs, and additional growth opportunities- ODC
- Stuurman has great, organic global reach
The announcement that South African creative and influencer, Trevor Stuurman was engaged as part of the marketing campaign to launch the Okavango Blue diamond by Okavango Diamond Company (ODC) has ruffled Batswana’s feathers in the past few weeks. The state owned company discovered and unveiled what is believed to be Botswana’s largest blue diamond of 20.46 carats named in honour of the Okavango Delta. Batswana were outraged and argued that local creatives were equally capable and deserving of selling the iconic stone that was discovered in their own country to the world.
In their response ODC made it clear that Stuurman was not the face of the Okavango Blue as it was alleged but one of the influencers, creatives and journalists from Botswana and abroad engaged to launch the Okavango Blue.
“The launch of the Okavango Blue was a landmark event in ODC’s history and an opportunity to project Botswana and its diamonds on a global stage. In order to achieve the twin objectives of securing the highest price for this iconic stone and maximizing the exposure of Botswana’s natural diamonds, ODC had to ensure that the campaign reached as many international markets as possible,” said Communications Coordinator of ODC, Dennis Tlaang.
Tlaang went on to explain that Stuurman was selected for his sympathetic treatment of local and authentic African narratives within the countries he works in as well as his reach to a global audience. They brought him into the campaign with the deliberate aim of fostering collaboration with local creatives and talent. Their intention was to spark and inspire interest in the iconic find.
“The launch of the Okavango Blue was the first ‘big bang’ phase of the marketing with further phases or PR work planned in the coming months. Ultimately our approach ensured the campaign received significant international traction in line with the global appeal of a find so rare and iconic. Achieving the best price for the benefit for the people of Botswana will, in turn, feed into investment, skills, jobs, and additional growth opportunities,” he further explained.
During his work in Botswana for the launch of the Okavango Blue, Stuurman worked alongside local creatives including photographers, models, jewellery designers, and make-up artists, who collaborated as part of the initiative. However, some models allege that Stuurman roped them in under the pretense that it was a personal project with no pay and were later shocked to find out it was in fact for the Blue Diamond campaign. Tlaang confirmed that with the exception of Stuurman, all models and talent in the promotional materials used as part of the launch of the Okavango Blue were Batswana who were given credits.
In an interview with local creative who partnered with Stuurman in the campaign, Brilliant Kodie refuted the claims of exploitation saying his engagement was a good move because Stuurman is a well known visual artist who has been exploring different narratives of African countries by collaborating with the local creatives in different countries.
“Even though one could deem this a very risky move for a local company to make, I will applaud their bravery because the results of collaboration are always worth it and I witnessed that even here. To see great people like Naomi Campbell approve of our narrative and celebrate it, was commendable. This is why at the end of the day I get to appreciate why ODC took a risk of engaging Trevor to collaborate with local creatives on this, because he has a great organic global reach,” he opined.