Budweiser, a beer brand from International Breweries, launched in Nigeria in 2018 and is slowly disrupting the two-horse race between Heineken and Guinness. To further emphasize why the Budweiser is regarded as the ”King of Beers” (in America, that is), the brand released a new ad tagged King Stitch, which preached nonconformity, the validity of dreams and ambitions and choosing your own label. With a bouncy, looping rap beat, the ad is striking for its inclusion of celebrities who have defied gender norms and used fashion as a statement of independence (Teni the entertainer and model Uche Uba), one of the poster boys of the alté movement (Tomi Thomas), a model with tribal marks (Adetutu Alabi), and style influencer who is still trolled on Instagram to get a ‘proper job.’ (Jennifer Oseh).
There’s rapper Ladipoe and media personality Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, who tweeted that he lost a presenter gig because he ”sounded too Nigerian,” as if to validate his inclusion in the ad. While losing a gig because of his accent may be true, Ebuka’s appearance in the ad feels like an extra celebrity cushion, you know, because he’s famous and creative projects like these need an headliner. The Diesel campaign to combat online bullying opens with Nicki Minaj, and yes, the ad is similar to Budweiser’s but let’s pretend we didn’t see it. What I couldn’t help but notice – or rather, one person I’d have love to see in the ad – was Bobrisky.
Given their robust social media presence that has involved clapbacks, and attending events to snatch wigs and showing a side of philanthropy, no gender-nonconforming individual in Nigeria has permeated cultural conversations than Bobrisky. Sure, the visibility they have enjoyed partly comes from Nigerians fetishizing and poking fun at Bobrisky’s othered nature. And while it’s the prerogative of Budweiser to enlist anyone in the commercial, Bobrisky in it would have sent a powerful message: that trans people are human beings like everyone else, even though Nigerians are already numb to death from seeing Bobrisky invade their social media feeds. A Nigerian beer brand endorsing a Nigerian trans person – unprecedented.
Besides, we know Bobrisky would have made the ad look all the more sensational, bringing the sauce and imagine the online engagement and extra publicity it would have brought for Budweiser. While Teni and Uche both represent nonconformity in their own way, Bobrisky would have been the icing on the cake.