The success of “Coller La Petite” in 5 steps
At this point in time, unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’re familiar with the International hit “Coller la Petite” by our new national superstar Franko. Although a lot of people are just enjoying the end product and occasionally get to “coller une petite” or to be the petite being “coller”. It is important to recognize the way this particular song disrupted music distribution in Cameroon and beyond. To do so, I propose to share 5 points, which in my opinion explain the success of the song.
The choice of word: Coller la petite.
The way the urban musical landscape is set in Cameroon, I strongly believe that for a rapper or RnB singer to make into the mainstream media, they need to tap into the psyche of the audience. In other words, really connect with what really makes Cameroonians, Cameroonians. This means using deep rooted cultural and even psychological cues. We’ve seen it for the past two years. From “Hein Père”, to “CASH – Mets l’argent à terre”, “La bière c’est combien ici?” or more recently “Ça sort comme ça sort”. If you’re from Cameroon, the combination of these words instantaneously connects with you.
At this point, Franko can push any content out, and it will convert instantly. People have been “primed” to accept what he has to say.
In the past 8 months, Cameroon urban music has shifted from a pidgin-english lyrics dominated landscape to a more francophone friendly environment. The mold of English, or better yet pidgin English with French words was the main gateway because of the success of Nigerian music. Not saying they copied it. I’m saying the audience responded in favor to Afrobeat, therefore artists wanted to capture that segment through its sound. Which is why Franko’s first single didn’t work. Or the likes of DOS Legar, or Nostra never had heavy rotations despite the quality of their lyrics. I’ve argued before that for French speaking artist to bridge that gap they have to merge popular sounds of the guitar rifts unique to Bitkusi, melodies of Makossa and maybe the percussions of Bensikin. Tizeu did it, Kiessou did it. To a certain extent the kids from the Kwatt-n-B movement also succeeded (Numerica, Prosby, etc). Franko et Maahlox le Vibeur are the prime example of this new sound. The type of sound gets played at la Cachette bar in the middle Ntaba as well as in the urban music circle. Get used to it, because it’s here to stay.
Now that we’re done with the music aspect, let’s talk about distribution. Coller la petite is the first WhatsApp hit. Regardless of where in the stream you got introduced to it, the song circulated in WhatsApp first. That single spread like wild fire in the WhatsApp groups. But let me explain briefly why it’s relevant. Smart phones and Social media have tremendously shaped the way millenials worldwide interact with each other, particularly African millenials. In this case, WhatsApp is both the medium and the message. Disclaimer, I’m going to get really philosophical for a second. From the contagion theories’ perspective, WhatsApp is the perfect medium to promote, diffuse, and convert audiences. Posting a song or video in a group of a hundred people is essentially reaching close to 3000 over the course of a week.
The driving force of this song after WhatsApp is unequivocally memes. Before the video came out. Memes and Video memes circulated on whatsapp and on other platform such as Vine, Instragram and Twitter. Again, contagion played a major role. People made the song their own. This is content strategy 101. Push content out and make people create their own content and become free ambassador for your message. Franko got so much free advertising that he surpassed the minimum exposure ratio that create conversation. (if you don’t know, in advertising, a message can only convert sales if people are exposed to the right message a minimum of 5 times). Let’s do the math. How many times did you listen to the song when you first got it? Then add the number of times you saw memes and video memes. At this point, Franko can push any content out, and it will convert instantly. People have been “primed” to accept what he has to say.
This is important because of the “choice of word” and the “sound”. Again, because of our culture and common culture, we’ve all been primed to respond to certain cues (words and sounds). Looking at Drogba and any other celebrity that came out and shared their rendition or performance of the song with their respective following increased Franko’ reach from his core following to these celebrities’ following.
I think Franko really studied the game and people that made waves in Cameroon and beyond in the past few years. I’m not sure who’s in his team, but they’re doing a good job organically. Meaning they were able to leverage success with little to no means. If you read between the lines, he’s taking a page from everyone’s book. For example, I will argue that he noted the importance of longevity from Stanley Enow who really capitalized on Hein Père before doing anything else.
I will argue that he noted the importance of longevity from Stanley Enow who really capitalized on Hein Père before doing anything else.