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AB InBev and Dentsu are fronting a campaign to return the Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

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By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

April 20, 2023 | 4 min read

A large number of the Benin Bronzes are held in the British Museum, with other notable collections in Germany and the US.

The Trophy Stout artwork for the Reclaim Your DNA campaign on a can of the drink

The Trophy Stout artwork for the ‘Reclaim Your DNA’ campaign on a can of the drink / AB InBev

Trophy Stout and Dentsu Creative Africa are petitioning to return works of art originating from Nigeria home.

Nigerian artists have been commissioned to create new artworks inspired by the Benin Bronzes to draw attention to the absence of the sculptures from their home country. The campaign, led by Trophy Stout – the only indigenous stout brewed in Nigeria – aims to raise awareness of the ongoing impact and cultural vandalism caused by British colonialism.

Hundreds of thousands of Reclaim Your DNA-branded Trophy Stout cans are set to hit the market this week in addition to OOH and social activations. The campaign hopes to reach as much of Nigeria’s 200m+ population as possible and exert pressure on the UK Government to return the artworks.

Sola Musuro, group creative director of Dentsu Creative Africa says: “As Nigerians, we no longer allow anyone to tell us who we are. Our creativity is unique and powerful. From the skilled craftsmen of the Benin Bronzes to the pioneering digital artists of today, our creativity needs to be shared and respected.”

While other individuals and organizations have begun the process of repatriating the artworks, the British Museum has not stated its intention to return the 900 examples it currently holds.

For AB InBev, this is an opportunity to speak to a huge audience of Nigerian stout drinkers and establish its credentials as a brand attuned to their needs. Other stout brands – including Guinness, for whom Nigeria is a key market – do not have the advantage of being brewed in-country, making this campaign both a commercial and moral imperative.

According to marketing director, International Breweries Plc (AB InBev), Bamise Oyegbami: “We believe that Nigerian artifacts belong to the Nigerian people. Their theft has caused significant damage to our communities and affected the pride and dignity of the people. The ‘Reclaim Your DNA’ campaign is our way of standing up for Nigerian, and by extension, African culture and working towards its preservation. Trophy Extra Special Stout is seeking to reconnect Nigerians to the things that define them as a people and enable them to be Black and proud.”

In addition to the key artwork created by artists Valentine “Vee” Ondwudinjo, Maxwell Dewunmi and Godiva Omoruyi to design three striking, modern artworks inspired by the Ife Head, Benin Ivory Mask and Head of An Oba, AR filters are being used to share the campaign. A group of young British Nigerians went undercover in the British Museum, scanning the original artworks to produce digital source material and build AR filters from the designs.

The idea is that Nigerians can add their faces to the AR designs to lend weight to the calls for the return of the Bronzes.

The ‘Reclaim Your DNA’ campaign will run for an initial period of two months when the petition will be taken to the British Government.

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