City Nights: Lagos

Our KIN network takes us on a trip to their home cities. First up, we join creative entrepreneur Toye Sokunbi on the Lagos party scene…

Toye is a creative entrepreneur and founder of ARTISH, a Lagos-based human resource start-up for creator economy freelancers. We asked him to take us on a tour of Lagos after nightfall.

“The night is like a balm to the severity of the day. Extreme affluence side by side with poverty; harsh conditions; mile-long traffic on failing infrastructure – there’s a lot to contend with during the day in Lagos.

But, at night time, there’s a calmness that overcomes the struggle.

Difficulties are washed over by a kaleidoscope of streetlights, silhouettes and the ocean stretching out from the shores of the city.

Everything seems to stop in a moment in time. Even a packed club with bass pumping from the speakers feels like a reprieve…”

Toye shares his best nights in Lagos. Find out more about the Crowd DNA KIN network here.

There ain’t no party like a Lagos party

Lagos’ biggest party season is in December, and a frenetic series of mixers, exhibitions, weddings, birthdays, house parties, concerts, music festivals, club nights and more that begin in the last days of November stretching through December, and sometimes bleeding into the early weeks of the new year. ‘Detty December’ as it’s fondly called by Lagosians has gained global infamy in recent years as a seasonal destination for hedonist debauchery and cheap but tasteful fun.

Now ‘Detty Easter’

A growing number of events are packing out Easter holiday weekends. Though relatively milder compared to the Detty December, it’s not unusual for big UK and US artists to have headline concerts in Lagos during Easter, or for Nigerians in diaspora and holidayers from around the world to party in Lagos for a few days during Easter. With reduced flight costs in April, and the mellower pace, Detty Easter is a budget-friendly Detty December.

Budget Lagos nights

Clubbing is not cheap anywhere in the world, and Lagos is no different. Recently though, the demand for pocket-friendly alternatives has become an opportunity for party promoters to host electronic music-themed, events. Though the frequency of EDM events is still limited to monthly and bi-monthly ticketed parties and festivals, the community is growing because it gives the underserved budget clubbers an experience of what a good Lagos night should actually be: a progressive safe space to enjoy good music with friends without having to break the bank. Element House is a monthly house music party often hosted in Lagos by Spektrum Live and attracts DJs from around the world. Similar events are hosted by  independent promoters are Sweat It Out Lagos, EkoLectro, House On The Reef and more.

Alt-Nightlife Lagos

Elaborate Escape Rooms, game nights, arcades, silent parties, play-listing parties and themed-private dining, are only a few of the new innovative alt-nightlife activities that have grown in popularity around Lagos since the end of the pandemic. 

Bature, an outdoor craft beer spot set in Victoria Island, for example, offers a touch of indigenousness and authenticity on its drink menu. Beezus Kitchen, a catering company based in Ikoyi also hosts a monthly ticketed 8-course private-dining event called K-BBQ Night, which — as the name implies — is a Korean-themed dinner menu for a select number of guests. Last year, Wafflesncrm, a Lagos-based skate brand celebrated its 10th anniversary with a skate-themed concert, featuring indoor ramp skating side-by-side music performances and DJ sets. The goal for many of these themed spots and events is to give nightlifers unique experiences that cannot be easily replicated.

A lot of Nigerians unwind by partying

The way Nigerians let their hair down is changing with younger generations and the advent of social media. While it’s largely still confined to red light district subculture, the adult entertainment industry is growing in popularity and becoming a subject of fascination, among working class urban men and women alike. Over the years there’s been more open curiosity and less stigma around experimentation with drugs, too. Nigerians are quite laid back people, generally speaking – but nowhere parties like Lagos!

To delve into more city life read City Limits, our series of pieces exploring the urban experience here.

The Un-dependents Launch

Mums, dads, children, parents: we hear about them often – but what about the consciously child-free? Our new report celebrates those who have chosen to never have kids. Let us introduce the Un-dependents…

We are living in a time when more people are making the choice to not have children and the circumstances around this decision touches upon the unique stressors of today. A 2022 Ipsos poll found the top reasons why people across 30 different countries opted to not have a child: financial concerns (21%), career prospects (15%) and concerns due to the Covid pandemic (11%).

Meanwhile, brands aren’t talking to the consciously child-free, or connecting with their culture. They aren’t being discussed enough. In our new The Un-dependents report, we celebrate the unique opportunities of living as an adult without children.

From Chapter two: Meet the Un-dependents
From Chapter two: Meet the Un-dependents

The full report features: 

– The context that the Un-dependents are living in now, and the perspective-shifting events of the pandemic, recession and climate crisis. 

– Interviews with men and women in the US, UK and Europe about the realities of choosing to not have kids.

– How to think differently about the Un-dependents values and motivations; followed by some examples of strategies to speak to them. 

The Un-dependents: A report celebrating consciously child-free lives
The Un-dependents: A report celebrating consciously child-free lives

This report was special for us every time our interviewees shared their joy and reminded us of all the different ways to live a happy, fulfilled life. We hope you enjoy The Un-dependents as much as we did.

Download the full Un-dependents report here.

Crowd Shortcuts – a quick chat about something that’s caught our attention. This week, we're asking when did being ‘basic’ become something to shout about?

What’s all this then? Being ‘basic’ is shedding its shameful connotations and turning into something to be celebrated. In other words: lame is the name of 2023’s game

Catchy! But isn’t being ‘basic’ an insult? Well, it simply means enjoying things that are mainstream. It’s shorthand for an individual’s inability to tap into nicher, unconventional and eclectic themes that are considered more interesting. What we’re seeing now is people owning their ‘basic’ preferences. Enjoying cringy, mainstream things is their thing, and they’re not afraid to shout about it.  

That’s nice. Why do you think that is? After so much of the 2020s being about the development of niche aesthetics and an urgency to stand out, people are more or less ready to fit in. The pressure to be unique is giving way to the joy of collective appreciation. 

Phew, sounds like a lot less effort. Where can I see this in action? If you’ve been on any social platforms recently, you’ll have seen the ticket craze surrounding Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. Videos of hysterical fans went viral as they displayed intense reactions to getting (or not getting) absurdly expensive concert tickets to a very popular, very mainstream artist. Their public outpourings had zero shame. 

Those Swifties! Where else is ‘basicness’ shining through? Pinterest’s 2023 trend report predicts ‘romcom core’ – people shamelessly dressing up as their favourite early Y2K romcom characters – as the aesthetic to watch (surprise, surprise: romcoms represent a more mainstream side of entertainment). In a similar light, recent hit shows like The White Lotus have people hunting on Google for the theoretical price of a White Lotus hotel stay, or step-by-step makeup tips from Jennifer Coolidge. 

Halloween 2023 is gonna be a big one. All this chat is making me hungry… bingo! Brunches are back. The more ‘basic’ the better (bottomless, anyone?). And, while it would’ve been semi-ghastly to post a food pic in the past, shameless basicness encourages those “no-one-eats-until-I-get-the-insta-worthy-shot” moments.

So does all this mean I can enjoy my pumpkin spice latte in public? Yes! When the time comes, enjoy your seasonal drink with zero hesitation. You may run into long lines of other like-minded pumpkin spice lovers, but there’s no time like the present to partake in the lamestream.

TL;DR: People are shunning social media’s ever-fracturing aesthetics in favour of simpler, mainstream joys. Take those UGGs out of storage and wear them without fear of public humiliation – you will be the trendiest person everywhere you go.

Captions As Content

We spoke to the Crowd team about how captions connect people, develop global citizenship, and have a big impact in just 50 characters...

Twitter has demanded we distil our thoughts down to 280 characters. But the real mastery of language these days is being shown on captions. The caption – ideally 1-50 characters – may be taxingly short, but once mastered, it is a content device with multiple compelling uses and opportunities. 

In a time when the caption plays such a big role in streaming, social media and gaming, a text version of short dialog or sound effects is very important. Of course, it makes popular content more accessible for the deaf or hard of hearing. But it is also influencing culture on a global scale. The care and diligence the subtitler takes on streaming TV content for all the various languages, for example, can make all the difference to authenticity for the audience.

We’re also seeing how captions are changing behaviour: teenagers prefer to watch their shows with subtitles on (four out of five viewers aged 18-25 use subtitles all or part of the time, Stagetext, 2021), while it’s captions-as-convo on gaming platforms like Roblox. But what are the challenges and rewards of using captions in content?

Getting translations right could give global content platforms a competitive edge. Crowd DNA’s Jennifer Simon (associate director, semiotics), describes captions as “a powerful tool of communication” but warns: “Captions are often overlooked.”

She says: “Unsurprisingly, they are often seen as neutral labels – but they are anything but. They communicate a host of hidden, culturally specific meanings.”

For example, when Korean drama Squid Game was released, native Korean speakers pointed out that both the English dubs and subtitles for Squid Game were inaccurate – and communicated different cultural meanings. “As we can see here, the meanings of captions depend heavily on our cultural context – ultimately influencing how we interpret and understand the intended message.” 

Meanwhile, we rely more and more on captions to perform our own lives – and comprehend others. Reading captions helps us with a basic need of our time: it aids multi-screen use.

Rachel Rapp (director, futures), says: “Captions are playing a huge role in our multi-screen lives.”

She explains: “Captions are everywhere and now allow us to watch a reel at the same time as a TV series. A meme we’re enjoying is usually summarised in the text overlayed so that our short attention spans can grasp the joke fast – without distracting us from our work, or the episode we’re stuck into. We caption every picture we post.”

Captions also allow us to embrace our growing global citizenship. Now that captions are on so much of our media, reading them is no longer seen as hard work. This influences the success of international dramas as we’ve seen with Squid Game (Korean) or Money Heist (Spanish). And this exposure to international content helps our growing global citizenship.

And finally, it’s also another tool in the kit for the creator community. Chloe Swayne (senior designer, Socialise) says: “The ways in which we see captions being used both as a visual aid and a visual device are evolving – most rapidly within social media. Essentially handing captioning control over to the creator has enabled us to create a whole new visual language – on how words and pictures ought to interact.”

For brands and content producers there’s a lot to think about when it comes to captions. But let’s end this short-ish conversation acknowledging that the art of keeping things neat and to the point has always been a sweet spot in content. And with captions – and mastery of 1-50 characters – that’s now more than ever.  


Crowd Shortcuts – a quick chat about something that’s caught our attention. This week, we're getting our teeth into cannibalism in culture and campaigns

What’s all this then? Last year was a cultural smorgasbord in cannibalism with films, TV shows and books having an appetite for flesh. British Vogue even crowned cannibalism: “The Defining Cultural Trope of 2022”. 

Hungry for more? Well, yes. Now cannibalism has been culturally accepted, the ad industry has begun to build it into campaigns. One particular success is using it to help sell fake meat products. 

Huh? Yes, so cannibalism is winning awards. 

Tell us all the gory details… Plant-based meat maker Oumph! won a silver prize at 2022 Cannes Lions Festival for its ad teasing a “human meat burger”. (No humans had actually been harmed). 

Meanwhile, Liquid Death ran a special Halloween promotion for their Vegan Cannibal Steakhouse delivery service featuring New Yorkerless Strip Steak, Guiltless Grilled Rack of Sam, and Manless Meatballs in Marinara.

As LOLA MullenLowe, the agency behind the Oumph! campaign explained, it was a way to convince meat-lovers that plant-based products could replicate the taste of any meat – even human.

We hear cannibalism is also helping save the planet? Very much so.

Bit of a stretch? No, the ‘Eat a Swede’ satire presented eating human meat as an option should we fail to act on the impact of the climate crisis on food supply. The Swedish Food Federation campaign won a Grand Prix at the Cannes Lion Festival.  Meanwhile, the “Ouroboros Steak” exhibit at London’s Design Museum imagined growing meat using our own cells and donated blood to also highlight the plight of the food industry…

Just to be clear then: Cannibalism no longer has us clutching our pearls? Yes, the cannibalism trope has been warmly embraced. 

TL;DR: Nihilsm rocks 2023. Or as put by Chelsea G Summers, the writer of A Certain Hunger about a female cannibalistic serial killer: “Cannibalism is the need to nourish yourself in a depriving, neglectful world.”

Cultural strategy executive Jasmine Lo reflects on her time spent during Crowd's Culture Club internship programme…

The start of a new year is always a good time to process experiences and jot down any learnings for the year ahead. Last summer, I joined Crowd’s Culture Club programme as a cultural strategy intern. The experience was a whirlwind in the best way possible. With time to reflect on it since becoming a permanent member of the team, I thought I’d write a bit of a note to self and share some things I’ve taken with me from the journey. 

1. Trust in the process of figuring it out

It is rarely a straight line to landing the right role and company. It certainly took me a while before I found Crowd. I don’t think I’ve ever completed an internship that felt as fulfilling as Culture Club. Being thrown straight in as a newbie is terrifying, but it’s the most effective way to learn, and Crowd has you shape-shifting and figuring it out from the get go.

2. There are so many ways in

It is always eye-opening to learn all the ways folks at Crowd made their way to the company. A non-linear career of funky job pivots or travelling across countries through the years is something we are united by. With such an array of experiences across industries and cultures, it’s no wonder Crowd does things a little differently. 

3. Confusion became my best pal, so, I will let it ground me

I have never been so pleased to have no idea what was going on than here at Crowd. Culture Club armed me with the openness to keep asking myself and others questions along the way. Every day was (and still is) totally different and it forces you to ask questions. Before joining Crowd, I had rarely seen research done with such creativity and empathy. The process itself is a source of endless inspiration.

4. Solidarity and support come in so many forms at Crowd

Who knows where little conversations here and there can lead to. One of the best pieces of advice I got when I first joined was: “it’s not about doing the most in order to prove yourself – that’s not what we’re about at Crowd – it’s about tuning in and being really present and talking to others”. As a newbie, that was invaluable to me. There is always someone at Crowd I feel able to reach out to and that’s really special and important to hold onto.

5. My cross-cultural chaos matters

This is cultural strategy after all. The more cultural nuance the better. I need to trust in the things I do know because they help me navigate a lot of what cultural strategy is. Our individual intuition to navigate conversations is everything. 

I’ve now joined the strategic insights team permanently, but I will always look back on my early months at Crowd with fondness. Culture Club is a prime example of what an internship should feel like – you should be able to walk away and into whatever role is next for you confident in the possibilities ahead. 

Curious about the Culture Club internship programme? Read all about it here.

Last in our debunking-the-metaverse series, we present five things you can actually get your head around…

1. The metaverse does not exist yet 

We hate to burst the bubble, but current metaverse activations grabbing the headlines are actually just online experiences that have been around for ages. The total convergence of physical and digital life just isn’t technologically possible yet. Read more in our first post here.

2. When people say metaverse they mean gaming + digitalisation and a bit of crypto

The term ‘metaverse’ has a lot to answer for. At the moment, it’s an attention-grabbing buzzword for the world’s impending web3 reality. However, when you actually unpick what people are talking about, it’s just gaming innovations and crypto experiments.   

3. Don’t fool yourself, a lot of current activations are just fads 

Digital burgers? Love Island’s virtual getaway? Need we say more. 

4. Real world shifts are a precursor for how the metaverse will develop 

The clues of the metaverse lie in genuine human needs. Currently, however, the discourse is dominated by over-commercialised fast culture that responds to the needs of a few. To predict the direction that the metaverse will take, we need to inspect slow culture – those slower moving societal shifts within areas like family and work. Read more in our post here

5. Listen to people, join cultural conversations, show genuine interest, grow along alongside them 

If the goal, as a brand or business, is to use the metaverse to interact with consumers, don’t just jump on the bandwagon (a stance explored more in our post here). To become truly relevant to audiences, it’s vital we listen to what they actually need and want from the endless possibilities of our metaverse future. 

This blog is based on our recent Crowd DNA Amsterdam webinar, which you can read here and watch in full here

Crowd Shortcuts: Teddy bears

Crowd Shortcuts – a quick chat about something that’s caught our attention at Crowd. This week, teddy bears for grown-ups

What’s all this then? On the top of a cupboard, carefully stored away – maybe gifted on to a child – but adults don’t usually display their teddy bears. Until lately, that is. We’ve seen it from music’s most stylish Drake showing that he “only love my bed and my momma (oh, and my teddy bear)…” and Harry Style’s collaboration with Gucci featuring pouting pink bears. Plus there’s the ubiquitous teddy coats on the high street, the spike in TikTok searches for cockapoo#teddy#bear, and Thom Browne showing his A/W 2022 collection in front of an audience of 500 stuffed bears. 

Surely it’s all harmless though? Yes, if it’s for the Lidl 2022 Christmas campaign. But it’s not without risk. As Balenciaga catastrophically found out, there’s a problem with adults co-opting toys: they had to pull their Christmas 2022 campaign featuring teddy bears trussed up in bondage attire being modelled by children.

Ah. Let’s stay with bondage for a moment? No.

But is the teddy bear craze about security? Yes, of course being wrapped in a full length fleece is cosy. As is cuddling up to a soft toy or softy tufty doggy. And sitting next to a childhood toy rather than Anna Wintour on the front row is probably preferable if you are of a nervous disposition. But to be serious for a moment, it’s no surprise that the teddy bear is one of the items the Red Cross pack in their disaster kit.

So why are adult toys so popular now? As an item that can take us back to our childhood, evoking those secure memories, the teddy bear is standalone in its power. Adults are seeking out this comforter as part of a wider trend shift to calmness and serenity – as we also see in 2023 colour of the year, Digital Lavender. A teddy bear is a transitional object needed at a time when the Emoji of 2022 is the face holding back tears and the Collins Dictionary named ‘Permacrisis’ as Word of the Year 2022.

OK, now I need my teddy… It’s fine, go for it. And remember that cockapoos are hypo-allergenic, so that’s another bonus.

TL;DR: There’s no shame in needing a cuddle whether as an adult or a child, and if that means reaching for a teddy bear, then at least now you can tell the haters that it’s a fashion statement.