Rooted in collaboration, Russian Bear, one of South Africa’s favourite vodka drinks, invited untapped creatives across music, art and fashion to take their talent to the next level. The popular brand firmly believes in the power of collaboration, launched the Ultimate Collab Competition to offer South Africans a chance to showcase their talent and win some incredible prizes. This includes collaborating with SAMA award-winning duo Blaq Diamond and the first lady of SA Hip Hop Nadia Nakai. These artists were recently announced as Russian Bear’s official celebrity brand ambassadors.
“Collaboration is in Russian Bear’s DNA,” says Luwanda Mxhosana, Brand Manager for Russian Bear at Edward Snell. “We are rooted in the belief that collaboration is key to levelling up in the urban cultural landscape. Through this exciting competition, Russian Bear provides up-and-coming creatives with a platform to help them receive the recognition and representation they deserve among the urban society.”
The five lucky winners were recently announced and are all incredibly excited and grateful for the opportunity to take their brands and careers to the #NextLevel with Russian Bear.
Dreams do come true
Ethnix, the award-winning musical duo from Namibia and one of the five winners, says a hunger for exposure and more experience motivated them to enter the Ultimate Collaboration Competition. “Being affiliated to an incredible brand like Russian Bear is something people from our background can only dream of. What’s more, collaborating with Blaq Diamond, musicians we really respect and whose work and success is truly inspiring, is an incredible honour.”
“This collaboration is the biggest thing to ever happen in our music career. It serves as an example to disadvantaged youth that dreams do come true with hard work, resilience and the right attitude. Social responsibility should be more prevalent among big brands, and Russian Bear is leading the way.”
Winner Asah M is a passionate, ethereal singer and songwriter who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate and produce a track with Nadia Nakai. Through music, Asah M hopes to bring healing, love and self-empowerment to people seeking to be their truest selves. “Music connects our world,” says Asah M. “Music allows us to create awareness, heal souls, have fun and spread love. Words cannot express my joy at winning, as this showed me that my dreams are valid and achievable and that you should never give up.”
When worlds meet
Snalo Ngcaba, a socially conscious artist and illustrator, says her motivation to enter was the ability to work with new people and create something completely unique and fresh. “Winning this competition provides me with an opportunity to get a perspective of how other artists think, what inspires them, and their learnings over the years. We don’t come from the same background or do the same work. Collaboration is a way to immerse yourself in someone else’s creative process completely. There is no better way to expand your mind than by immersing yourself into a new creative experience and creating something new with them.”
Winner in the art category, Rebel Rabbit, says her brand represents the misfits within the community. “I’m inspired by mischief makers looking to defy the status quo. As big as Russian Bear is, I really admire how it reaches out to the streets and gives the regular Joe an opportunity and platform to be seen and heard.”
Rebel Rabbit also believes in the power of collaboration. “It brings people from different backgrounds, with different ideologies together to create something new that wouldn’t be created if they were working in silos. Collaboration really helps people learn from each other.”
Fashion category winner Lenneth Bowers shares this sentiment. “I entered the competition based on my desire to collaborate and create platforms for artists to be celebrated and inspired. To me, collaboration is when two worlds meet. It goes beyond just working together. It is amazing what can be achieved when ideas merge, and inquiring and creative minds come together.”
Sharing the spotlight
Brand ambassadors Blaq Diamond and Nadia Nakai share enthusiasm for this exciting collaboration with Russian Bear.
“We’re excited about a number of things that encompass the Ultimate Collab Competition, including working with the winning artists. We feel this collaboration captures the essence that is Blaq Diamond and what we stand for, which is the inclusion of our fans in all that we do. It also gives us the opportunity to meet and work with some of the country’s most talented and innovative up-and-comers. Collaboration is all about learning from each other, which is an incredibly exciting and valuable prospect,” says Ndumiso Mdletshe, one half of the Afro-pop duo.
“I’m really proud to be associated with a brand such as Russian Bear, who is committed to amplifying and giving much-needed exposure to up-and-coming creatives. Working with fresh talents in Africa is an incredible opportunity, and I’m excited to merge ideas, inspire, create and make magic happen,” added Nadia.