Sam Owori: Using marketing moments to promote Rotary in Africa

Marketing moments have been used effectively to sell products and ideas for years and Google has joined the fray with their micro moments approach to advertising. The concept borrows heavily from storytelling and it uses down to earth human experiences to paint a positive picture for your audience.

In 2013 Jennifer Jones, a past vice president of Rotary International, introduced Rotary Moments, an initiative to encourage members around the world to tell their story in a way that would spur action. In it we were to talk about our personal transformation from simply being a statistic in the club’s roll of members, to being a true force for good.

The most compelling Rotary Moment I heard was from a dear friend to us all, Sam Owori, who has just departed from this world and has secured his heavenly abode. His Rotary Moment gave us a clue into his powerful character, a life filled with meaning and an ability to change the world.

He told the story of a baby girl in a Karamjong nomadic camp who’s entire face had been chewed off by a stray hyena and how his Rotary club arranged for multiple surgeries in Australia. She not only survived but eventually qualified as a registered nurse working in the same hospital that treated her.

The success of this project changed Sam; from just being a member of a Rotary club to being a true Rotarian at heart, someone who is able to work with like minded people and bring their skills to the table so that they can serve humanity and promote international goodwill and peace.

Thus, in his Rotary career he grew the number of clubs in Uganda in the aftermath of the Idi Amin administration, from 16 clubs to 89 clubs and he rose to the position of District Governor, Rotary International Director and Rotary Foundation Trustee. He finally reached the pinnacle of the organization when he was elected to serve as the Rotary International President in 2018-19.

I initially interacted with Sam when he was Rotary International Director in my first year in the Public Image Resource Group that was charged to improve the public perception of the humanitarian club. It was during this time that the Board of Directors approved a new branding initiative.

The work we did focused on growing the membership in Africa in order to get more hands on deck and to attract more money for our charity work. It required us to position our brand especially among the youth, because our future is determined by our ability to attract and retain younger members of society.

We did manage to demystify the organization among many target groups in Africa, but the ultimate reward was when he was elected to serve as International President, only the second person from Africa to be chosen as such. This act alone served to inspire our continent and remind us that Rotary is for everyone who has the ideal of service in their hearts, and the connection with our African cultures that are truly service oriented.

We will miss Sam a great deal, but the work that he dedicated his life to will surely live on.



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