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what's in a name

WHAT’S IN A NAME Contest… Earn $300 for your great idea…

Frankly, everything

As part of its population development program, CIP in West Africa has been focused on developing sweetpotato varieties with little to no sugar.  It goes without saying that consumers associated sweetpotato as a product that is sugary.  In many countries, this is the reason cited by men saying that this is why sweetpotato is preferred by children and women.  There are several myths also floating around about sweetpotato contributing to diabetes because of its sugar content.

In the sweetpotato community of practice (CoP), we know that sweetpotato is being used in many parts of the world not only as a steamed or boiled root, but as an essential ingredient in baked products, fried product, juices, candies and starch.  We feel that the production of a low sugar sweetpotato will open up a whole new range of use of the sweetpotato root.  First, most staple foods do not have discernible sugar in their taste.  Crops like rice and Solanum potato are consumed with other foods or sauces that provide most of the flavor in the meal.   Second, many middle to upper-class urban consumers are specifically trying to reduce the consumption of foods with sugar in them.  This is a growing market to which a low sugar sweetpotato could be targeted.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI) in Ghana in collaboration with CIP plan to release low sugar varieties later this year.  Such varieties, having both white- or orange-flesh, are really a new type of sweetpotato.  Calling this type low sugar sweetpotato is a mouthful.  We want to search for one or two words (maximum) that will become the name of this new type of Ipomoea batatas (the Latin name for sweetpotato).   This word can be an existing word or a new word you create that captures the essence of the new type.

Obviously, a marketing campaign to introduce this new sweetpotato type into the market needs also to have a slogan or key message to capture the main features of this new food product.  Hence, the contest will require the new type to be submitted with a new slogan not exceeding 160 letters in total.  For example, in Mozambique our slogan for orange-fleshed sweetpotato was the sweet that gives health (in Portuguese).  

There is a well-known book by marketers entitled “Made to Stick”.  It says to have a message that will stick, it needs to be “interesting enough for people to notice it, understand it, care about it, remember it, and act upon it”.  They say that effective messages are:

1) Simple.  What is the one key message you want the audience to retain?

2) Unexpected.  Surprise… something unexpected generates initial interest

3) Concrete.  People should be able to understand what actions they should take.

4) Credible.  People must believe the message in order to act on it.

5) Emotions.  When people care, they are more likely to do.  Appeal to the things that really matter to the audience.

6) Story.  Success stories in certain settings often are a good way to motivate others.


Not every message needs to include all six elements, but the evaluators will not which of these elements are present in the presented message.


So get your creative juices moving and by 11th August 2017 (midnight Nairobi time) submit by email to Christine Bukania ( the following:

1) Your proposed one-word Type for the low sugar sweetpotato varieties

2) Your message.  Specify whether English, French, or Portuguese users are the main audience for your message.

3) A description, not exceeding 750 words explaining why you think your message will work to attract both urban and rural consumers in sub-Saharan Africa.

4) The lead contributor and list of members of the team submitting the application.  


Please save as a Word file with the name:

NAMING_CONTEST_Last_Name of Lead Contributor_2017_Month (two-digits)_day submitted (two digits)


The top four to five candidates will be pretested in Ghana during the second half of August and the winner of the contest announced at the annual Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative meeting in Dar es Salaam, the week of September 24th.

The contest is open to anyone!

Good thinking!

About Christine Bukania

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