Various Blue Chip companies in Nigeria, operating in diverse spheres such as Manufacturing, Telecoms, Banking, Consumer services are springing up with fresh concepts that would put them ahead of their rivals. The post Independent epoch (1960 till date) has witnessed the continuous influx of companies both local and International into the marketing arena, eager to compete in the Nigerian open market Championship. An annual event held to determine which companies products/services thrived the most in the Nigerian Market. Their performances were rated by the profits posted during the Companies Annual General Meetings. A few who started the race at its inception are still in contention for the golden prize, while their counterparts have fallen along the way side.
The competition to dominate the Nigerian market has grown tougher with each passing year, and companies have deployed various marketing strategies “in and out of the box” in a bid to steal the market. For example the regular use of promos by companies luring customers to purchase their products and ultimately wining whooping monetary rewards and an array of consolation prizes, game shows/lottery, where juicy monetary packages are up for grabs by customers who participate and obey stipulated instructions have become rampant. These ‘over flogged marketing strategies’, have propelled a few to look towards the direction of the celebrities (especially those in the Entertainment circuit) to invoke a Sales- Reload needed to thrust them far ahead of their competitors.
In the eyes of the public, celebrities are seen as a rare unique breed of Homosapiens who move about with an aura of greatness, and possess the golden touch capable of transforming the ordinary into extra-ordinary within a splitting second in their respective chosen career. They possess the power to keep ones eyes riveted on them, igniting the star struck syndrome on their fans. They easily stir up excitement in the crowd with some cringing their necks much to the nerves discomfort, in a bid to catch a glimpse of them. This phenomenon is best described during live concerts performed by popular artistes when the crowd goes into a frenzy, with the babes of course screaming their names(if they are guys) and shouting “I Love You X”, amazingly shedding tears, and sometimes passing out or nearly passing out at the slightest physical contact with the stars or otherwise.
The posters of these great men and women who wield the financial wands in their hands are kissed and talked to by their fans who have them hung in a corner of their rooms, and dream endlessly about how good they could have been together, profess their undying love for them, adoring, idolizing them, thereby provoking the good Lord to jealousy. Celebrities by reason of their popularity naturally possess the power to influence consumers to swap loyalty to the endorsed brands, and make such adverts to linger continually in their memory data banks. On a wider pedestal, celebrities such as James Earl Jones endorsed “CNN”, Catherine Nigerian Music Zeta- Jones “Elizabeth Arden”, and Pepsi has continually made use of International top rated footballers and artistes to promote its brand.
In Nigeria, the concept of using celebrities to promote various brands was at its lowest ebb prior to 2007. Advertising companies on the pay roll of rival companies delightfully used “Unknown faces” to try and lure potential customers into purchasing the products being projected or to maintain customers loyalty or initiate a cross carpeting to the use of the displayed products, through the Electronic media(dominantly TV).
4 REASONS WHY CELEBRITIES WERE HARDLY USED TO PROMOTE BRANDS BACK IN THE DAYS
1. IGNORANCE: Most Advertising practitioners were not conversant with the concept of using celebrities to promote the brands. They were hired to simply advertise, showcase the products of their clients to viewers, which they did. They were not deeply involved in any marketing strategy to out do brands from rival companies.
2. INDIFFERENCE: A few were rather indifferent, adopted a lackadaisical approach to the concept, since they believed that the use of celebrities had no effect on the quality output of the adverts produced, so why bother using them?
3. UNWILLINGNESS TO SPEND: Most Clients were unwilling to pay the fees required to engage the services of the celebrities to promote the brands in the advert (which was not as expensive when compared with what obtains today). Only a few consented to the soliciting and eventual use of celebrities such as the now defunct Universal Trust Bank (UTB advert: Chief Zebrudaya and Jegede of the New masquerade TV series fame), Visine eye drops (Regina Askia), Morning fresh (Bimbo Oloyede), Panadol ( Ovuleria, Akpena in the TV series of the New masquerade), New Elephant Blue detergent (Chief Zebrudaya, Samanja)
4. LOW COMPETITON: A handful of companies with rivals producing brands in the same sector existed. In the 80’s we basically had two known rival brands of products drawn from different spheres for eg Detergents “Omo and Elephant Blue”, Soaps “Lux and “Cussons Imperial leather”, Soft drinks “Coke and Pepsi”, Cars “Peugeot and Volkswagen”. On the other hand a few companies produced brands that went unchallenged such as Okin biscuits, Peak Milk, Maltina, Robb, Thermocool fridge/freezers.
The game has now changed with Companies eagerly parting with cash to ensure that celebrities are effectively used to promote their brands via the electronic media (still dominantly TV) based on its large viewership base, and in some cases the Print media is also used.