Brandshow with Wale Alabi – Curse of celebrity endorsements

When you are using brand ambassadors you are dealing with a human being who has faults and failings… Brands should research the individuals as much as they can, but there are certain things that just can’t be predicted. – Chris Gilmour

Every year, leading producers of consumer goods and services splash millions of dollars on celebrities who endorse their products. In Europe and the United States of America, brand custodians have been utilizing celebrity endorsements as a veritable marketing tool for decades.

This globally acclaimed marketing platform is fast gaining currency in Nigeria. More than anything else, the advent of GSM in Nigeria has underscored the importance of celebrity endorsements as a marketing weapon. Competing telecom brands signed on different showbiz and sports stars as brand ambassadors. And since most of these stars are greatly adored by their legion of fans, their positive image rubs off on the brands they endorse. While the telcos leverage on their positive attributes to drive competition, the celebrities too smile to the banks.

Apart from telcos, currently in Nigeria, dozens of showbiz stars, sports celebrities and authors are serving as ambassadors to an assortment of brands. When a celebrity endorses a product, it is a win-win situation for brand custodians. In attesting to the efficacy of celebrity endorsements, Matthew Patten erstwhile CEO at M&C Saatchi Sponsorship said: “If you look at sports and entertainment, coverage used to be about the sports, or the entertainment. Now it’s all about the personalities, which makes endorsement all the more effective.”

But then, in spite of its manifold benefits, brand savvy marketing experts contend that celebrity endorsement has its own drawback (curse). And the ‘curse’ is ingrained in the celebrity himself. Since the celebrity is human, he is not infallible. So a celebrity could fall from grace to grass. A celebrity may also be leading a secret life that could harm the brand he endorses. It was the curse of celebrity endorsement that triggered the downfall of Tiger Woods, Mike Tyson, Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius. It is this same curse that is currently afflicting hip-hop diva, Tiwa Savage and twin songsters, Paul and Peter of the P-Square group. The salacious tales emanating from Tiwa Savage and her husband, Tunji Balogun a.k.a Tee Billz will neither promote her career nor add value to the brands she endorses. Tiwa whose series of hit songs are thrilling to her fans is ambassador to the telco brand, MTN, Pampers, Forte Oil and Pepsi amongst others. And as for P-Square, the incessant squabbles by the duo would not only erode their brand equity as role models and brand ambassadors but will also impact negatively on their career. So, of what value is a star or celebrity who is in crisis to a consumer good producer or service provider?

Wikipedia defines a brand ambassador “ as a person hired by an organization or company to represent a brand in a positive light and by doing so help to increase brand awareness and sales. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanour, values and ethics.” How many brand ambassadors encapsulate this definition amongst the league of showbiz and sports stars who are ambassadors in Nigeria? Not too long ago Kate Henshaw left her hubby following a divorce, yet she is an ambassador to some family brands. Popular rapper, Olamide almost distrupted the Headies last December by smashing the microphone on the floor, yet Olamide remains an ambassador to brands including Guinness and Etisalat. Genevieve Nnaji who endorses Amstel Malta almost destroyed Amstel Malta through her uncomplimentary remarks on the malt drink at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards which was sponsored by Amstel Malta and broadcast live across Africa. But Genevieve was contracted to promote Amstel Malta. Hip-hop star Davido threw caution to the wind recently in his hoopla with his ‘baby mama’ insulting elders who are of his father’s age. Yet Davido is supposed to be a good ambassador to some brands.

In Nigeria, brand managers have turned the rules of celebrity endorsements upside down. They have corrupted and bastardized the usage of the words brand ambassador. May be, very soon, my dog, Bingo will also get a mouth watering offer as a celebrity to endorse a brand and become an ambassador.

Tony Agenmonmen: Retired but not tired  

Although, he has retired from the service of the brewery giant, Nigerian Beweries Plc, Tony Agenmonmen a.k.aOga Tony is not tired. The marketing czar who until his retirement was for several years the oracle at the Iganmu House when it comes to beer lager sales and marketing has found a new career: writing.

In his days at NBplc, Tony fought many Titanic battles to put ‘Shine,Shine Bobo’ (Star) in the front burner as a market leader in the beer category. For 32 years, Tony knew no other life other than beer sales and marketing. Apart from Star, when he became the Senior Marketing Manager in charge of all lager brands and stout, Tony working with a strong team of brand managers waged and won marketing wars against competition popularizing brands like Gulder, Heinekens and Legend Extra Stout.

His exploits in the past three decades were documented in a new book unveiled at his send forth party which was held at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos recently. In the book, entitled: Excellence Is Not By Luck, Oga Tony showcased his writing talent.

Well written in free flowing prose and spiced with anecdotes and humour, Excellence Is Not By Luck is a tell-it-all memoir by Tony as a marketing cabal in Nigerian Breweries. From his days as a brand cum marketing manager for Star to his rise as the overall head of marketing responsible for all alcoholic beverages at NBplc.

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