Nigerian companies are increasingly leveraging the entertainment industry to cast their goods and services in better light and this has opened up a N500 million market for music artistes, actors and sportsmen.
The fledgling ‘Brand Ambassadors’ market, BusinessDay investigations indicate, may grow to over a billion naira at the end of the year, following expected new brand associations with players of the Super Eagles,who recently won the African Cup of Nations in South Africa.
A good number of Nigerian brands, especially in the telecommunications and banking sectors, are now associating with creative personages in music and acting, as well as sports, to further their brand reach to targeted audiences. The trend which started a little over five years ago, has gained more relevance as a result of increasing exposure to television and major sporting events in the world. The popularity of the Nollywood industry is also giving fillip to brand ambassadorship.
Top celebrities in the Nigerian creative industry have in the last five years found this growing business a new way of making earnings. Acts like Psquare, D’banj, Davido and Wizkid have variously been endorsed by companies as brand ambassadors. A brand ambassador is a celebrity employed by a company to promote its products or services.
The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate image of the company in appearance, demeanour, values and ethics. At the most basic level, he has the sole responsibility to represent the company in positive light and express the message of the company in a way that consumers can gain further understanding of the company. It is quite different from modelling which has been at the root of advertising. However, a celebrity who promotes the services of a company and is not paid for doing so is referred to as brand advocate.
It all began when companies like the telecommunication giant Globacom started appointing well-known names in the music industry and Nollywood as its brand ambassadors.
For 2012 alone the following brand ambassadors were signed on: Wizkid and Tiwa Savage (Pepsi), Don Jazzy (Loya), Hafeez Oyetoro-Saka (Etisalat), Davido, Nkem Owo, Patience Ozokwor and Joseph Benjamin (MTN), Ini Edo, Omotola Jolade Ekeinde and Segun Arinze (Hollandia), Genevieve Nnaji(Range Rover Sport), Banky W and Kate Henshaw (Samsung), and Psquare, Van Vicker, Basket Mouth (Glo) amongst others. FirstBank also signed on Blessing Okagbare as its brand ambassador during the London Olympics.
Psquare and D’banj were the highest paid in 2012 with Psquare signing a four year deal worth N240 million. Other Glo ambassadors like Van Vicker, Basket Mouth, Ego of the Lagbaja fame amongst others got between N10 and N50 million.
For a live performance, Psquare charges N15 million. They are the most highly prized in the music industry and this explains why they don’t get as many shows as their counterparts like 2face, Dbanj, Davido and Wizkid. With an average of 50 shows in a year, P-square makes N750, 000, 000, annually. The N240 million Glo deal, media experts say, is an extra income as they don’t have to go through the rigour of energetic performance to make such money. The N240 million deal means they made in a month what they would have made in a year and a half.
In addition to Psquare, D’banj is another artiste highly favoured by brands. Reports say he is top on the Glo brand ambassadors list, earning as much as Psquare. 2face also signed a deal with Guinness, worth several millions of Naira some years ago. Today, he is the new face of Airtel, a deal valued at several millions too.
Recently, Samsung announced Banky W and Nollywood actress, Kate Henshaw-Nuttal as its brand ambassadors. Banky W signed a one year deal worth N100 million. Banky W charges between N2 million and N5 million per show, with an average of 70 shows a year. He makes an additional N350, 000, 000.
The issue of celebrity endorsements as a platform for driving sales by companies is still evolving. Industry experts say the maturation levels are still very much in the lower stages. According to them, some companies and organisations have not tried to achieve a strategic fit between their brands and the chosen ambassadors. The observable trend is that companies simply select a known face and name to endorse their brand, without considering if such personalities fit what their brand stands for. It is may be difficult to strike the necessary state of equilibrium required for the optimal brand equity benefits.
Ayeni Adekunle CEO, Blackhouse Media says brands are exploiting celebrities’ images and likeness for sales driven promos. ‘The celebrities are endorsing, explains Ayeni, ‘and subtly influencing their followers and fans to adopt brands’ products.’
The benefits of brand endorsement to the artistes is huge, as they get paid handsomely, depending on their negotiating power adds Adekunle. ‘It also exposes them to other business opportunities with those brands. It helps them discover their other potentials and self worth.’
Also this year, Nollywood actor, Jim Iyke was appointed the brand face for Virgin Atlantic airline. The deal which was signed in Ghana some weeks ago, is worth N23 million. ‘To Gatwick to shoot the Virgin Atlantic commercial. Excited Beyond words, Oshe Baba! Grateful!’ lyke tweeted about his booty a week ago.
N23 million will go a long way to augment the glamorous lifestyle that Nollywood stars like Iyke are exposed to in an industry where the glamour overshadows their take home pay. Nollywood is not as well paying as America’s Hollywood. Yet the industry’s glamour gives a larger than life picture of the real financial worth of these celebrities. The current market value of Iyke is put between N750, 000 and N1 million for him to star in a film. With an average appearance in about 20 films a year, Iyke makes N20, 000, 000 annually.
Victor Okhai, a film maker, says the idea of brand ambassadorship is good for Nollywood because the alternative will be for them to do celebrity appearances, like what Kim Kardashian did when she visited Nigeria recently, which is not the best for an established industry like Nollywood.
‘I like what the local industries are doing,’ he adds. ‘They are contributing to the growth and development of Nollywood, which is better than using foreign actors and actresses. Do you know that some presidents outside Nigeria invite Nollywood actors to join them on the campaign trail? It is an industry well recognised outside the shores of this country.
The actors cannot be blamed if the company does not get the desired value from the contract. That should be the job of the brand manager who then decides what his organisation stands to benefits from such ambassadorship deals.’