Lagos State Deputy Governor, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire
Raheem Akingbolu writes on the ‘Go Lagos, Ignite the Spirit of Friendship’ theme, recently unveiled for the coming 18th National Sports Festival
Sports as Positioning Tool
Among many uses, sports has for a long time remained a defining factor in marketing. Its advantage over other tools lies in its power to unite people of varied backgrounds and beliefs.
As a result of this, brand owners and stakeholders in the society often use various sporting activities to attract patrons for their brands and cities. Today, it is easy for analysts to conclude that brands like Coca-Cola, Visa, Heineken made global appeal, because of their attachment to global sporting activities.
In the same way, countries like Brazil, Argentina and even Cameroon became popular on the international scene as a result of their sporting prowess.
Recently, the Permanent Head of Mission of Brazil to the UN, Mr. Joao Qunitaes, reflected on how sports is deeply rooted in the Brazilian culture as an opportunity to gain an improved position, helping people to get better access to health and education.
Again, Ms. Ann Cody of the International Paralympics Committee, has also remarked that sport, with its universal popularity and the physical, social and economic development, is a very strong tool for inclusion.
In Nigeria, Lagos State and First Bank are two brands that have consistently explored sport as a tool for positioning. Like other successful brands that have used sponsorship to consolidate on relationship with patrons, Firstbank has since November 2009, when it threw its weight behind the FIFA under 17 World Cup in Nigeria, bonded with the trend.
Ad, PR Agency for Eko 2012
Lagos State is again on the threshold of history as it kickstarts activities geared towards making its hosting of the 18th National Sports Festival (Eko 2012) the best sports festival ever to be held in Nigeria.
Expectations are high as Eko 2012 is probably the first National Sports Festival that would receive international recognition as the African Union, Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympics Committee have indicated their interest to witness the festival, scheduled to hold from November 27 to December 9, 2012.
For this reason, the organisers have introduced wide range innovations that will give the sports fiesta an international outlook and make it distinct from any past event.
To achieve this, the Marketing & Sponsorship Sub-committee of the LOC has also engaged the services of two top marketing communications firms, Chain Reactions Nigeria and Insight Communications Limited, as joint lead consultants to develop the overarching strategic communications plan for Eko 2012.
Expectedly, the Lagos State Government and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) have commenced a series of activities to raise awareness for the festival.
One of such activities was the media briefing held at the instance of the Marketing and Sponsorship Sub-committee recently and addressed by the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire. Part of the highpoints of the event was the subtle unveiling of the theme of the Eko 2012, which is 'Go Lagos, Ignite the Spirit of Friendship.'
The theme is a call to action itself, and also appealing and compelling. According to the Lagos State Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development, Mr. Enitan Oshodi, the target of the local organising committee is to make Lagosians and Nigerians see more than the games.
He said; “We want them to see the miracle of friendship. You can see that we are confidently expressing that intent on all our banners here today. One of our key messages during Eko 2012 is for people to see more than the games as they come to Lagos.
"We will be showcasing the best of our businesses and entertainment and this is quite significant as it goes beyond the realm of sports alone. So, for those planning to come to Lagos to see just a beehive of sporting activities, get ready to see more than the games,” he added.
Thrust of the Campaign
Beyond just a sports meet therefore, the unveiled strategic thrust of the campaign is one that has been uniquely laid on a tripodal pillar of experience namely sports, business and entertainment built around the central big idea, ‘Friendship’, and woven in an easy-to-recall single-minded proposition, 'Go Lagos, Ignite the Spirit of Friendship'.
The underpinning objective of the tripodal strategy is to ensure that something of interest connects with Nigerians at every touch point during the sports festival.
“In essence, whether you are a business-minded person, a lover of sports or an entertainment freak, this 18th edition of the National Sports Festival meets at least a need in you. So, the strategy our Joint Lead Consultants have helped us develop is that, whether you are a sports enthusiast or not, there is something for you in Eko 2012”, Oshodi further said.
He further disclosed that beginning from August, Lagos would be agog with heavy publicity blast to sensitise the residents and engender ownership of the sports festival. He said before now, publicity had been deliberately lowered to avoid messaging fatigue as a result of the just-concluded London Olympics.
This strategic path no doubt offers bigger leverage opportunities for brand owners to connect with their consumers than in a campaign targeted at sports lovers only.
The whole idea is that a sporting event in a place like Lagos must be aligned to the character of the city renowned for sports, entertainment and business. In essence, prospective sponsors have wider marketing leverage opportunities that include lead sponsorship rights, advertising, events and branding, among others to tap.
Princess Orelope-Adefulire also reaffirmed the commitment of the organisers to this strategic direction saying, "Eko 2012 no doubt promises to showcase our attractive aqua cultures, project our beautiful skyline, fresh green landscapes, and re-enact the warmth of our hospitality.
"It is bound to redefine National Sports Festival in Nigeria. Get ready to see more than the games! We will showcase the best of our business, our inviting entertainment, our rich cultures, and indeed our exciting sporting spirit", she added.
Significantly, the Eko 2012 theme aligns with the destination marketing proposition of Lagos as the ‘premium destination for business leisure’.
Hence, every step is being taken to ensure that the sports festival delivers to intent and purpose by positioning the megacity status of Lagos as a destination where businesses and leisure thrive.
Adefulire also assured prospective corporate sponsors of maximum return on investment saying that it would provide lots of opportunities for Corporate Nigeria.
According to her; “Whatever end of the social corridor you find yourself, Eko 2012 has something beneficial for you. For corporate citizens and wise investors, this is the finest hour for your brands.
"For small and medium scale businsses, your greatest catalyst for growth is here. For everyone looking for networking opportunites, true friendship and indeed a fabulous and rewarding way to end the year 2012, look no further than Eko 2012,” she added.
The LOC formally signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the five firms saddled with the responsibility of marketing Eko 2012 to prospective corporate sponsors. The firms are HotSports Limited, Integral Limited, Lymfad Limited, QSports Limited and Ventolite Marketing.
On June 28, Governor Fashola and the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, supported by other eminent Nigerians, unveiled the official mascot, logo and website for the festival.
The mascot is nicknamed ‘Lasgidi’, a popular name for Lagos State amongst the youth, while the dedicated website for the game is eko2012ng.com.
Apart from serving as brand EKO 2012 properties, the LOC Secretary General, Dr. Kweku Tandoh, explained that the festival icons were aimed at giving the game its character.
He added that the presentation of the icons was a platform to make Nigerians identify with the festival as well as help prospective corporate sponsors recognise and harness the huge marketing and leveraging opportunities presented by the sports fiesta.
If things work out as planned and the LOC achieved its aim, then the Fashola administration would have demonstrated that it is leaving nothing to chance to reinforce the primus inter pares status of the state.
As it is, The EKO 2012 is being planned as a consolidation of the state’s performance in numerous youth and sports development initiatives one of which was the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup which ran under the theme, “Lagos, Own the Game”.
Considering other activities packed into the game, it will also offer business opportunities for residents and visitors into the commercial city.