In furtherance of its ‘Fly with the Eagles’ campaign, which was unveiled towards the end of last year, Guinness Nigeria raised the bar of sponsorship as a tool for positioning last week, when it unveiled an expansive jersey to drum support for the Nigerian team, Raheem Akingbolu reports
As the official sponsors of the Super Eagles, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout set a new world record last week, as it unveiled the largest football jersey in the world to teeming consumers, football enthusiasts and top government functionaries.
The unveil event, which took place at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, was witnessed by dignitaries including the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sport, Youth and Social Development in Lagos State, Dr. Abiola Awonuga, who represented the state governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN.
The jersey, which was measured by the quantity surveying firm, Billings Cost Associates and vetted by the renowned audit firm, Alexander Forbes and results presented to Guinness Managing Director, Mr. Seni Adetu. The size of the jersey was put at 249.9ft by 275.58ft setting a new world record over the last one set at 234ft 1in by 259ft 8in at Istanbul, Turkey in 2009.
Speaking at the event, the representative of the governor expressed her appreciation to Guinness for their support of the national team and commended their innovativeness in putting Nigeria on the world map in a positive way.
“I am very proud that Lagos state has been given the rare honour of hosting the record breaking jersey and we especially commend Guinness for taking the initiative to support the Super Eagles and the ever resolute Nigerian fans in the hope of bringing back the cup” Awonuga said
Though an innovation considered by football lovers as capable of boosting the morale of the Nigerian team at the ongoing Nations Cup in South Africa, brand analysts believe that it would in a way position the brand as a truly Nigerian brand.
The producer of Brand Network TV, a brand management based television programme, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, described the innovation as a patriotic step that was capable of impacting both the brand and the team.
“That this is happening at a time when we are not sure of the fate of the Supper Eagle at the tournament is a rare gesture that would go a long way in giving the brand a considerable share of voice in Nigerian market. In another way round, the innovation has elicited enthusiasm in the minds of football lovers and made them to further identify with the team. To me it would be a plus to both partners,” he said.
Unveiling the jersey, the Marketing and Innovation Director Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Austin Ufomba, said Guinness is proud to be associated with the success.
“We are extremely glad to be at the centre of this remarkable feat, putting Nigeria on the global map and rallying the support of millions of Nigerian fans for our dear national team. We are passionate about the Super Eagles and our greatest desire is to see them excel at AFCON 2013 that is why we have decided to galvanise the support of millions of Nigerian fans in this most unique way. We believe that with this level encouragement and support, the team will go a long way,” Ufomba explained.
Ufomba further said “we know Nigerians share a common passion for the Super Eagles and we believe that creating a platform such as this will help further encourage them to fly the nation’s flag high at the tournament and make all of us proud”.
Also commenting on the initiative of the huge jersey by Guinness, Head, Marketing Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Deji Tinubu, said there is no better way to show support for the Super Eagles than rallying round them particularly this time. “We believe this support for the Super Eagles by their fans at this period will spur the team on and encourage them to do more” Tinubu enthused.
The high point of the event was when the Marketing Manager, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, Mr. Obinna Anyalebechi, encouraged fans to rally round the Super Eagles by writing their goodwill messages on the largest jersey.
“We want to encourage all Super Eagles fans and lovers of football to come out en-masse and put their signatures on the jersey. This is history in the making and a rare chance to send personal goodwill messages to the team in South Africa” Anyalebechi encouraged.
In a jiffy, hundreds of Nigerians present at the event surged forward with customised marker and marched on towards the jersey to append their signature and expressed their goodwill message.
Inscriptions like; ‘ride on Super Eagle’, ‘continue to fly higher our dream team and ‘we believe in you...come home with the trophy’ were among several messages written on the jersey.
A journalist, Mr. Dele Alao, who simply put “a marriage of two super brands awaiting successful ending at the tournament,” told THISDAY that the idea was in line with global practice, whereby activations are carried out to connect consumers.
According to Alao, “What we have just seeing is a well cut-out activation programme that would go a long way in pushing the two brands. Any step taken by handlers of a particular brand to interact and engage consumers is activation and this is an example”.
Between Guinness and Super Eagles
For over five years, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout has been the lead sponsor to the Super Eagles. Late last year, the company launched the ‘Fly with the Eagles’ campaign, through which consumers won exciting prizes, including an all-expense paid trip to South Africa.
Few weeks ago, the company placed an advertorial in some national newspapers to announce the 200 lucky fans, who have so far won in the promo, and would be going to South Africa to watch and cheer the Super Eagles to victory.
Meanwhile, the management of the company has indicated that the consumer engagement platforms was designed to showcase the intense passion that millions of Nigerians have for the national team, adding that the Jersey would be on display from Monday 21st till Friday 25th January at the Main Bowl of the stadium.
According to a fan at the unveil event, Mr. Adebayo Ojebanwi, “Guinness has always done things differently and in a big way, I think they have again raised the bar with this one and I am so proud to be witnessing it in my lifetime. It’s not every day you find such an innovative idea that projects your country to the world in such a good light and push support for the national team all at once, real kudos to Guinness”.
Like all modern activations, the company has also created an interactive platform to engage fans on the Guinness social mobile site by logging in on m.guinnessvip.com or on facebook for live updates, discussion and further details on the world record jersey engagement series.
Speaking at the ceremony to kick-start the campaign last year, the Managing Director of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Seni Adetu, said he was excited that Guinness was at the centre of galvanising support from millions of Nigerian fans.
He said, “Guinness Nigeria is keeping faith with the Super Eagles as we have always done because we believe the team is not just made up of the eleven players on the pitch but also includes the 170 million people cheering their team on. As a company and a football-loving brand, we are convinced that we have what it takes to succeed at this year’s outing.”
Before unveiling the logo for the campaign, Ufomba reeled out a series of activation that make up the entire ‘Fly with the Eagles’ campaign – including a National Consumer Promotion, the campaign theme song, Guinness Fan Parks and an exciting engagement platform that would enhance deeper participation of fans and consumers alike.
The Secretary General of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Musa Amadu, represented by Adama Idris, applauded Guinness’ efforts in supporting the national team.
He said, “The Super Eagles have become a symbol of national pride and anyone that supports the team supports the success of the nation as a whole. We are very happy that Guinness is embarking on this journey with us and indeed they must be applauded for the continuing support and encouragement they have provided for the sport as a whole and especially football.”