Advancing Brand Positioning through Culture and Entertainment

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Raheem Akingbolu writes on the place of culture and entertainment in brand building, citing the examples of top brands that are connecting consumers through the platform

As a unifying factor, culture and entertainment have been used extensively by promoters of businesses and great brands to appeal to targeted consumers. A quick look at the profile of most successful local and global brands reveals that at one time or the other, they have used music to appeal to consumers. Now, considering the importance of culture to consumer behaviour, the decision of some Nigerian companies, especially Nigerian Breweries and MTN to penetrate the market through music and cultural activities are beginning to manifest.

Savvy brand builders are always eager to come out with strategies that can connect consumers and rub on the bottom lines of their businesses. Few years ago, Nigeria Breweries initiated what was tagged ‘Fuji T’o Bam’ as a platform to further connect with the patrons of the brand. As a talent hunt initiative, Fuji T’o Bam, was designed to groom budding artists, who were looking platform to launch out. Now in its fourth edition, the platform has thus thrown up some new breed of Fuji musicians, who are now set to explore the entertainment industry.

In the same way, MTN has consistency drummed for Nigeria culture through collaboration with communities to celebrate traditional festivals. Beyond that, the telecom company has also used its talent hunt musical platform; ‘project fame’ to connect with youths.

Goldberg’s example
Culture and entertainment play dominant roles in enhancing the lives of people living in a society. It unites people together and its adherence dates back to time immemorial.

In South West Nigeria and other parts of the country, like in Benin, any initiative that advances the course of entertainment and cultural values ae held in high esteem, as was the case of the Excellency tour embarked by Goldberg, also known as “Your Excellency” from the stables of Nigerian Breweries Plc.

The tour which went through five cities in the South West namely; Abeokuta, Ilorin, Ado Ekiti, Ikare Akoko, Benin City, and Oyo and Benin City, Edo State, was aimed at promoting the culture of the people in these regions through traditional drummers’ competition where winners were rewarded with fabulous cash prizes. This was in line with the brands 3-point agenda of culture, respect and enjoyment which is synonymous with the way of life of the people in areas visited.

It was an initiative which was seen as exemplary, as the people showered praises on the brand and Nigerian Breweries Plc for enhancing indigenous talent in a way that has never been done before.

While commenting on the laudable initiative, the leader of Otapo Bata Drummers that won the grand prize during the competition in Abeokuta, Afolabi Mufutau said he has never seen such move towards advancing culture and entertainment the way Goldberg has done through its Excellency tour.

“This is unprecedented in the history of entertainment in the South West, as large numbers of drummers have not been gathered together to showcase their skills in this manner before, l commend Goldberg for this wonderful initiative,” he said.
At each location, drummers, praise singers and dancers came out in large numbers to display their talent in indigenous drums, such as gangan/ dundun, bata, omele ako, gbedu/ ogido, ashiko, gudugudu Iyalu, Sakara and saworoide.

Although, modern musical instruments are taking over the musical landscape, the place of the talking drum (Yoruba Bata) can never be downplayed. It is unique in its production and sound, which connotes so much to those that deeply understand the Yoruba language and cultural heritage. The drum is called the talking drum because it can imitate the lines speech of a spoken language especially Yoruba.

The Abeokuta experience
The Excellency Tour, which commenced with a procession on March 17, 2017 at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta, threw the rocky city agog with cultural performers in huge numbers, thrilling the audience to the latest dancing patterns as well as what they used to know, a show of both ancient and contemporary lyrics and dance steps.

Hours before the contest, the people trooped en masse to the venue to show their support for their troupe, chanting slogans and dancing to rhythms of popular songs. The huge turnout shows the people’s high regard for their cultural norms and values. The situation was also the same during the Nite of Enjoyment where winners were selected by judges with vast knowledge of the various styles involved in each performance.

The situation was however different in Benin City as it was a case of disc jockeys and free styling artistes with display of talent in Edo languages. The competition was fun, full of entertainment with a show of Edo culture.

The entertainment structure in each region was a reflection of the values which the people uphold. Spectators were thrilled to nights of excitement, joy and dancing, a situation which depicts contentment with the laudable initiative put together by Goldberg.

While thrilling the people to various performances, the contestants in the different locations showered praises on Goldberg, its position as “Your Excellency” which surpasses others in the market.
At the commencement of the Excellency Tour in Abeokuta, Ogun state, on Friday, February 17, 2017, 12 groups auditioned at the cultural centre, venue of the event, with five groups emerging from the pool to reach the grand finale.
The traditional drummers contest which was organised as part of the Goldberg Excellency Tour kicked off with a procession through the major streets of Abeokuta and attracted a huge turnout of residents who were delighted by performances from drummers, praise singers and dancers. The procession helped to pull a large turnout of residents who trooped to the venue of the contest to support their groups during the different performances.

Objective and the prizes
Speaking on the initiative, the Senior Brand Manager, Regional Mainstream Brands, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Funso Ayeni, stated: “The Excellency Tour will resonate the brand’s essence and strengthen its identification with the cultural values of the people of South West Nigeria.”
He added that in line with the brand’s ethos, the successful event in Abeokuta also helped to promote local talent, as the competition brought out the best skills from the performers who see the contest as an opportunity to showcase their talents and skills.

While commenting on their victory, the leader of Otapo Bata Drummers that emerged winners at the traditional drummers contest, Mr. Afolabi Mufutau said it is a thing of joy to see his group clinch the first prize after putting in putting in many hours of hard work in preparation for the competition.
The group outperformed four other groups at the grand finale to cart home the coveted prize of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250, 000).

Ayanwale Drummers clinched the second position and won One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N150, 000) while Omo Aribido Drummers claimed the third spot and settled for the One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000) on offer for the slot. The other two finalists, Ayandare Drummers and Paramount Band got Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000) each.
Other editions also produced winners in the various categories, a situation which was witnessed in Ikare Akoko, Ondo State, where Aje Olokun Drummers emerged winners of the grand prize.

The group outshone four other drummer groups at the grand finale to clinch the first position and the grand prize of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250, 000). The second position with the cash prize of One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N150, 000) was won by Afunbiokun Drummers, while Aloyinlapa Group claimed the third position with the prize of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000). The other two finalists Omolere and Heritage Group got Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000) each.
The situation was different in Benin City, Edo State, where the competition, which was held at the Play House, Okhoro road, was between disc jockeys (DJ) and free styling artistes. The competition which was in Edo languages produced DJ Kingsley Amhas and Nathaniel Iyayi, a rapper, winners of the grand prize of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250,000), while the second position with the cash prize of One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N150,000) was won by DJ Eze John, nicknamed Viroxz and Markuz Obasehan.

The third position was clinched by DJ Bright Osaromore and Destiny Okoedo, also known as Black G, with the cash prize of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100, 000) ; while the other two teams; DJ Amandin Osahenrunwen (Amando) and Okungbowa Endurance (Spanky B) as well as DJ Egualeona Daniel and Endurance Isaac got Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000) each.
At the finale of the Excellency Tour, the Portfolio Manager, Mainstream Lager and Stout Brands, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Emmanuel Agu, said the Goldberg Excellency Tour is aimed at promoting the rich culture of the people of Edo State through traditional DJ and free styling competition

According to Agu, the Goldberg Excellency Tour came on the heels of the unveiling of Goldberg lager beer as “Your Excellency” in 2016 and it is in line with the brand’s unique credentials that position it in a class of its own, away from its peers in the market.

Also as part of efforts in promoting the culture of the people of South West Nigeria, the brand has in the past lent credence to festivals like that of Ojude Oba in Ogun State; Udiroko in Ekiti State and the Osun-Osogbo festival in Osun State. These festivals define and capture the essence of the cultural ethos of the people.
On the correlation between Goldberg and culture; the Corporate Communications/Brand PR Manager, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Patrick Olowokere, said the people of the Southwest and Goldberg lager beer share a common bond which is respect for traditional values and institutions

He stated “that was why the brand has thrown its weight behind open festivals in the South West, and also felicitates with the people of Edo State during the installation of Prince Eheneden Erediauwa, the present Oba of Benin.
“Your Excellency”, Goldberg had also recently embarked on an expanded music talent hunt competition that encompasses Fuji and Juju music under the name Ariya Repete. Over the last years, Goldberg has deepened its bond with the people of the South West with its talent hunt competition, Fuji t’o Bam and has now decided to include Juju music, the other indigenous Yoruba music genre in this new and expanded platform, Ariya Repete.

The inclusion of Juju music was informed by feedback from lovers of the music during the 2016 Fuji t’o Bam competition, who called for its addition as some aspiring Juju artistes tried to pass off as Fuji musicians so as to get a chance to contest on the Fuji t’o Bam platform.

The fusion of Juju music dubbed Juju t’o Gbayi in Ariya Repete signals a new development in cultural contest and entertainment by Goldberg in promoting the rich culture of the people of the South West.
The auditions and selection of artistes in both genres commenced on April 19th, 2017 in Akure and Ibadan simultaneously and continued till May 12th in Ilorin, Ijebu Ode, Oshogbo, Abeokuta, Ado Ekiti and Lagos.

At the various auditions, ten contestants from both genres of music were chosen to compete at the selection parties, where three Fuji and two Juju artistes were selected to the quarter final stage

This is after being judged by appearance, composure, creativity, vocalisation and stage craft by a panel of judges with competence in Fuji and Juju music. Some of the judges were Sikiru Ayinde Agboola, Chairman of National Project Committee, Fuji Musicians of Nigeria; Temidayo Babatope popularly known as Puffy Fee; Wale Thompson, a popular juju musician; and Adebayo Faleke, a radio on-air-personality with Fresh FM, Ibadan; among others.

Meanwhile the quarter finals is slated for June 30th in Akure, while the semi-finals will take place on July 7th in Abeokuta with the grand finale scheduled for July 14th in Ibadan, Oyo State, where overall winner in Fuji and Juju music genres will each clinch the grand prize of N1million and a recording deal each.