Leveraging Sponsorship for Brand Positioning

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Raheem Akingbolu writes on the place of sponsorship in brand positioning, citing the chemistry challenge project being promoted by PZ Cussons as a laudable example

The relevance of any brand is adjudged by many criteria. A school of thought summarises brand strength under the premise of Presence and Voltage. In their view, presence is a measure of how many people know about the brand and understand what it has to offer. A brand with a high level of presence will enter a buyer’s consideration set more easily than a brand with low presence. Voltage on the other hand, is a relative measure of how efficiently a brand converts people from low to higher levels of attitudinal loyalty which in turn increases the pace of purchase.

A brand with a high voltage score is positioned well to grow its share of sales in its product or service category. A strong brand can also be described as one which has market leadership, viable brand perception, high top of mind recall and visible presence in the marketplace.

In this era of persistent complaint about the standard of education in Nigeria, Most observers were expecting brands to fall over themselves to deepen their involvement in the education sector. Incidentally the reverse has been the case.

Antecedents have shown that brands seeking immediate gratifications have burnt their fingers, so most have left the area for visionary brands that can utilise such platforms for their brand’s long-term benefits.

A former Chief Marketing officer of MTN, Mr. Bola Akingbade had opined some months ago that a company that seeks to maintain a strong brand must employ strategies that will elicit top of mind awareness while making the brand relevant beyond its functional benefits in a bid to get maximum loyalty.

Chemistry challenge project

All the above must have guided the choice of PZ Cussons in building a strong emotive bond between her brands and the various publics that it come in contact with it in the course of building the Chemistry challenge project. The brand has used the strategy of consistent market presence through the Chemistry challenge competition to elicit top of mind recall to remain strong in the marketplace.

In the last few years of the existence of PZ Cussons Chemistry Challenge, this FMCG colossus has not lost sight of its vision to chart a new course for others to follow. And luckily too, the sponsoring brands from the stable of PZ – Premier Soap and Nunu Milk- have been fairly rewarded with a barrage of praises and commendations for consistently creating incredible value for the education community in Lagos.

In the last half a dozen years, The annual Chemistry Challenge competition has continued to grow in leaps and bound, championing one of Nigeria’s most successful school quiz competition stories ever told. But behind that story is a team of suave, counter-intuitive thinkers who constantly bury their brains in the clouds, trying to re-create the school quiz world we all see today. The grand finale of the 2017 Chemistry challenge was a classical example of a performance from a team that has creativity as a culture that is intrinsically embedded at the core of its soul. The challenge to find the unusual, to question what is not but can be and the hunger to find great story behind life’s phenomena inspires the team to look outside the window for answers. The challenge to find this great story and tell it the best way pushes the team to discard long-standing norms, generally-accepted notions and absolute truths to create a quiz competition that truly inspires.

The meticulous organisation of the grand finale of 2017 PZ Cussons Chemistry Challenge is a clear example. On that eventful day of, the sun rose with uncanny warmth and radiance. It seemed nature was joining voices with science to project the relevance of the epoch-making event .

The MUSON centre, Onikan, Lagos, venue of the event was quite cosy as guests arrived in their numbers. It was not a day for speech making as guests were formally ushered into the theatre- shaped hall.

As the quizmaster, mounted the rostrum it was obvious that the programme will go straight to the main event of the day. Although the glow of the sun was on his foreheads as he beamed with smiles while giving a background of this year’s competition, the construct on the stiff and less luxuriant faces of the six finalists contesting for the coveted prizes made the atmosphere thick with anxiety and tension. At one point, the quizmaster yelled, “relax guys, this is not the third world war”. He had to force a handshake amongst the contestant.

As the quizmaster steered the occasion from the podium with guided poise, it was obvious that the event would be a loaded package with suspense and excitement.

Reward of exellence

The annual PZ Cussons Chemistry Challenge, an initiative of PZ Cussons Foundation started this year with over 3000 students at the first stage of the competition. The second round had 130 selected performers taking the multiple answer examination that led to 24 including 3 female students, scoring above the set mark. Following the practical test for the 24 players, the 6 finalists emerged to compete for the star prize of the year.

This year’s Chemistry Challenge competition, themed Be A Winner, was designed to stimulate and inspire the learning of Chemistry amongst students and raise their level of reasoning to demonstrate the importance of chemistry in our society. The programme this year is sponsored by two top family brands, Premier Soap and Nunu Milk from the stable PZ Cussons Nigeria. Non-participating students were not left out as they also tested their Chemistry knowledge during the Online Student Test.
This year, the involvement of Chemistry teachers at the grand finale was more visible. The Top 6 teachers with the highest score on the Online Teachers Aptitude Test were invited to compete against each other for a handsome reward.

To douse deep anxiety pervading the atmosphere in the closely fought rounds of quiz battles among the six contestants, invited teachers present at the grand finale were called to the podium for the teachers’ challenge. At the end of the tight contest, Mr. Nnani John of Top Grade Secondary School emerged overall winner of the teacher’s challenge. He went home with N70,000 cash and products. While other top three contestants went home with cash prizes and products.

With the teachers’ contest out of the way, tension returned as the question in minds of all present was: who would that be ultimate champion? Inside the tastefully furnished MUSON chamber, one could feel the suspense rising gradually to a crescendo until everything was brought to the open. Ogunmola Dara, SS II Students of New Hall International School, Lekki was announced the winner of PZ Cussons Chemistry Challenge 2016/2017. Dara pulled a total of 90% in practical and 100% in the quiz sessions at the grand finale.
For his outstanding performance, Dara was rewarded with N700,000 cash, a laptop, a trophy and gold medal, while his Chemistry teacher, Mr. Adeoye Raphael, won N100,000 and a plaque and the school got N100,000 worth of laboratory equipment.

Oyelamin Samuel of Tomia Community Senior Secondary School, Alagbado, who scored a total of 88.50 per cent, emerged first runners up and was presented with a cheque of N450, 000, a laptop and silver medal. His Chemistry teacher, Mr. Bowale Oludare went home with N80, 000 cash and a plague, while the school got N80,000 worth of laboratory equipment.

With a cumulative score of 88 per cent, Anyika Justine of Federal Government College Ijanikin finished as second runner-up and got N350,000 cash prize, a laptop and bronze medal. Anyika’s Chemistry teacher, Adedamola Ibunkunola, won N70,000 while his school received N70,000 worth of laboratory equipment.

Third runner-up, Adepoju Adewale of Fountain Height School, pulled a total of 80.40 per cent and had a cash prize of N250, 000, a laptop and a consolation medal, while his Chemistry teacher, got N60,000 and a plaque. Adewale’s school had N60,000 worth of laboratory equipment.
However, the two other students that came 5th and 6th were also rewarded with a cash prize of N 100, 000 and N50,000 and packs of Nunu respectively.

Imports from 2017 edition
Speaking on obvious success of the 2017 chemistry Challenge, the Managing Director, PZCussons Consumer, Mr. Alex Goma expressed full satisfaction with flow of the 2017 chemistry challenge. His words: “it is quite commendable to see our two frontline brands, Premier Cool and Nunu Milk step up massively to motivate Nigerian students to appreciate the importance of science to our everyday life through our PZCussons Chemistry Challenge Initiative. We brought in the two quality brands, to do the physical and emotional connections needed to consolidate the impact of this project. This edition has been a great improvement on the past ones”.

Also at the event, Permanent Secretary, Lagos Ministry of Education, Mr. Adesina Odeyemi revealed that the Lagos State government greatly appreciates the efforts of PZCussons Foundation and the supporting brands for contributing to the development of science, especially chemistry as it affect our everyday life. He further stated that, the government through it development initiated will continue to provide necessary support to make the Chemistry Challenge bigger and better every edition.

Also commenting on the 2017 PZ Cussons the National Chairman of Chartered Institute of Chemist of Nigeria, Prof Oladele Osibanjo who is also Chairman Advisory Board for the science competition, disclosed that the programme will not only create benefits the immediate winners, but would motivate and make great impact on the Nigerian students at all levels of study of chemistry. Oladele, added that, “Nigeria is full of natural talents; any students that can shine at the chemistry challenge would compete and excel among best brains globally.”