AMAA Awards as Platform for Brand Positioning

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As stakeholders in the entertainment industry prepare for the 2017 edition of the Africa Movie Academy Awards in Lagos, Raheem Akingbolu writes that the event will be a good opportunity for local and multinational brands to further deepen their presence in the market

Brand owners and spin doctors are always out to achieve one thing –connecting their brands with the right audience. Until recently, advertising is the major platform being explored by them to reach out to their patrons but that has since changed. Today, with the rise of experiential leg of the marketing mix, handlers of brand strive to locate gatherings that would offer them opportunities to communicate with their brands.

Since the first quarter of the year, when it was announced that Lagos State, the heartbeat of Nigeria’s consumer activities, would host the 13th edition of the prestigious award, the media has been awash with the opportunities it would offer brands in the market. As the gathering of African movie stars, directors, producers and script writers, there is no gainsaying the fact that it will drive human traffic and influencers. AMAA, an annual awards event for creative minds within the African continent, has become the center stage for the recognition of talents and professionalism in the Africa film industry over the years.

The state government was quick to observe the opportunities it tended to provide for brands at the AMAA 2017 Sponsors’ Night, when its Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, called businesses and corporate Nigeria to come on board and support the awards through sponsorship.

“We are using this Sponsors’ Night event to call on businesses and corporate Nigeria to come on board and support the awards through sponsorship and I am glad that the various marketing and branding opportunities which AMAA offers sponsors have been unveiled to us. We call on companies to buy into this and support this very successful continental award. Let me also state that we have in Lagos, a Governor who is committed to the development of the creative sector of our economy,’’ Ayorinde said.

In what looked like a subtle way to point out how brands that have in the past leveraged on the award fared in the market, the founder of the award, Ms. Peace Anyiam-Osigwe pour encomium on promoters of brands like United Bank for Africa, Globacom, Sterling Bank, Airtel and other companies that had sponsored and supported AMAA in the past and charged them and others to come to take advantage of the brand activation opportunities that AMAA as a continental award platform offers sponsors.

“Corporate Organisations especially those that have pan-African vision and targeting youths should partner with us and we take over the whole of Africa. Film and entertainment sector generally has become big business in Africa and major contributor to GDP. AMAA has the appeal and reach with over 680 films from all over African countries and Diaspora submitted for this year’s edition. Disney Studio in America submitted 4 films for consideration of AMAA this year and we are very happy about this and this goes to confirm the respect and acceptability of AMAA as the most credible awards for motion picture in Africa. We want more corporate support for AMAA and not only AMAA but for the entire creative industry in Nigeria and Africa. In the days ahead we will be knocking on your doors with our sponsorship proposal,’’ she said.

Lagos as home of businesses
Over the years, AMAA has travelled far and near, either for the main event or nomination party as recently held in Kigali, in Rwanda. For the event proper Bayelsa had consistently played host for the award until last year when it was hosted by Imo State. Despite these locations, some iconic brands moved with AMAA and they explored the opportunities therein.

Considering the strategic position of Lagos as home to many local and international companies, coupled with the city’s blossom population, this year’s edition may turn out to be the opportunities companies have been waiting for to make their strong positioning statement.

A brand management expert, Mr. GaniyuOlowu, is of the opinion that the strategic importance of entertainment to brand building in today’s market may make the event a strong platform for brands willing to connect fast with their target audience.

He said; ‘’Lagos is a mega city with arrays of companies and it commands huge population to play with. Again, looking at the place of entertainment to brand building in today’s market, companies that ignore the event may do so at their own peril. Of course, I’m aware that some brands have already signed on to be part of the continental award and it is cheering news. We should not forget that if there is any product conceived and consume in Africa, it is the entertainment. Our artists command huge followers and they can easily strike the right cord in the market,’’

Global examples
History and records have shown that brands like Coca Cola and other global brands became leading brands because of their consistent connection with entertainment icons. Though, producers of branded entertainment usually struggle with two things: not making their projects seem too much like marketing, and wanting audiences to discover the content on their own, effectively exploiting social-media platforms helped address the latter.
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All this notwithstanding, content continues to be king, but collaboration proved key in making marketing entertaining in today’s market.

For instance, when a YouTube video, in which the effusively charming TJ Smith gets drivers stuck in L.A. traffic to sing along with him, went viral in 2013 and got Smith air time on national news shows, Nissan smartly brokered a deal to make the online talent its spokesman in a brilliant new campaign for its Sentra in 2014. The carmaker remade the video, putting Smith inside the small car, integrated him into its sponsorship of NBC’s “The Voice,” and even had him drive the car in an ad for Lyft. The result is easily one of the best moves by an agency.

Also, American Express has long succeeded in pairing up with the music biz through its live Unstaged events. But with the Taylor Swift Experience, the credit card maker was able to use technology in new ways to breathe life into the music video. Only through American Express’ app could fans of the ubiquitous Swift experience her “Blank Space” single with a video shot using 360-degree cameras and featuring an interactive storyline. Whether it wound up selling more copies of Swift’s “1989” album didn’t necessarily matter in this case: As Swift was irritating Spotify by pulling her tunes from the streaming music service, American Express was suddenly looking pretty cool with what it was giving her young fans.

This was also the case with Samsung and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”
It can be tough for anyone to get a lift at Comic-Con now that so many entertainment projects and consumer brands are competing for attention. But Samsung’s tie-in with Lionsgate’s latest “Hunger Games” sequel signaled just how a brand — that isn’t featured in the film, by the way — can take a promotional partnership to a whole new level. In this case, Samsung worked with Lionsgate to build an elaborate exhibit for the film that brought its world to life through costumes, props and experiences, but also put its new tablet into the hands of thousands of fans that wanted to watch the film’s teaser trailer. It’s often tough to get consumers to interact with your product at sponsored events, but Samsung showed just how to make it happen while seeming not crass but cool — and still fit into the franchise’s world.