Brand Ambassador as a Positioning Tool


As more business owners continue to identify with celebrities to position their brands, Raheem Akingbolu writes on the impact of the strategy on sales and market acceptability, citing the example of the recent appointment of a nollywood star, Mercy Johnson as Mr. Chef Ambassador

Celebrity endorsement and brand ambassador are not new phenomena in the marketing mix but they have, in recent time, become strong tools in Nigeria. In the last few years, hardly there is any brand that worth its name that has not, at one time or the other, associated with a celebrity for a particular period. European coca wine maker, Vin Mariani set the standard back in the 19th century with print endorsements from Pope Leo XIII and French actor Bethelier. Over the next 150 years, celebrities and companies have continued to join forces when selling products, with mixed results. From Pepsi, to Nike, Diageo to Coca-Cola, all have ride on endorsement to extend their frontiers in the market.

In recent time, top Nigeria artistes have been engaged by various brands for positioning. Perhaps the Globacom brand is more popular for this, considering the facts of nollywood actors, actresses and music icons it has engaged in the 10 years. The story is the same in the Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector of the economy. For instance, as part of its strategies to tackle competition in the seasoning market, Promasidor Nigeria Limited, had years back, engaged Kate Henshaw, who was later joined by popular Nigerian singer, Flavour Nabania, to connect the market.

Between Royal Salts and Mercy Johnson
In what looked like a strategic partnership to further extend the frontier of the Mr. Chef brand, an iodized salt from the stable of Royal Salts Limited, the promoters of the brand, recently appointed signed Mercy Johnson – Okojie, a leading Nigerian actress to be the face of the flagship brand. Unlike many of such appointments, the company was said to have settled for the actress because of the connection between the message the brand is currently pushing out and the recent experience of Johnson – Okojie, which all bothered on the importance of iodized salt.

“Perhaps, I will still be one of those who don’t know the importance of consuming iodized salt if I didn’t firsthand experience. I will share the story some other day but the truth is that I was advised when I went for surgery abroad sometimes ago to be consuming iodized salt,” the actress had stated while giving her acceptance speech.

Speaking on how the company arrived at the choice of its new ambassador, one of the directors of Royal Salt, Mr. Reggie Uduhiri, said Mercy Johnson is the ideal personality that encapsulates what the Mr. Chef brand stands for today.

“She represents what our brand stands for in today’s market. She is a homemaker, a good mother and wife and a prolific actress that appeals to almost everyone, giving us joy and entertainment. She is better suited to help us spread the message to Nigerians on the joy Mr. Chef brings to homes beyond adding taste to life,” he stated.

Another director of the company, Mr. Lawal Idirisu, said: “We are pleased to be joined by the exceptional Mercy Johnson. She is the person we have been looking forward to partner with for some time due to her story, her values, and appealing personality. We are glad to have reached an agreement with her.

For us at Mr. Chef, we believe our customers always come before everything else. Therefore, we have decided to make it a priority to share the essential nature of our product with our patrons and the public. We hope the amazing Mercy Johnson will be able to greatly assist us with using her platform to tell the Mr. Chef story.

The actress was excited about her unveiling and revealed that she can’t wait to start sharing the joy Mr. Chef salt gives to mothers and the many interest and values she shares with the brand that made her jump at the opportunity of a relationship. She said that the brand has become a stable in many Nigerian kitchens. She hopes to help enlighten Nigerians on iodine and the impact of iodine deficiency to normal human development.

The brand according to its promoters
Speaking on the relevance of Royal Salts Limited in the Nigerian market, Uduhiri, stated that it has delivered quality Salts to Nigerians nationwide for over decades, adding that it has effectively secured a spot in the homes and hearts of the Nation, not just by happenstance, but by a track record of delivering on high quality products that are not only affordable but are accessible to the everyday consumer.

“Mr Chef salts has been a prominent brand in the Nigerian salt market for decades, providing high quality iodized salt to Nigerians for years past, and for many more years to come. The Mr Chef Brand is highly treasured in the Nigerian Market, and the company strives tirelessly to maintain the positive light in which the brand is regarded; as a result, Mr Chef salts has been in the Nigerian market for years without any crisis both to the company, and the customer.

”Mr Chef iodized salts hasalways focused on its health benefits to consumers, underlining the essential nature of iodine in the diet, and the crucial nature of iodized salts towards contributing to a well-rounded diet. They have since never relented in providing that healthy supplement in the form of their iodized salts, while also ensuring to include a plethora of essential vitamins and minerals within the makeup of the salts in question; this is why their communication towards their customers has always been ‘your iodized salt’ – succinctly addressing the fact that the benefits of the salt are made only with the consumer in mind,”

Corroborating this position, Mr. Idirisu disclosed that with new competition in the Salt market, Mr Chef is currently opening even more avenues to channel efficient consumer engagement, with an ideology to bring to the forefront the ever present nature of Mr chef in every household. He pointed out the essential benefits the brand brings to the table in terms of a reliable supplementary outlet, capable of supplying the essential dietary needs required of salt, along with providing the quality salty alternative that has become a staple in Nigerian households for so long.

“The consumer has always been the focus of Mr Chef iodized salts, and the brand has always wanted to open a direct channel to its consumers that would be as organic, and open as ever; communicating not only the intended brand identity, but the very essence of the Mr Chef brand to all consumers across the country. This is ultimately geared towards building as close to a cordial a relationship as possible between the Brand, and the customer; because as far as the brand is concerned it is your iodised salt, so consumers have much at stake in the brand than ever before,” he said.

Outside the salt market, the director emphasised that Royal Salts has also been active in circles within culinary circles, but just outside the jurisdiction of salt, with the renowned brand of seasoning ‘Mr Chef Seasoning’. He further stated that it has been performing as reliably as Mr Chef Salts within the Nigerian Market, Proving the essential fact that Mr Chef is a staple in Households not only as a product, but as a brand on its own merit.

“Royal Salts has worked tirelessly to ensure the Mr Chef brand has maintained a certain standard that has remained unwavering over years, this is reflected by an outstanding 65% market share in the Nigerian salt market, a track record they hope to build upon; with priority being placed on ensuring that the desires, aspirations and needs of every consumer is sufficiently addressed as long as it deals with salt – all this and more which they hope to achieve with the new and exciting signing of Mercy Johnson – Okojie as their new brand ambassador, along with a new campaign that is being tagged “A Better taste of life”, Idrisu stated.

Relevance to brand growth
As a wife and a mother, who cooks and consumes, the promoters of the brand, can be said to have made a good choice by appointing the actress. Beyond this, her popularity may also be a plus for the brand as many consumers, may decide to pitch their tent with Mr. Chef because of Mercy Johnson.

However, this will depend largely on the roles the brand ambassador perform to boost the image of the brand in the years ahead. But as things are, the marriage looks fine for both partners.