Beyond advertising and other marketing communication tools, brand owners are fast exploring new channels to drive home their messages, Raheem Akingbolu reports.
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 the view of this school of thought, 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.
Competition in the telecom sector
In the Nigerian telecommunications market where operators depend on subscribers trust to succeed, the competition has been stiffer than other sectors.
The challenge of the operator is to continue to hold the attention of likely subscribers. In helping to achieve this, use of celebrity endorsers, reality shows, and promotions have been widely used as marketing strategy by operators of the major networks in the country.
This becomes necessary because of the belief that advertising alone might not solve the problem as many newspaper readers and television viewers, these days, pay little or no attention to campaigns.
As at the last count all the major operators –Airtel, Glo, Etisalat and MTN are either involved in reality show, talent hunt exercise or sponsorship.
Experts believe that these areas are attractive to the owners of the brands to appeal to the youth market.
From the get-go of MTN’s operations in the country, the company, through its Nigerian subsidiary, has left no one in doubt about its desire to deliver a brighter future to Nigerians. This, according to its promoters, the brand routinely demonstrates by operating in the most socially responsible manner.
“It is not positioning but a rule it set for itself, a rule it has abided by from then till today, and a rule it will not contemplate to review in the future.
“To achieve this, it elected to operate in the realm of superlatives in the three legs of corporate social responsibility (CSR) – corporate governance, corporate social investment and corporate philanthropy,” PR Manager at MTN Nigeria, Funso Aina, had stated.
According to him, in terms of corporate governance, the company adopts the highest ethical standards, abiding by the extant laws of the land, and operating in line with the international best practices.
Also, for corporate social investment, he stated that MTN Nigeria had ensured that its operations provide a win-win situation for all stakeholders in its business.
“On the corporate philanthropy leg, the company, through its award-winning arm, the MTN Foundation, has demonstrated leadership by allocating one percent of its profit after tax (PAT) to humanitarian activities aimed at improving the health status of Nigerians, enhancing the country’s education standards, empowering Nigerians economically and delivering a brighter future to Nigerians.
“It is unarguably the leading corporate organisation in the country in the provision of targeted interventions in a sustainable way,” the PR Manager stated.
Like its business activities, MTN’s corporate philanthropic gestures – from the ‘Schools Connect and Universities Connect,’ to the provision of critical medical equipment in hospitals and primary health centers, to training of lady mechanics and support to other economic empowerment and a host of other initiatives – have been a huge success, making great impacts across communities and cities in the country.
To remain relevant in the market, the brand has refused to be boxed into a corner.
At least, one would have thought that, having allocated as much as one percent profit after tax (PAT) to humanitarian gestures, and having achieved enormous impact, MTN could as well be coasting in the euphoria of these achievements. No!
Perhaps, that’s why the company a few years ago, went ahead to dedicate 21 days annually to engage in further humanitarian activities. This period, known as ‘21 days of Y’ello Care,’ was MTN’s employee volunteer programme, when thousands of staff of the telecommunications company go out and engage in activities that positively impact the Nigerian people.
This year’s MTN 21 Days of Y’ello Care, which is the 11th edition of the MTN Group annual care campaign initiative, saw MTN staff in Africa, Middle East and Asia showing their goodwill around the world.
It kicked off on 1 June and was rounded off on 21 June, within which period, the staff of the company engaged in various activities, from youth empowerment initiatives, to public enlightenment walk, to ICT training and career fair. This year’s theme was ‘Creating a Brighter Future’.
As part of the youth empowerment initiatives, the company’s staff engaged students on various topics at the skills Acquisition Centre, Ikorodu and the Vocational Training & Skills Acquisition Centre, Egbeda, amongst others. Some of the topics the facilitators taught the students bordered around growing their businesses and how they can take their businesses online, utilising digital marketing techniques amongst other practices.
In a similar vein, the company took the Y’ello Care campaign to the University of Lagos, Yaba, Lagos, where it organised a free Google Digital Skills training session for students of the school.
The facilitators covered a lot of grounds, from content marketing, remarketing and jobs searches to making pitches, as well as how best to optimally use the search engines to achieve desired results.
One of the high points of this year’s campaign was the MTN Staff Walk, which was used to anchor the National Priority Project, raising awareness for Rhesus Gene Deficiency and child mortality on Friday, 8th June, 2018. Rhesus factor is an antigen occurring on the red blood cells of many human beings and some other primates. This is an increasing health issue, especially as it relates to the haemolytic disease in newborns. According to the National Population Commission (NPC), out of the about 86 million women in the country, 5.9 percent have the Rhesus disease. It is bewildering that despite this high prevalence, little is known about the disease in Nigeria. This is the major reason MTN Nigeria elected to raise awareness for the condition.
More alarming than the Rhesus factor issue is the country’s infant mortality rate, the number of children who die before their fifth birthday per 1000 live births in a year. According to the World Health Organisation, the country’s infant mortality rate stands at about 20 percent, the third highest in the world. This implies that one out of every five children born in Nigeria die before his or her fifth birthday.
It is therefore believed in many quarters that it was a thoughtful thing that the telecommunications company spared a thought for our little ones and actually took the bold steps of bringing a brighter future to them and their loved ones.
As the year’s programme rounded off on 21 June, observers believed that the campaign was worth it.
This was so because a lot of youths from across various divides benefitted from the skills acquisition programme; a lot of awareness was raised for the two medical issues that formed the year’s National Priority Project an d plenty freebies including laptops, tablets and other devices that would help the beneficiaries key into the opportunities that abound in the digital age, were given out.
Looking at the imports of the initiative, the Corporate Relations Executive, MTN Nigeria, Tobechukwu Okigbo, who appreciated the staff for their dedication and selfless disposition throughout the campaign, encouraged Nigerian youths to continue to focus on empowering themselves.