Brand Ambassadors as a Lunch Pad for Positioning


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

Perhaps because consumers all over the world idolise their favourite stars, either in music and sports, brand promoters have found the need to use stars to promote their brand almost irresistible. It is a natural feeling among patrons of various brands to use a particular product their favourite star identifies with.

To them, it simply gives the confidence of quality. The feeling is that for a Lionel Messi to be using a particular shaving stick or perfume, it must be of good quality. It is inconsequential if the feeling of quality is just based on perception and not on any empirical proof. Therefore, celebrity endorsements of brands have always been a strong tool for positioning.

For Trophy Larger, from the stable of AbInBev Nigeria, this marketing approach is believed to have helped it gain acceptability in the Nigerian market in recent time. In the last two years, its commitment to innovation and creativity appears not to have only helped it whether the storm, it has helped the Trophy brand to extend its frontiers in the market.

 For instance, aside the use of advertising and experiential supports, promoters of the brand, through their agency have invested hugely in sponsorship and celebrity endorsement. The height of this was when the company unveiled a credential campaign through which Trophy was christened ‘The Honourable’. Not done, its spin doctors also played a fast game when they settled for a suave Nollywood personality –Femi Adebayo, as the face of ‘The Honourable’. The decision was applauded by industry watchers because the actor is believed to represent the best in the new generation of theater practitioners in the South West. The two strategies didn’t only cause a stir in the market place it boosted the profile of the brand and took it to the premium position

Changing gear…

Recently in Lagos, the brand promoters took the strategy a notch higher when they signed on three ambassadors (Falz, Joseph Yobo and Femi Adebayo) for the 2019 marketing year; Femi is an existing ambassador whose contract was only renewed, while Yobo and Falz are being signed anew.

The unveil heralds a 5-a-side football competition sponsored by Trophy, which starts in March this year. All lovers of football have been encouraged to participate in the competition, either as fans or as players.

“There are designated bars where interested teams and individuals are required to pick-up forms for registration to participate, once they meet the criteria of submitting 36 crown corks. Plenty gift items and monies will be won during the competition, while the icing on the cake is the fact that the overall winner will represent Nigeria at a continental 5-a-side tourney in Tanzania. All three ambassadors will feature in communication materials that will be deployed for the competition,” the company stated in a statement.

At the unveil, BU – President West Africa, International Breweries, Annabelle DeGroot, said:  “At International Breweries, we put our customers first and strive to give them all round value whether in an experiential manner or otherwise. That is why we are happy that the Trophy 5-a-side Field of Honour tournament will resonate well with our people who are also football lovers.”

On her part, Marketing Director, International Breweries, Tolu Adedeji, remarked that  the company knew that Nigeria is a football loving nation, stating that the Trophy 5-a-side Field of Honour campaign is not just another soccer tournament.

“It is designed to create an opportunity for our customers to celebrate and represent their communities. It is designed to tap into the passion many Nigerians have for soccer as they enjoy the beer they love,” she said.

On the Prize money, she disclosed that the winning prize would be N3m with all expense paid trip to Tanzania for the continental finals. She also pointed out that the winning team will also have bragging rights as the best 5-a-side football team in the southwest.

With the recruitment of the ambassadors, it is believed that it will help the brand to consolidate its foothold in the Nigeria market and serves to widen the spread of the brand’s key expression of ‘live with honour’ in three critical sectors: Music, Movie and Football. Without any form of ambiguity, the brand can easily claim to have the biggest haul of contracted ambassadors in Nigeria – a clear testament of its leadership credential in Nigeria’s beer market.

Last year, the brand erected a giant Trophy monument at National Stadium, Lagos, during the world cup in Russia – as a demonstration of support for Nigeria’s participation at the tourney. Also, last year, the company opened the second biggest brewery in Sub-Sahara Africa – at Sagamu, Ogun State. These are loud statements about the brand’s leadership credential in Nigeria’s beer market.

With what is believed as its unique and crisp taste, Trophy has since moved from a regional brand to a national brand that spread across the key states of the federation. Until recently, the beer brand was selling predominantly in the south west Nigeria, but now believes to be receiving increasing demands from parts of Edo and Delta States. It comes in four main packages:330 ml can, 500ml can, 375ml bottle and 600ml bottle.”

Culture Communications is the full-service advertising agency that has successfully curated Trophy Lager’s branded communications – since 2011. Managing Director of the agency, Yomi Benson, sees the on-boarding of three ambassadors for Trophy as “a historic moment that will have far-reaching effects not only in the beer industry but also in Nigeria’s marketing landscape generally”. He added that “the agency is very proud to have played a pivotal role in this undertaking that very loudly espouses Trophy’s essential brand purpose of rewarding honourable actions”. In his reminiscence on the relationship between Trophy and Culture Communications, Benson recalled that “In 2011, when we got a brief to pitch for the brand, we were barely 1-year-old. But we took it as the greatest battle we would ever have to fight and rallied everybody in the agency around it. We are happy to have won the account, but we are happier for the part we are playing in growing the brand from a beer that was consumed in the fringes to a beer that now occupies prominent spaces at mainstream settings”.



Competition in the beer market

With a market share of 9%, Nigeria’s beer market has been rated one of the 10 fastest growing beer markets in the world. Having explored all the marketing gimmicks to create brand loyalty, promoters of the leading brands in the nation’s beer market have now resorted to low blows to outsmart one another.

Guinness and Nigerian Breweries, two leading alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage makers are long-standing rivals. Although the feud between the two companies heightened with the launch of Legend Extra Stout in 1992 by Nigerian Breweries, the truth is that the brand war could be dated back to 1962, when Guinness brewery was established in Lagos. Before then, the NBC (which became the Nigeria Brewing Limited, NBL, and now the Nigeria Breweries Plc was the major manufacturer in the beer sector, while a company was formed to import Guinness extra stout into the country from Ireland.