Anaekwe: Why We Prioritise Stakeholders’ Needs, Expectations

Aishat Anaekwe is the Senior Brand Manager, Life Continental Beer and 33 Export Lager. In this interview she speaks on issues around the brands and their market acceptability. Dike Onwuamaze brings the excerpts:

Life Continental Beer has been known to drive Progress and Success. How is Turu Ugo Lota amplifying this notion?

As is widely known among the Igbos, hard work and success are symbols of leadership and respect. Life Continental Beer is amplifying these highly laudable attributes of the east through the Turo Ugo Lota campaign; to showcase the resilient spirit of Igbos to Nigeria and the rest of Africa, celebrating an ancient heritage of the people and the region. It is indeed a great joy for Life Beer to tell this story and as such, uphold the trust of the East.

How does Life Continental Beer bring life and zest to its stakeholders?

At every point in time, our stakeholders, host communities, loyal retailers and end consumers are king. We prioritise their needs and expectations regarding the brand, creating avenues for partnerships and empowerment often. For decades, Life Beer has supported the progress and success of easterners. Our Life Beer Empowerment scheme alone has utilised over a hundred million to empower and strengthen their business small businesses. As we grow our loyal customers and partners grow with us, across the nation.

How is Life Beer’s performance considering that there are other options available in the market?

Life Beer is currently dominating the beer category in the south-east and has grown to become a dominant beer brand in the country. We are driving the penetration of Life beer into other regions and ensuring we sustain the legacy of good will among these host communities and our partners there.

What are some of the campaigns that have stood out in your engagement with loyal consumers?

For almost a decade now, we have been transfixed on telling compelling brand stories to not only build equity for the brand but engender an awakening among our partners and loyal consumers. In 2014, we rolled out the PROGRESS FOREVER campaign to connect with our core market but the campaign that stood out the most would be that of last year 2020. This unforgettable year, Covid-19 squared up everyone; throwing health, economic and security challenges at all and sundry and the NDU KA campaign was basically to remind our south eastern consumers (Igbos) that they’re a very resilient bunch and also motivate the rest of our audience to stay hopeful and optimistic about the future.

What is the concept behind Turu Ugo Lota and why is it different from other campaigns previously embarked upon?

The Turu Ugo Lota campaign is a story of progress. In line with the brand’s core message, we sought to tell a story about the resilience of our core consumers. Nigerians, specifically people of the South East, have experienced a lot. Coming out of the Covid-19 lockdown, the brand understood it was important to motivate them. We did this by reminding them of their come-back story. Turu Ugo Lota seeks to inspire an attitude to succeed, not just for our target audience but also anybody who is touched by the campaign. It stands out from other campaigns because we went back to the basics in a unique way. It was also the first time we used Nollywood father and son duo, Pete and Yul Edochie as our ambassadors.

With the Turu Ugo Lota campaign, what is your expected response from the market and what is the campaign expected to achieve overall?

We expect people to connect with our brand in a deeper way. Our campaign is relatable and calls out the cultural heritage of the typical Igbo consumer. To create more meaningful associations with our audience we will continue to inspire them in positive ways.

How do you intend to leverage the resilient spirit of the Igbos in achieving increased market penetration?

The Life brand already has its original platforms created to channel this resilience. Through the Progress Booster, which is an initiative to support up and coming entrepreneurs, we sponsor startups by training and issuing them grants to grow their business. It is our own way of encouraging enterprise in the region.

In what way is Life Continental Beer seeking to further collaborate with host communities in facilitating progress and success?

I mentioned the Progress Booster earlier. Another initiative is the Hi-Life Fest, a platform that celebrates the unique sound and dance techniques of the Igbos in various communities. The event discovers relatively unknown talents and pits them in an entertaining musical tournament. The winners are rewarded and sponsored onto bigger stages where they receive wider exposure for their music. We also partake heavily in major cultural events such as the New Yam Festivals, Ofala festivals and more.

Earlier this year, Life Continental Beer was conferred with the title “Mmanya Oganiru of Igboland”. What does the title mean and how has it impacted on the brand?

The Title “Mmanya Oganiru” simply means the “Beer for Progress”. For us, the title is a validation of our brand purpose which is “Progress” and an indication that all our efforts and commitment towards the progress of the Igbo community and Nigeria in general has not gone unnoticed by the people. It especially holds significant meaning for us because the title was conferred upon the brand at Nri, Anambra state. Nri is significant for the Igbos because it is widely regarded as the Cradle of Igboland. So being recognised at such a historic location by respected traditional rulers from across the Eastern region means a lot to us because it tells us that we are making significant impact in affecting the community positively.

Why is Life Continental Beer the preferred Lager of the eastern region?

It’s easy. We have been around long enough to cultivate that impact that has cut through generations of sociable South Easterners who enjoy a finely brewed lager beer. More so, our brand aligns well with the culture of the people and they appreciate a beer that encourages them to succeed despite all odds

Another moment that stands out when discussing Life Continental Beer is the lighting up of the iconic Niger Bridge. Can you shed more light on this?

The lighting up of the Niger Bridge was done in the year 2020. That was at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, so the initiative was just our way of offering a beacon of hope to our people and encouraging them to continue enjoying Life but in a responsible manner in line with all COVID-19 safety precautions.

The recent Egedege video has been a commercial success. Can you tell us the role that Life Continental Beer played in this video?

As the biggest Beer brand in the Eastern market, we are passionate about promoting the Igbo culture. That is why we have the biggest names from the South East in music and movies, Flavour, Phyno, Pete and Yul Edochie as our brand ambassadors. Theresa Onoruah and Larry Gaaga are also icons in their own right and so we decided to identify with the song which has become a phenomenon in pop culture.

The song has an appeal that cuts across cultural barriers and this was reflected in its acceptance by the general public. Within the first few days of its release, it recorded over a million views on YouTube and has been topping all major music charts. So for us at Life Continental Beer, our heritage is about “progress” in all areas of life, be it supporting businesses through our Life Progress Booster initiative or promoting the Igbo culture through our Hi-Life Music Fest, we ensure that our message of “Progress” cuts across everything we do.

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