AFCON: Beyond the Frills and Thrills

AFCON: Beyond the Frills and Thrills

The 2024 edition of the bi-ennial continental soccer fiesta, Africa Cup of Nations, must have come and gone but the fallout from some exciting campaigns pushed out by various brands to support their preferred teams will remain evergreen, reports  Raheem Akingbolu

In the build-up to the just concluded continental soccer fiesta, which took place between January 13 to February 11, 2024 in Ivory Coast, digital satellite television service provider, DStv, dropped a bombshell when it informed its teeming subscribers that it won’t be doing live transmission of matches of the tournament. The reason given by the continental broadcast giants was that it was not able to secure broadcasting rights for the continental soccer showpiece.

It was one announcement that Nigerians did not take kindly to, especially going by the pricey nature of its packages and subscriptions. 

However, DStv was to do a u-turn and announced that it has secured rights. It was a major relief to its subscribers, especially soccer lovers who go beyond live matches and pay attention to pre- and post-match analysis which SuperSport has come to be known for. Even with the little time the sports broadcaster had to prepare, it was still able to provide a memorable coverage of the bi-ennial soccer fiesta. 

One area the brand was able to resonate with its customers and share in the emotions during the tournament was the series of campaign copies that were churned out during the tournament. Perhaps, seeing how passionate Nigerians were in their support for the Super Eagles, DStv also decided to identify with this passion and share in the emotions that were at their highest during the competition. The essence of this is that when a brand connects with the consumer’s passion and also speaks their language, it’s the beginning of a beautiful romance. 

 The Campaigns

Now, let’s look at some of the copies that were churned out during the competition. After the Super Eagles defeated the Bafana Bafana of South Africa, there was a copy showing a big-bellied Eagle with a plate of recently devoured food by its left foot. On the plate was the flag of South Africa. What this copy denoted was that the Super Eagles had just had the Bafana Bafana for a meal.  Before the match itself, there was another copy with the caption: BOYS NEED THEIR DAD. Illustrating the copy was a photo of an eagle, holding a book with a Bafana Bafana inside a cot with a pacifier in his mouth. 

Ahead of the final showdown between the Super Eagles and the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire, there was another copy with the caption: CHOP BELLEFUL. ENTER GYM. CHOP! Meaning: the Super Eagles had just had the Bafana Bafana of South Africa for dinner and had entered the gym to shape up ahead of another meal waiting for them. This time, the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire. There was also another copy with the caption: AN ELEPHANT NEVER FORGETS. This apparently referred to the defeat the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire suffered in the hands of the Super Eagles on January 18th during the group stage match between the two countries where Nigeria prevailed thanks to a second half penalty by the Super Eagles’ skipper, Troost Ekong. 

But a kicker below the copy also ‘reminded’ the elephants that it would be “deja vu: just as an elephant never forgets, Super Eagles are here to remind the Ivory Coast, it’s cooking season again. And after the Super Eagles were defeated by the Elephants in the final, DStv produced another copy showing an Eagle sipping a wine with the kicker: “A few ruffled feathers, but we sip wine with pride. Offering the elephants a taste of what it means to be three-time champions of Africa.”

An Instagram user, @peterlee_akinadewo opined that the “handler and the creative team of DStv Ng should be specially rewarded.” Such was the effect of the copies on Nigerians that they did not only praise DStv but those behind the creatives that showed that the brand identified with the Super Eagles throughout the tournament. 

Social Media Comments  

Also commenting on the various campaign, our own Rita Dominic @-tegadominic wittingly wrote “cooooook for today, tomorrow we drag you guys to tell us why the tariff is so high…for now let’s cook them. Another Instagram user @do2dtun literally ‘killed’ it when he declared “This handler is the best”. In a similar way, @tomike_a declared, “I thoroughly enjoyed your posts this season!!!!! One carton of Maltina for you! Also calling your boss for you dear handler. Yet another viewer @chichieriobu said, “Welldone. Thank you for giving us memes that compliments the energy. We moveeee”

What happened on Instagram during the tournament turned out to be like icing on the cake compared to what happened on X, formerly twitter. For instance, The Duke of Abagana (Elobest) @ifeora90 succinctly declared, “This handler dey burst my brain. My social media personality of the year. Also, Oduma @Lionheart said, “Whoever this designer is, this eagle needs to have the infinity stones when we win”. Another X user, @Joshman_Ade wrote, “This is an image of a true Super Eagle. An Eagle that’s Super. Just imagine it like Super Man. Comparatively but with all sense of humour, @SchoolsinNaija compared DStv with Hilda Baci by declaring “DStv Nigeria has been the Hilda Baci of the Eagles, cooking from left to right. At one point, scores of commentators recommended salary increase for those behind the creatives, “for instance @notoidleness sent a salvo to Multichoice, “If Dem no increase the salary of @DStvNg handler, make I know why. Dude has been on peak performance since #AFCON2024.

Of course, some commentators who were obvious of the fact that the brand’s roots were in South Africa and very strong in other parts of the country couldn’t hide their feeling towards DStv commitment to the Nigeria spirit. A commentator, @youngDa68669368 said “DStv media handler, u even get vawulence pass us…do the one wey you go finish get subscribers…make Cameroon, Angola, South Africa and then rest no ban u for their country. In line with this line of argument, @paulocheke said, “This handler has made me love dstv more. Whoever you are, I love your work. Kindly assist me, I moved to a higher package, but I have not been upgraded.  

Expert Views  

Speaking on the campaign, one of the senior managers at MultiChoice Nigeria who spoke to THISDAY in confidence, gave the credit of the various creatives to the brand management team at DStv who gave their nod to the brand to support the tournament but gave special kudos to X3M Ideas, its creative agency that conceptualised outstanding copies that didn’t only resonate with patrons of the brand but create a top of the mind awareness.

“Our main concern was to identify with Nigerians but as a brand, we were excited when our little effort became a formidable positioning tool to connect our teeming subscribers. Firstly, the credit should be given to our management for giving us go ahead to support Super Eagle but I think the biggest credit would go to our creative agency -X3M Ideas for coming out with the best of creatives not only to celebrate with Super Eagles but to also connect with our subscribers,” he said. 

Generally speaking, AFCON set the real agenda for brands and brand promoters to explore in the first quarter of 2024. The tournament rallied many brands and agencies to action while it lasted and it became a conduit for the articulation of brands’ influences as they tap into various available platforms to penetrate the hearts of consumers.

Like other parts of the world, especially Africa corporations and brands spent millions of dollars on sports marketing and advertising, leveraging the emotional connection between sports talents and their fans to bond with millions of consumers during the tournament.  That was what DStv did and it got more than it bargained for in terms of mileage and emotional connection.

Perhaps because the tournament turned out to be a bigger platform than expected, brands seeking to bolster their presence in Africa, sponsorship of the Africa Cup became an unmissable opportunity.

Brands Involvement

In the build up to the tournament, corporate brands from diverse industries had jostled to become or remain CAF partners. Reportedly bringing in $54.25m in sponsorship revenue.

In doing so, they provide a lens with which to view the evolving economies of the vast and inherently complex continent. This explained why TotalEnergies, Continental AG, Orange, Tecno and Ecobank were loud during the tournament through partnership sponsorship.

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