From the COVID-19 pandemic to Big Brother Nigeria, the #EndSars protests and beyond, 2020 has been quite an interesting year for the world of marketing and branding in Nigeria and Africa at large.
In this final blog post of the year and ranked in no particular order, here are 7 of the most iconic and memorable moments that have played a role in pushing marketing as a discipline forward in what has already been a historic year in Nigeria’s marketing space:
- Big Brother Naija Lockdown: Big brother Naija has become the new Big Brother Africa. Not only is the franchise massive across Nigeria, it also takes countries like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Ghana by storm. This year however, BBNaija had a moment not only because we were in a global pandemic on lockdown and had only our TVs and phones to keep us company (and boy did they give us a good show!), but also because this was the year that BBNaija bridged a significant class gap that had hitherto existed. In 2020, BBNaija became a unifier that cut across all audiences, from everyday people to the super bougie. Some will argue that Kiddwaya’s presence on the show played a huge role in drawing these new audiences, but either way, everyone got a hang of it this year and the BBNaija brand hit milestones like it’d never done before– peak show viewership, record number of votes (over 9 million votes cast!), online engagement and brand investment. Also, worthy of note is that while BBNaija has historically held a unique space in the marketing industry as a breeding ground for brand influencers, all of the major brand endorsements in 2020 looked to have centered around the products from this years show from Erica with Star Lite & Legend, Kiddwaya with Eko Hotel and Ciroc, Laycon with Oppo & Prince with that lovely Guinness spot.
- Airtel’s 444 Campaign: Airtel’s “444 is a metaphor” sing-along spot was one of my favorite marketing moments of this year. Not only was it super catchy and deployed across every marketing channel you can think of – on and offline, it was also a very clever way of drumming up awareness and recall for their USSD short codes allowing customers to recharge their Airtel lines directly from their bank accounts. It also helped that the jingle, in style and sound came across as very “Teni-esque” (It’s actually performed by a young lady called Omolade, a final year student at University of Ilorin) and that the campaign was unveiled and promoted through the Big Brother Naija Lockdown show with advertising and in a themed contest in the house. It was a genius moment but I am curious about what’s next (what more they would do with this campaign?) and would love to see a case study of the impact this ad had on Airtel’s bottomline.
3. Spar: Spar’s reaction to the looting that followed the #EndSars protests and left a number of their stores completely desolated was a brilliant example of how a brand can create a PR crisis sweet spot– linking empathy marketing and protest allegiance so seamlessly to create a culturally relevant moment. Their PR post was a wholesome and emotive message that resonated very strongly, particularly in the midst of a climate where brands in similar positions (i’m looking at you Bukka Hut) were asking civilians to “help defend their property.” The brand loyalty and positive online sentiment that that message inspired represents the epitome of what brands can achieve in making the best out of an extremely volatile crisis situation.
4. Zikoko: Zikoko launched around 2015 and was regarded originally as the “Nigerian Buzzfeed.” The platform’s popularity waned in the last few years but 2020 was the year Zizoko found its rhythm. Constantly innovating has paid off for the brand: First in the thick of the lockdown, they kickstarted “Zikoko live dating” an often hilarious speed dating show hosted on Instagram Live. Then as the protests began, Zikoko stepped to the plate, arming people with essential tips for effective in-person protest, showing people various ways to support the protests and amplifying the movement overall without taking themselves too seriously (keeping their tone of voice on brand).
Zikoko has also been very pivotal in getting young people to have more and more open conversations about sex, relationships and money in ways that we may not otherwise engage with these conversations. Today, every quiz the platform puts out becomes an automatic trend on Twitter and that speaks to the space the platform occupies in our culture.
5. Flutterwave/PiggyVest/Twitter: One of the best things about 2020 was witnessing organisations use their power and resources to make a difference. There’s something really interesting about watching companies align to take a stance against injustice and step up where governments are failing. The actions of these three companies presents a turning point with the way that African brands can engage with injustice movements. During the #EndSars protests, Flutterwave kicked things off by making a donation from their team to support the protests and then opening up their platform to help facilitate people’s donations to sustain the protests. Many people don’t know this, but PiggyVest was not only one of the first companies to speak up in support of the movement, they were also the team that gave us the “three-fists” image that became widely used as an emblem in the protests. Twitter, amplified the voices of the Nigerian youth, giving the hashtag its own emoji, verifying frontline protesters and Jack of Twitter lending his voice directly in favor of the movement. I’ll be very keen to see how much audience participation and even new sign ups on Twitter grew during the protest but I’m willing to bet that Twitter saw an explosion in several of its core engagement metrics like volumes of Tweet per user and “per user platform times” from Nigeria.
Next year, we will see more brands with purpose and more brands engage more purposefully but we will remember that these three organisations led the way in doing their bit for the communities they serve.
6. Paystack: In the midst of the protests and with all the tragic realisations that came with it, Paystack’s announcement that they had been acquired by Stripe for +200 million dollars, the biggest exit deal by a start-up company in Nigeria was a moment of deep nationalistic pride.Both the announcement in itself and the timing were impeccably executed, but the embracing of it by Nigerian youth was the real moment. I like to think that the best brand moments take on a life of their own outside of the brand and this moment was a larger than life win for young Nigerians. A win that not only put the Nigerian tech scene on the global map but also was all the validation we needed to remember that the best thing about Nigeria remains its people who continue to bet on themselves in spite of the odds. And the odds are plenty.
7. Basket Mouth: In a year where the traditional way for stand-up comics to make money has been annihilated, Basket Mouth has given us a masterclass in entertainment pivoting– extending his brand from core comedy to musical artistry but retaining the core of his brand identity. What’s even more interesting is how he has successfully extended the finer elements in the album for example the song “Papa Benji” on the Yabasi album to become a web series on YouTube. And do we want to talk about how he has cracked the code of integrating advertising seamlessly into content? He did that with promoting his show last year, with a GTB ad, with Gordons during the pandemic and now with Guinness in his series on YouTube. In an era where most people are ageing like milk, Basket mouth is evolving in this entertainment space like fine wine.
- Nike with the Kamala Harris “We did it, Joe” moment: There are some moments you plan and carefully orchestrate and there are some moments where the stars just align to create marketing gold. The viral moment with a sweaty Kamala Harris making a phone call to President-Elect Joe Biden while wearing a Nike shirt to say, they’d, well, just done it, was perhaps the single most amazing brand moment of the year 2020. Nike has historically positioned itself on the side of progressiveness: standing with Colin Kaepernick and with the Black Lives Matter movement, so this moment, although unexpected and unplanned, was very deserved.
- Burger King’s “Order from McDonalds” Ad: When it comes to brand rivalry, there’s none greater than Burger King and Micky D’s. (well maybe Coke and Pepsi). But with 2020 being the year to expect the unexpected, Burger King delivered an ad campaign urging people to order from McDonalds, KFC, Dominos Pizza, Subway and other industry rivals to keep the fast-food industry alive. With many restaurants asking for help during the pandemic, going in the direction of helping out and standing in solidarity with the competition was a genius move and produced a stunning brand moment for Burger King. Burger King has been known to zig when everyone else is zagging and this clever campaign virtue signalled the empathy and humanity that we’ve seen so much in 2020 and won hearts across the world. It also doesn’t hurt that the share-ability was through the roof with their post earning over 40k shares on Facebook and over 171k likes on Twitter.
Got some brand moments of 2020 you think deserved to make this list? Let’s hear them in the comments. ??