Influencer Marketing, Reputation

Tiwa Savage, Wizkid, Olamide and the risks in brand ambassadorship.

So the country woke up one morning and Tee Billz, the husband of Tiwa Savage, was going to end it all and jump off a bridge. Now, what could possibly drive the hitherto gleeful husband of our very own Beyonce to self-slaughter? Well, for one, it turns out that the mother of Tiwa goes about on a broomstick. And two, Tiwa Savage had apparently enjoyed other mattresses, especially ones belonging to Don Jazzy, Dr Sid and Tu Face Idibia.

Tiwa Savage has, of course, come out swinging. Tee Billz, she says, is a two-faced, two-timing, coke-snorting, irresponsible helpmate, and she’s had it with him.

A few weeks earlier, it was WizKid versus Aunty Linda. The former had a lot of choice words for the later over some image-denting reports on the former by the later on her blog. Mr WizKid (he’s a grown man, ya’ll better recognise) intimated us that 40-year-old Aunty Linda is having such a hard time attracting a mating partner. Aunty Linda had also evidently slept with Mr WizKid’s director amongst other indiscretions. At some point, WizKid threatened to unleash his mean 16-year-old cousin on the blogger.

Miss Ikeji, fearing gruesome death at the hands of the said henchman, promptly reported the matter to the Lagos State Police Command.  The police, being our friends, called for a sit-down.

Me, I’m personally disappointed in Linda for running to the police. I expected that she would simply swat the 16-year-old henchman with her handbag. The boy is just approaching pubescence. She is old enough to be his mother.

Before that, it was Olamide and Don Jazzy.  An artiste on Don Jazzy’s label had won an award an artiste on Olamide’s label had been widely tipped to win. Olamide was not too pleased about this and made his feelings known on stage with some very colourful language. Don Jazzy stoked the fire by asking Olamide to come get the prize car, if that was what ticked him off. Olamide lost it. One thing led to the other and the don was informed he would be remiss if he ever set foot on the Mainland. The street had blood in its eyes. Had to take the intervention of Africa’s richest man for the two celebs to bury the hatchet, thankfully not in each other’s head.

Now, while this celebrity mud-slinging and washing of sordid linen in public may be entertaining to many, it’s bound not to be so amusing for the marketing folks at Procter & Gamble, Diageo, Pepsi, Konga and Etisalat.

Tiwa Savage is an endorser for Pampers and vice versa, Olamide is an ambassador for Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, WizKid advocates for Pepsi and Don Jazzy is the Nigerian ambassador for the Johnnie Walker Joy Will Take You Further global marketing campaign.

When a brand rides the coattails of a celebrity, it takes on an element of risk to its image and reputation.

Take Subway, for instance. In 2015, Jared Fogle, the decade-long spokesperson for the restaurant chain, pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography, amongst other charges and was sentenced to 15+ years in a United States federal prison. Subway expectedly distanced itself from the spokesman.

In 2012, Nivea axed Rihanna as the face of the brand for her famous wardrobe malfunctions, footslogging out of Ashton Kutcher’s house at 4 a.m, throwing up outside of clubs and various other indiscretions.

Said Nivea CEO Stefan Heidenreich:

Rihanna is a no go … I do not understand how to bring the core brand of Nivea in conjunction with Rihanna. Nivea is a company which stands for trust, family and reliability.”

Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pistorious, Tiger Woods…we could go on mentioning celebrities who have been disowned by the brands they pitched for.

While the goings-on with Tiwa Savage, WizKid and others are nowhere near the epic scandals of Fogle, Rihanna and Oscar Pistorius, they still represent sufficient reasons for brand managers to be anxious and start thinking about that risk mitigation plan.

But here’s the thing, and it’s my heretical opinion; Nigerians don’t care about Nigerian brand ambassadors. They don’t influence our behaviour one bit. I’m no more likely to drink Pepsi because WizKid said it was cool than I’m likely to hate Guinness stout because Olamide threatened to off someone on the streets.

Inherent in this apathy of Nigerians to Nigerian brand ambassadors is the belief that the ambassadors are paid to say and do what they say and do. They are basically mercenaries. Plus we are a people with so much self-belief that we believe we can do better than these celebrities given the same opportunity. Nothing special about some of our celebs the sentiment goes.

Now these are very much unsubstantiated views, but hey, it’s my blog and I can write whatever I like. As a matter of fact, I’m even entitled to my own facts. So yea, the only ambassadors we respect are the ones who sit in High Commissions.

So, is brand ambassadorship useless? Far from it. They might be useful in helping a new product gain rapid awareness, for instance. Or if the ambassador in questions does have credibility, might actually rub off positively on brand perception. And well, it does seem that some people actually do fawn on these celebrities. Perhaps I’m too set in my ways.

I leave you with this Chrysler TV spot featuring Eminem. A Detroit-born celebrity pitching a Detroit-made car. Harmony.



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