There's a chasm between "I like sleek lip gloss" and "Rita Dominic uses sleek lip gloss". It's a huge difference, like the distinction between a five hundred naira note and a five hundred dollar bill - same figure but their purchasing power is clearly apart.
And so it goes for all beloved brands; things are not the same again - you can't just slam a pretty unknown face to your brand anymore. It hardly does the magic. When we walk pass a Pepsi billboard and see Tiwa Savage holding a bottle, it delivers a huge effect, something that you can't distinctly place but you find out that at the next opportunity to take a chilled drink, you see a Pepsi and you remember Tiwa's smile, you remember all her hits songs, you remember how well she sings, the awards she has won, it all comes to you, and then you reach out and grab a Pepsi -at that moment you are just as big a star as Tiwa!
It works for me all the time; well, not with Pepsi, but some other products like Kanekalon. I never heard of that fibre nor could I even pronounce the name before Stephanie Okereke Linus became the ambassador of the brand. Now I walk into a shop, and everyone is talking Kanekalon like it's their mother tongue! And then there was Onga and Kate Henshaw and all the mothers who dumped Maggi for it! It's amazing the miracle that takes place when a brand endorses a celebrity!
Now imagine if a brand picks up Lynxxx....ah! I'll be getting a piece of whatever that brand is!
As much as I believe the next level is marrying brands and celebrities, mismatches happen all the time, and I imagine that the divorce would be very expensive. I don't know how expensive it was for Starcomms, but what were they thinking when they endorsed Nneka?
I love Nneka, she is an incredibly talented singer; but becoming the brand face for Starcomms was just stretching it a bit too far and totally off course. For one, Starcomms is a regular brand for everyday Nigerians. If you need to endorse a brand that comes affordable and can reach many Nigerians, why would you pick a singer that clearly sings for a niche market? As successful as Nneka is, the average Joe has no idea who she is, so if he is going to make a choice between a Starcomms line and a Visafone for instance, Nneka plays no role in his decision-making. If that's the case then the endorsement is unsuccessful. But I might be wrong, only the figures at Starcomms can defend their choice.
But for some other brands, I have affixed some celebrities that I think would look great in a marriage. See if I'm a good match-maker:
Brand: Indomie/Celebrity: Omawumi
Omawumi is the biggest household female music brand Nigeria has had in the last five years. Her music crosses all strata in society. Indomie achieves just as much in the society - a brand that everyone knows, accepts and recognises. With a theme song from the musician and a well-executed TVC, it will be a match made in heaven!
Brand: Sprite/Celebrity: MI
I was inspired by the Drake and Sprite endorsement in the US. MI is the best rapper in Africa, without diluting his true prowess, MI still reaches crannies in cities that most other rappers and singers can only dream of conquering. Sprite sells itself on being hip, contemporary and cool - all the attributes that rap music endorses; a drink sizzling with swag and the biggest rap artiste known to Africa, their union will birth beautiful children!
Brand: Etisalat/ Celebrity: Djinee
Djinee anchored the One Billion Naira Etisalat game show so well some years back that it was ridiculous for Etisalat not to tie him to one or two of their packages. Djinee is unpretentious, he sounds confident and African without any bogus accent. Etisalat resonates the voice of the ordinary man who just wants to connect to his wife, mother, children, boss and friends for drinks after work. With a musician like Djinee, they will reach places only a celebrity who is grounded and actually sounds like a true Nigerian can achieve with that kind of partnership.
Brand: Guinness/ Celebrity: Eldee
I like Eldee's music but I do not like his personality. Eldee looks through you until someone will mention, "hey Joy is a popular writer..." and that's when he bothers to smile; by then it's too late and assumptions have been built like solid foundation about how cocky he is. But I really like Eldee's prowess as a musician that I think, even with his pointless arrogance, Guinness will look good on him. All these years in music and all these beautiful songs, it will be a shame if he doesn't get that big one in 2013!
Brand: Knorr/ Celebrity: Kefee
Kefee should endorse a condiment, period! Here is an indigenous musician with some of the most soulful home-grown songs; Kefee brings us back to the true essence of why we should be proud of who we are as women, Africans or any other tag that normally would discriminate against a people. She also owns a restaurant -a real African woman she is. From her costumes to her songs, she represents the essence of womanhood. Knorr should yank off that foreign accent from their commercials and affix Kefee's rich and sonorous voice to their brand.
And while we are at it, can I please mention here that some endorsements can be very unconvincing. One of them is Lux: Muna does not use Lux! No matter how hard she robs the soap in the tub it's still so unconvincing, we know it's an act and the marriage is just a sham! I remember when an ointment of some sort endorsed Daddy Showkey... heavens! And does anyone still buy Soulmate hair cream because of Kel? She needs a hit song not an endorsement.