As individuals and brands continue to ride on the Super Eagles' victory to herald competitive advantage, Raheem Akingbolu takes a look at the relationship between the team and its official sponsors, Guinness Nigeria, which culminated in a rousing welcome party organised for the players in Lagos
The success of the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the just-concluded Orange African Cup of Nations has suddenly turned the once-abandoned brand to a symbol of unity and tool for positioning for many brands.
But for Guinness Nigeria, a brand that threw its weight behind the team when most Nigerians didn't see it clinching the trophy, the victory must have created a fresh bond between it and consumers.
Unexpectedly, the equity of Super Eagles' brand shot up after it was cleared that it would make it to the final stage. At that stage, scores of Nigerians, especially brand owners took a u-turn and rose up to be counted with the team. Having been with the team before the tournament began, Guinness literally stole the show in both Nigeria and South Africa through its passionate commitment.
This is not however peculiar to the Nigerian market; it is a global trend for brands to align with exciting brands to make positioning statement. Two global brands that have successfully used such platform to win loyalties are Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Since 1950, Coca Cola has dominated the advertising space at every FIFA World Cup. Though it was not a new terrain for Pepsi, having at different occasions identified with music and sports to boost its global image, as the official beverage for AFCON, it leveraged on the event to further expound its frontier across Africa.
Prior to the tournament, Guinness had launched Fly with the Eagles campaign, with which it galvanised millions of Nigerians to rally round the team. Given the fact that promotion exercise had in the past been abused by many organisations, the announcement that the campaign would come with a promo through which 200 consumers would fly with the team to South Africa was not taken seriously.
But surprisingly, the company didn't only keep the promise; it went further by initiating various activations that were meant to electrify Nigerians while the tournament lasted. One of such activation was the unveiling of the biggest jersey, which was taken round the major cities for endorsement, goodwill messages and appending of signatures by Super Eagles' fans.
The high point of the promotional exercise was the welcome party the company organised for the team, which began with a tour of Lagos six days after the trophy was won.
It was indeed a marvellous moment for members of the team at the Guinness Headquarters, Oba Akran, Ikeja, Lagos, as they presented the trophy to the Managing Director, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Seni Adetu, before they headed to the Lagos State Government House, where they were hosted by Governor Babatunde Fashola.
While receiving members of the team, Adetu congratulated the Eagles on their heroic feat despite doubt in some quarters on the capabilities of the team to do well prior to the commencement of the tournament.
According to Adetu, Guinness had at no point doubted the Super Eagles resilience and strong determination to counter the challenges before them at the tourney in South Africa, because "Guinness believes the team is made of more."
Commenting on the 'Fly with the Eagles' campaign, the Marketing and Innovation Director, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Austin Ufomba, said it was indeed a successful campaign. According to Ufomba, Guinness has been vindicated for throwing their weight behind the Eagles despite the challenges faced by the team.
"What more can we ask of a team that many did not give any chance of making it beyond the group stage at the tournament let alone winning the trophy? However, at Guinness, we believed in the team and we demonstrated it when we launched the 'Fly with the Eagles' campaign at a grand occasion in November 2012. We prepared the ground for the over 160 million Nigerians to rekindle their support for the team," Ufomba said.
The leader of the delegation representing the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Mike Umeh, while presenting the trophy to the Guinness Leadership Team, appreciated the company's support for the team.
"At a point, we were like orphans, nobody seems to believe in us, but Guinness did. Guinness stood by us and kept on encouraging us and that motivated us at the tournament. We were glad to see fans from Nigeria who came to support us while we play, it was awesome. We thank the Guinness team for this gesture and promise never to let them down" Umeh said.
As things are, the risk taken by Guinness has turned into a fruitful adventure. With this development, pundits believe that its ability to leverage well on the success may affect its bottom line positively.