As part of its strategic plans to strengthen the acceptability of its new brand name and deepen the influence of the brand in the market, 9mobile, (formerly Etisalat), plans to hire a new Adverting and Public Relations firms to handle its PR brief. The business currently resides with Chain Reactions, a Lagos based PR firm.
According to a source within the company, the decision became necessary following the new development in the company and the need to breathe a new life into the brand. The source however stated that the plan has nothing to do with the performance of the existing agencies on the account.
"It is natural for businesses to review their activities and with the latest development at 9mobile, especially as it concerns its restructuring and rebranding, we think it is strategic for us to look for new ways through which we can further entrench the brand in the market. In fairness, all our existing partners, including Public Relations and creative agencies have performed wonderfully well but the decision becomes necessary to refresh the brand," the source told THISDAY.
Etisalat, as it was formerly known was established in 2008 as a private company, by Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services (EMTS), and owned by Mubadala and Etisalat Group. In 2011, the company launched a super-fast broadband network to the Nigerian population. All along, everything was believed to be alright with the company until recently when it found itself in a financial mess, following its inability to fulfill financial obligation to its former partner.
At its entry point nine years ago, Etisalat had engaged C&F Public Relations, perhaps because of the fantastic work the Nn'emeka Maduegbuna's agency did on the MTN brand when it was first launched in Nigeria. Few years later, the account moved to The Quadrant Company after a keenly contested pitch that involved the agency and others.
For its Advertising business, the telecom company, at the beginning, worked with 141 worldwide but later gave part of the business to Centerspread Grey. Few years ago, Centrespread pulled out of the business and a substantial part moved to X3M Ideas, led by Steve Babaeko. For Babaeko, it was considered a familiar terrain, having worked on the account while serving as Creative Director at 141 Worldwide.
However, since the news filtered in, not a few analysts have condemned the timing of the proposed pitch because of the imminent transition and need for new investors. To those who share this sentiment, the company ought to continue with the existing agencies, who understand the heritage of the brand.
However, to another school of thought, the decision to change hands can be described as the best option. According to the Chief Executive Officer of GO Media Ideas, Mr. Gani Olowu, "Since there have been change in management and identity, it is natural for this to cascade to other areas of the brand management and marketing. Besides, we should not rule out the place of emotional connection between the brand and its stakeholders and this will influence a lot of things," he said.