Octagon Rooms

The Brand Ambassador / Influencer Dilemma

Posted on: July 25th, 2016 by The Moderator 8 Comments

Chuka: I think the first thing is knowing what brand ambassadorship entails in this market. Is it for truly influencing people to adopt your product, is it just for brand association, is it just for bragging rights?

Eddie: I am not speaking from an idealist stand point . Yes I defer to you that most brand influencer campaign don’t work because the wrong influencers are picked. Doesn’t mean the approach doesn’t work when applied properly.

Bayo: Oh I know it can work Eddie. But is it working? That’s why I referred to your statement, right as it is, as idealistic

Tayo: @Wale some people have the same contracts with non ambassadors so I don’t think they even need to have them as ambassadors to get that deal.

Wale: @Tayo, an ambassador can also be an influencer.

Tayo: Wale in the online space, not really. We have to separate them for several reasons. I think what is killing Nigerian Brands is the bandwagon effect as mentioned earlier.

Eddie: The question is “why isn’t it working in some cases”?

Chuka: Is it for talkability, is for all of the above? When you choose a brand ambassador, do you have a set idea and specific goals that that ambassador will help you achieve? I think that apart from “looking hip/cool/trendy/in tune with the times” and the other no-brainer benefits, many brand ambassadors in Nigeria are just the beneficiaries of an industry-wide pissing contest epidemic.

Bayo: I was gonna say, and real quickly, MTN and Etisalat are making good money from their ambassadors. I, for instance, could have told a number of the big guys that some of the guys they’re jumping in bed with are only in it for the money

Tayo: It’s not working because they are not used properly. It’s like using a shovel to eat. (forgive my analogy.)

Wale: I mentioned that earlier but is it really down to the choice of the ambassadors?

Eddie:I have worked on a number of campaigns where the Brand ambassador route worked and those were real case scenario that’s why I don’t think it’s idealistic. Like tayo said it’s the band wagon effect reason that’s the true culprit and quack agencies that don’t Have any understanding about the market place doing trial and error . That’s the true culprit not like it’s a flawed concept .

Eze: The truth is I personally don’t believe the ambassador format has worked in Nigeria until date. And the issue starts with the companies themselves. You “hire a face/brand” but then no proper strategy is developed to integrate the ambassador into the business plan and marketing strategy

Toks: Those are two brands mostly that do it right, I think. Mtn and Etisalat.

Eze: Even they don’t leverage properly

Wale: Can I just say though that from experience, choice of brand ambassadors hardly comes from agencies. Mostly brand managers, Senior management and CEOs

Tayo: It’s mostly brand managers deciding. Agencies suggest but…Ambassadors need to be part of the whole process.

Toks: Spot on, Tula. Oga-at-the-top syndrome. “Oga’s daughter is a fan of Wizkid, so it must be Wizkid”

Bayo: Ambassadors need not be a part of strategy unless they insist

The Octagon: What are the failure points of this brand ambassador approach and should ambassadors be part of the strategy crafting exercise instead of just implementation?

Tayo: Again, saying that it is working depends on why they were hired in the first place. Will Genevieve make me buy an Etisalat line? NO. Ambassadors need to be part of the whole process. One failure point is the brand fit. Does Don Jazzy fit Loya Milk?

Wale: hahaha.. That Don Jazzy pick.. Epic failure.

Chuka: But didn’t Jazzy know he was a poor fit for Loya? Yet he took the deal. Shows that he’s in purely for the money

Eze: Brand ambassadors need to be a part of the strategy development process. That is the only way to make sure that brand ambassadors (and their content) are leveraged properly.

Eddie: I think ambassadors serve their purpose better at the implementation stage.

Tayo: @Eddie, yes they do. However it is important to note that this is a symbiotic relationship so as much as the ambassadors are bringing to the table, the brand need to bring too, not just money.

Wale: Im not quite sure about brand ambassadors joining in strategy crafting. Not to sound (insert word) but have you sat down with some of our so called celebs

Toks: I agree, Eze. An example of good integration is Falz. You see his ads and hear his voice overs and you just know he was a part of the scripting.

Bayo: Most of the brand managers do not even understand talent in the first instance

Wale: It’s really about the $$$ for most of them. Falz is a major exception. So why not just do the hard bit and call them to implement. Let the agencies work hard for they cut throat retainers. And it’s been like that for ages with DDB and MTN.

Eddie: I agree. However, If the product/campaign isn’t right , even the most influential brand ambassador can’t make it fly.

Chuka: Falz was picked by me for MTN and the fit is undeniable. The problem is a lot of the brand custodians themselves have no clue what use these men should bring to the table and what they should not. They give each other contracts based on friendship and famzing- ambassadorships included. I can’t how many times guys walk into that office and they’re brokering deals all because of star power and friendship. Purpose is a word that they seem to never consider

Bayo: Chuka, it’s what I’ve been saying. Guys, Chuka is a rapper. He understands the skill is undeniable. Most of these other guys are there to famz and collect kickback, to take selfies. I’ve been in several meetings where it is apparent neither the brand not the talent know why they are sitting at that table. But there is money to be shared. So hey…

Tayo: @Wale, why I’d say the ambassadors should be involved is not so they can come to strategize but so that they can fully say all they can bring to the table. I know a brand currently struggling with monetizing one of their ambassadors right now. But I feel if he was brought to the table and asked what he could offer, they won’t have that problem

Toks: Then there are those ambassadors that come up with the initiative and bring it to the brands eg D’banj.

Chuka: I’m all for those who come up with initiatives and bring to the brand. At least you see they have put some thought in. It’s now up to the brand managers to put emotions aside and objectively evaluate if this idea presented is a for with the DNA of the brand

The Octagon: The reach and popularity of these ambassadors and influencers is clearly the deciding factor for the brands. Should this be the case and how can brands get data driven feedback to show their money is well spent.

Bayo: Reach and popularity is quite important, no doubt. But I do not think that should be the be-all end-all. A marriage of convenience could work: Your talent and our money.

Tayo: The reach is important for influencers, maybe not popularity as such. Brand managers keep asking for numbers for influencers, but when you are dealing with a niche market, you can’t get influencers with great numbers. Even the impression is hard to track. Will you tell the ambassadors to send you a screenshot of the analytics of their tweet? What I do now is to create custom links I share with influencers and ambassadors, so I know who is bringing what to the table.

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8 Responses

  1. Man! My brain wants to blow up! As a small business owner, I think a CEO is supposed to understand every single aspect of his business, from profit/loss statements to how many satchets of Omo it takes to mop his office floor. And my mind has been opened up to the inner workings of digital marketing (crucially)in a Nigerian context.
    Good one, guys!

  2. Adeyemi says:

    Hello house, you guys put up a great conversation filled with fantastic insights. My take away includes brand fit and be careful of copying strategy. It seems people don’t want to do the hard work. Asking some clients deep questions as to why a customer should buy what they sell make them feel somehow. No market research done, no customer insight. But you are to strategize and sell.
    Guess you guys could help answer this question someday: as a digital marketer, how do I sell product I don’t know to people I don’t know?

    • Eddie Madaki says:

      Hello Adeyemi.

      The answers to your questions are actually embedded in your comment, research and market analysis. To complete a sale, your product must fill a need to your target market . So complete understanding of said product is key, next your communications / marketing strategy must appeal to your target market on an emotional level , convincing them off your value preposition, here is where in depth market research comes in. Identify creative ways to over come potential cultural , religious, socio-behavioural trends with that community or target demographic that may impede your campaign. This you can achieve by running your marketing strategies through focus groups, A/B testing as referenced in our discourse, using locally recognised and respected personalities to introduce your offerings etc. Most importantly monitor feedback and modify your sales strategy as need be. Marketing is quite organic so it’s important to make small changes along the way to make for a more persuasive product pitch. Understand the product and position for worst case responses to how it’s recieved, research your target market and communicate values over generic advertising and mentions. Hope this helps.

  3. Klaze says:

    Highly informative and I really like the tone of conversations here but then if i may lend my thoughts on Bayo’s rhetorical question on women buying pampers because of Tiwa or Pepsi because of wizkid I would like to share my personal opinion concerning that, ..umm I stand to be corrected but I believe there are women that actually buy pampers because of tiwa savage or at least have renewed confidence in the brands ability to upgrade and keep up with younger and new generation motherhood, sure it myt not be the average mother and I know there are better and more trendy brands than pampers now but then with Tiwa’s image reckoning with the brand I believe it also gives it if not an edge at least an equilibrium with newer brands and helps create the impression that pampers is not old school yet (or should i use the word obsolete) its still trendy .. “Tiwas uses it” trust me mild variables like dis reflect on sales even if its 10 or 15% higher than it woud have been if they dint make effort to connect with younger generations, as for Pepsi, there was a time when i would not be caught dead with pepsi or any of their brand in public due to the stereotype on it being a substandard version of coca cola, Wizkid’s affiliation might not necessarily make me a Pepsi regular (Of course my favourite sodas still remain Cocacola and sprite) but at least am not shy anymore about associating with the brand and of course when faced with the choice of purchasing Pepsi at an event or an outdoor party i would do so and even stroll around with the brand in hand.. so yes in my personal opinion the choices on brand ambassadors for both pampers and pepsi respectively were not misguided i believe they actually influence sales on both product, but then what do i know, Y’all are the pros and of course ” I stand to be corrected.”
    But I really appreciate this platform theres so much to learn here and the interactive set up just makes it so interesting Lol ‘Regards

  4. Bunni says:


    I’ve once bought Loya Milk because of Don Jazzy.

    Iyen tu nko?

  5. San Weaven says:

    I sincerely enjoy this platform, but,there are every limited people that are aware of this type of platform.

  6. Gidyon Thompson says:

    I really appreciate your effort in engaging thought leaders in solving basic market, economic and social political issues .

    As part of my final year project is to research on the relationship between brand endorsement by celebrities and patronage. Truth be told, what may have worked for company A maynot work for company B. We know that people model their behaviors based on role models and thats the hinge of using brand ambassadors for a brand. But the real sense is, can you effectively transfer the clout of a particular ambassador into real customers for your brand?
    It goes beyond advertising! That’s the big question.

  7. Subomi says:

    Whatever advertising strategies are put in place need to align with brand essence and appeal to the emotions of the target market. In Nigeria today, it just seems the norm to sign up a popular face as a brand ambassador whether or not the individual in question depicts what the brand stands for “the bandwagon effect”.

    If you must have an ambassador, then it needs to be tactically done; some brands have done this successfully while some see it as a jamboree and just have a clutter. when done right, it would positively influence the perception of the consumers.

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