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Who is Going To Bell The Brand Activation Cat?

Angela Ukara-Makinwa is the Team Lead at Melvic Gold Communications, a leading Experiential Marketing and Brand Activation Agency. Fresh off her successful tenure as the General Secretary of EXMAN, she looks into the soul of current brand activation practices and asks experiential marketing practitioners important questions around how the quality of the consumer engagement can be better improved. Her Thoughts.

Angela Ukara-Makinwa, Team Lead Melvic Gold Communications
"Between the dancing competition and the celebrity walk/stroll; when do we really get to engage the consumer on the benefits and values of the brand?"

They say that it is nice to situate brand engagement in and around the popular cultural nuances and likes of the target audience; who determines what that popular nuance is? you? or what is generally acceptable by a majority of your target audience? does anybody even bother to check? Also, should it be at the detriment of the message that needs to be communicated about the brand? Should it be annoying, distasteful. There seems to be this unsung code that one of such popular nuances is the mix of dance, music & celebrity. You can use music, dance and come off as cool, beautiful and vintage it could also be otherwise.

Between the dancing competition and the celebrity walk/stroll; when do we really get to engage the consumer on the benefits and values of the brand. I was going through the Social Media, precisely Instagram recently and alas there was a live streaming of women (mothers mostly) called up on stage for a dance competition which was more like who can shake her butts more, it wasn’t quite tasteful if you may. I sighed and wondered where and how the brand fits into this, l struggled to find answer to that. The competition was moderated by a celebrity and followers watch the video, laugh or worry about it like l did and more will simply click like – sometimes because they like the celebrity and want her/him to feel loved, but does that translate to offtake for the brand?

A Road Show Activation in Lagos

Music, dance plus a celebrity, slap it on the engagement, live stream, get lots of likes and views and voila! all is suddenly perfect! That seems to convince stakeholders that money is wisely spent, while on the other hand the cost of leveraging that celebrity properly for the benefit of the brand is thrown out of the window. Is there really conversion and switch in favour of brand, do the numbers add up in the long run? These short terms hit and run if calculated may be more expensive than a properly planned, well rounded thematic campaign/activities.

Do all brands really require a dance and shouting show in the open market? I don’t think so. Whose fault is this Agency or client? I will say both, hear me out here. Marketing budget has shrunk considerably over the years, in addition to the perennial settlement issue – something that is rarely talked about even though it has been part of the show for a while. On the other hand, the Agency has bills to pay, overheads, diesel and the big ticket one cost of funds to mention a few. This is not forgetting the economy, the price war, the shrinking disposable income. So, who is going to bell the cat?

This really needs to stop so that we can all truly build brands organically and properly to allow them last and add value to the bottom line. It requires a lot of work, transparency and honesty; just like almost everything Nigeria, we cannot rush through brand building whether from the perspective of Advertising, PR, Experiential marketing, Digital or what have you. We cannot keep short-changing the brand and expect them to be there to pay us and add value in later years. This is not just branding as in products but just about everything we start and hope to grow and see flourish over the years.

It is a new dawn, a new beginning, let’s do things differently and get a different better result! They say that you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.

On a personal note l would like to thank EXMAN – Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria - for the privilege to have been part of the Executive council in my capacity as the General Secretary in the last 2 years. It was a lot of work (I love work lol!), but it was rewarding to both the Association and my humble self and l know that the bit we achieved together as an executive council with Kehinde Salami as President will linger for a while. Am happy to have served!

Angela Ukara-Makinwa is the Team Lead at Melvic Gold Communications.

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