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How Boomerang Havas Africa Has Disrupted Consumer Engagement With Opera News Campaign


By Jeremiah Agada

Opera 6

You may have probably seen people shaking their phones in traffic while patiently waiting for the light to turn green, or shaking it at their office desk, in a meeting or while watching football matches. Be assured, nothing may be wrong with their phones; rather, they could have being participating in the Opera News “Shake It” campaign.

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With the campaign, Opera News launched a built in “Shake” feature where thousands of users of the app were rewarded with gifts items ranging from cars, mobile phones, airtime and vouchers.When users open Opera News, a shake command pops up on the screen, letting them know that they can shake their phones in hopes of winning these prizes.

JørgenArnesen, Global Head of Marketing and Distribution at Opera said on an average, more than 500 thousand people have shaken their phones since the introduction of the campaign. “This tells us how engaged people are with the app and how eager they are to participate to win the big prizes. We wanted to communicate that passion (of football) to our users by rewarding them with amazing gifts in an easy way when using our app.”

So far, three winners have been rewarded with car gifts from the campaign, “We believe that through our shake & win competition we have added value to the everyday life of our users in Nigeria as we gave away more than $125 thousand dollars in prizes,” said Arnesen. “We are also happy to see that we were able to reward more than 300 thousand users in Nigeria, which means that we were rewarding an estimate of 10 thousand people every day. The results speak from itself as we have registered more than 45 million shakes during one month and a half in the country,” he concluded.

These statistics certainly speaks volumes of the impact of the campaign in the mobile app space where downloads is a big parameter in measuring results. the Opera News app unobtrusively ‘stole’ into the Nigerian scene using unconventional means to bring about disruption in the way brands engage consumers, leveraging strongly on the digital media. The extensive use of digital in this campaign is a no-brainer as the number of mobile phone users in the world is expected to pass the five billion mark by 2019 and mobile phone penetration is forecasted to continue to grow, rounding up to 67 per cent by 2019. Nigeria has a sizeable chunk in this as Jumia Nigeria through its third African Mobile Trends report shows that Nigeria recorded over 150 million mobile subscriptions in 2017.

The traction and penetration of the app which is a news aggregator within less than three months, and the level of successes it has recorded has become a compendium of reference on entering new markets or unconquered territories.

Beyond the extensive use of digital to promote the Opera News app, “Shake It” remains one of the most engaging campaigns during the recently concluded Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup in Nigeria, as it also employs the tactical deployment of traditional media-predominantly radio and experiential drives to connect with users offline.

This innovative yet unconventional campaign was carried out by Boomerang Havas Africa, an equally unconventional Through-The-Line Brand and Communication Company led by LanreOyebola, a thoroughbred professional in the Nigerian IMC space with hands-on experience gathered working on iconic brands at VerdantZeal, MediaReach OMD, JWT, CentrespreadFCB and SO&U.

In a chat with Brand Communicator team, Oyegbola gives this insight into the campaign: “Our focus was to achieve one million downloads within three months for the client but ended up surpassing it. As part of our culture, we set out to challenge convention to bring disruption to our client’s business, strategically to drive conversation and get them to react by their patronage.

“Essentially, we just wanted to build the conversation around the fact that Opera which before now is known more for its browser, Opera Mini, is also a ‘news’ companion. Leveraging on the World Cup was a good opportunity to do that as the app is about aggregating stories that the user will resonate with at that time-football. In engaging Nigerians, we found a way to connect them with the Super Eagles, ensured that they are rewarded for brand association and patronage.

“Opera mini has been in Nigeria before the introduction of Opera News long ago. However, getting people to download the app was a struggle initially for the client. What we proposed to them when we came on-board is to take it to a place where phones and people converge in Nigeria and one of such places in Lagos for instance, is the Computer Village at Ikeja.”

Patrick Ubiri who is the Group Head, Media Planning and Strategy for Boomerang Havas, gives further insight: “Introducing the “ShakeIt” feature to the digital aspect of the campaign stemmed from the fact that we needed a reward system in place,something that will motivate people to download the app. To further motivate people, we included a referral system where the referrer and the person being referred get airtime reward and the rest is history.”

Still on the insight, he adds: “One of the insights we gathered going into the campaign is that people spend more time with their phones. We found out also that sometimes, when you are watching a football match and your team is losing, your interest level could be low and frustration could set in. So, we asked, why allowing frustration set in when at that period you can find a worthy diversion, catch fun by shaking your phone to win amazing prizes?”

Interestingly too, the experiential angle of the campaign is likewise disruptive and unconventional. Different viewing centres and bars where World Cup matches were shown had strategically placed banners saying: “Watch World Cup Matches Here Free…Opera News.” This banner dotted every nook and cranny of Lagos as well as other cities to further create awareness and engagement for the app.

ToluAkoyokun, Senior Manager, Buying and Control for Boomerang Havas Africa explains more of the experiential leg of the campaign: “We partnered with selected viewing centres such that when you come to watch matches, you will not have to pay. The carrot we dangled was to ask people to come to watch the matches free and then they download the Opera news app. We also partnered with the owners of some selected bars to buy drinks for people that came to watch the matches.

“Another thing we did was to also take the app directly to where we know people buy mobile devices. We did an on-ground activation at Computer Village at Ikeja where we provided free Wifis to people and got many of them to download the app.”

The impact of the campaign on the Opera News brand has been phenomenal. As at press time, the news aggregator app has had over five million downloads, with Nigeria accounting for a greater chunk of it. It is also the most downloaded standalone news app in Africa and has rewarded more than 500 thousand users for more than one month.

Following the success of the campaign in Nigeria, the client has decided to replicate it in other markets, beginning with Kenya.

A disruptive campaign like this coming from the stables of an agency that is “unconventional” from its name to its operation speaks volume. Boomerang, a tool designed to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight and return to the thrower, paints a vivid picture of what Return On Investment, ROI, should be.

For Oyegbola, the name goes beyond been philosophical or just showing the company’s creative ingenuity. “The Boomerang stick says a lot about who we are at Boomerang Havas Africa. We bring back to you whatever you give us much better and in massive returns. Our approach to work is slightly different because when you give us a brief where you specify we do A, we can go beyond that to do A and add B, C and D to it if necessary to move the client ahead. We are about understanding the value chain and the supply chain to clearly make interventions where it best suits for positive ROI.

The campaign for Opera News had different arms to it and all these were executed by one agency-BoomerangHavas Africa. Does this make it a 360-degree Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) agency? Oyegbola answers in the affirmative but quickly points out: “At Boomerang Havas Africa, we do not see ourselves as an agency. The age-long principle of agency is to earn commission. So, an agent or agency in whatever industry they play, are people who earn commissions for whatever they have been able to broker.

“In other words, the agency with all of its intelligence and brilliance is reduced by that nomenclature as someone that just brokers deals between client and whatever communications outlet-PR, Advertising, Billboard, radio, etc. That, in my view, is limiting because if you look in totality at the offerings we professionals bring in to the table, it is bigger, much more significant and strategic to be reduced to an agency. We describe ourselves therefore as a through-the-line brand and communications company.”

More specifically, Boomerang Havas Africa offers a comprehensive range of marketing communications that include advertising, branding, strategy, activations, media buying and, when appropriate, integrated range of these communication services.

Still, on the company, he says, “we are guided by the core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people. These core values determine the way we approach business, and they define the principles in which we expect our people to behave in the conduct of our business. We run an open-book system that allows for accountability for our shareowners and to our system of internal control.

“Our focus is to be the best at whatever we choose to offer. If we make up our mind to do experiential, we aim to be the best at it. We always aim to give our clients, partners, stakeholders, shareholders, staff and the entire industry the very best at every point in time. The best, I know is superlative but that is where we want to be seen.

“Our mission is that we will challenge convention, and we will continuously do that. If they say this is how things are done, we will ask, why can it not be done differently? Why should we continue to do it that way? As we do that, we keep our focus on the consumer and the brand”

Recently, the company entered a strategic partnership with Havas Africa, the 5th largest communications group worldwide based in France, in a bid to better equip its industry skill sets, manpower, and deliver the best to its clients.

With the development, Oyegbola says the company will leverage its local and continental expertise with Havas Group’s tools and network connections in providing media strategy, media buying and digital marketing, branding, experiential, sports marketing, events solutions and content development for its clients. This is in relation to both firms’ ‘Village’ approach where a one-stop shop for the communication needs of clients is provided.

The partnership also brings together the two well-established communication firms and enhances their collective ability to bring superior service at creating meaningful connections between people and brands through creativity, media and innovation for clients.

Oyegbola added that with the partnership, Boomerang Havas Africa will be able to tap into Havas Group to deliver expertise to businesses in Nigeria from helping brands know where to play, how to play and how they can get the best return on their investment all the way from media, production, content development, design, mobile marketing, digital solution, etc.

He further added that partnership will bring value to media professionals and the industry. “Doors are already opening in terms of employment, training, exposure and cross exchange of talents and upscale of competency of people who will be an asset to the industry.

On impacting the industry, Oyegbola hinted on an academy that will help train younger people coming into the industry. “We are going to have an academy, a programme where we train young people coming into the industry. A couple of them may end up working with us while others may go into the industry, and that will be our contribution to the growth of the industry. We will show them how to do the job and give them the platform to do so too. So, you are showing them, and you are teaching them, and so they are able to get their hands-on, createa portfolio whilst they are within the academy.”

The Chief Executive Officer of Havas Africa, Olivier del Pozo while addressing selected journalists at the signing of the partnership, said that the partnership will allow Havas and Boomerang expand the scope of the services they provide clients. “Today’s consumers are very discerning and have access to platforms at their fingertips. Havas Group is an organisation with massive network base with over 150 countries footing which can make communications to client easy using various resources in bringing people and organizations closer together in simple conversation styles.”

He adds, “Our decision in choosing Boomerang as our partner in Nigeria was as a result of 5+ years critical analysis of the industry in finding the best partner with the full package of deliverables of Havas Group. Having been following Boomerang closely from its inception, we firmly believe Boomerang is a top tier firm of integrity and innovation that will take its rightful place amongst the other Havas agencies. Today, we can say that we are comfortable and confident with Boomerang to be our partner. This is our eyes and ears in Nigeria.”

Although Oyegbola declined comments on the clientele base of the young company, he, however, said that some of the businesses of Havas Africa, its partner domiciled with some agencies in Nigeria and shall be transitioning to the company with time. Among the roll call of Havas Africa’s clients in Nigeria at different levels are Emirates, Total, Peugeot, Nivea, Ecobank, among others.

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