Leveraging Sponsorship Opportunities: A Look At The Players & Pretenders At BBN Allstars


By Jeremiah Agada

Beyond the sponsorship packages – the nairas and kobos….

Each year, globally, billions of dollars goes into one form of brand sponsorship or the other. In 2023 alone, Statista projected that the revenue in the Sponsorship & Advertising market worldwide is estimated to reach a whopping US$0.9bn. It estimates that this segment is expected to experience steady growth with an annual growth rate, also known as the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), of 6.85% between the years 2023 and 2027. Based on this projection, the market volume is expected to reach US$1.2bn by the year 2027.

In Africa, Nigeria, being one of the most vibrant markets on this continent boasts a good chunk of this spend with brands and organisations leveraging various platforms, events, shows, sports, etc., to reach their target audience. Indeed, it goes without saying that sponsorships are a powerful tool for marketers to reach targeted audiences and generate brand exposure. It could also be a very powerful weapon for business as a strategy and the advantages are numerous and can combine to achieve a great Return on Investment for brands and organisations.

Unfortunately, despites its many advantages, not many brands and organisations have learnt the dynamic art and science of effectively leveraging sponsorship opportunities. This is despite the huge millions or in some cases, billions spent on them. In fact, up until the late 1980s, CEO Syndrome where a company sponsors something simply because the CEO is passionate about it, was the main cause of why sponsorships fail. Today’s dynamism ensures that there is so much more than that. While sponsorship decision-making will always have a level of subjectivity, growing accountability to stakeholders and consideration for overall business objectives have resulted in a more professional approach to sponsorship.

The Big Brother Naija Allstars- From the headline sponsors to the fringe advertisers

Though there are no concrete data to show exact figures or spend on sponsorships by brands, speculations always weigh on the heavy side especially with such platforms and shows that generate buzz, as the Big Brother Naija Reality Show. Its latest edition Allstar Edition which ended with the Housemate “Gen Z Baddie” Ilebaye winning the 120 million grand prize of the show, it is speculated among netizens that billions of naira have gone into the show. Organisers of the show, Multichoice Nigeria have lent credence to this speculation by revealing that it invested over 5.5 billion naira in the production of the edition of the reality show.   

As a parallel, the American Super Bowl, which crowns the champion of the National Football League (NFL), boasts an array of high-profile television commercials known as Super Bowl ads. Just like the Super Bowl, Big Brother Naija has become a media, marketing, and social phenomenon marketing event of the year in Africa which brands and individuals look forward to, each year.  In fact, it is safe to say that it is arguably the biggest marketing event of the year, after The African Cup of Nations which holds every two years. For context, between July 19 and September 23, 2020, the ‘Lockdown’ edition of the show generated over 55 billion media impressions, with 7.7 million tweeps (as X, formerly Twitter users are called) posting the word “BBNaija” over 20 million times on that platform alone, excluding Facebook, Instagram and others, according to data from ID Africa.

For the records, not less than 25 brands cutting across the financial, automobile, Home and Personal care, food and beverages, video and streaming sectors, among others, took varying spots of sponsorship for the reality show. Like many of the previous seasons of the show, financial technology brand –  Moniepoint and online trading platform – HFM took up the headline and associate sponsorship of the reality show.

What Experts Say About the brands that ‘stood out’

Kingsley Onwukaeme, a seasoned brand enthusiast and communication professional with over a decade of experience in the African market, has keenly observed how MoniePoint has piqued curiosity from the moment it was unveiled as the show’s headline sponsor. He remarks, “With time, it’s evident that the brand is skillfully using every opportunity to demystify its offerings to a receptive market. It’s no surprise they are outshining other fintech brands in the country, in my opinion.”

MoniePoint now joins the ranks of fintech companies that have taken the spotlight as headline sponsors since the show’s inception. This list includes Pocket by Piggyvest (Season 7, Shine Ya Eye), Abeg (Season 6, Level Up), and PayPorte Global Systems, which held the spotlight in 2017 during the show’s second edition after an 11-year hiatus, as well as the subsequent season. Sports betting giants, Betway (Season 5, Lockdown), and Bet9ja (Season 4, Pepper Dem), have also graced the show as headline sponsors over the years.

While some concerns have arisen about the fate of some of the previous fintech sponsors of the show that have gone into a state that some refer to as ‘oblivion’, Kingsley firmly believes that MoniePoint stands apart. According to him, this distinction is evident in the brand’s strong emphasis on extensive online and offline communication and marketing efforts, resulting in a surge of sign-ups and growing patronage.

Beyond its marketing, Abimbola Ogundiran, a deputy director at Playhouse Communication, emphasizes that MoniePoint has been among the most versatile and prominent brands on the show. He captures the brand’s presence on the show: “MoniePoint has been performing exceptionally well, fully capitalizing on their sponsorship. Their TV commercials have been witty, distinctive, and memorable, building both awareness and brand recall. It’s equally exciting how they seamlessly integrated their brand into the show, such as introducing MoniePoint coins as the sole currency in Biggie’s House.”

As a service brand with no physical products, MoniePoint’s branding efforts within the house, the weekly tasks, the innovative use of MoniePoint coins, and its numerous commercials have set it apart. Kingsley highlights, “MoniePoint ensures that their commercials are anything but dull. They are not only captivating, entertaining, and easy to remember, but the brand also refreshes them before they become monotonous.”

So far, viewers have been treated to a series of engaging commercials, ranging from one featuring the renowned comedian Mr. Sabinus hiding money under his bed, to another with Sabinus and rap sensation Phyno, as well as Timaya’s Car Test Drive, ‘Same Joe’ whose appearance is at variance from the picture he sent to his love interest – with veteran Kannywood and Nollywood star Ali Nuru conveying MoniePoint’s brand message about businesses with distinct account names and another variant of the same commercial with music star Olamide, who humorously referred to his dog as a cat, reinforcing the idea that businesses often do this when their account name differs from the business name. The latest TVC features the humorous Miss Gargantuan who was forced to wash dishes at a restaurant because she lacks a functional bank card.

For years, the show has consistently stood as a playground for brands vying to capture both the eyeballs and pockets of consumers. It’s not just a competition for attention, but also a stage where television commercials battle it out for supremacy. In fact, data from P+ Measurement shows that this year alone, the Big Brother Naija Allstars had an estimated audience reach of 23,275,606. This massive reach shows that the BBN platform has evolved into Africa’s equivalent of the American Super Bowl.

Kingsley’s keen eye didn’t just spot one, but two other shining examples of successful brands that have effectively leveraged their time in the Big Brother House. One such standout entity, according to Kingsley, is the SevenUp Bottling Company (SBC), which has mastered the art of leveraging sponsorship opportunities without explicitly stating it. According to him, SBC’s sponsorship prowess extends across both online and offline r, casting a wide net to engage its target audience.

“Its easy to see SBC’s  brands doing so much without appearing to do so much. From Pepsi to Super Komando and Aquafina, before you talk of the 2Sure brands, the complex landscape of the Big Brother House has SBC brands bestriding it like colossus, capitalizing on the show’s enormous popularity to create a significant buzz around its activities. What truly sets SBC apart is its ability to maximize the value of its assets, continually building new opportunities around the show, particularly during weekends, eviction game shows, and night parties,” he said.

Oghenetega Ewherido, a seasoned communication expert, echoes Kingsley’s sentiment, highlighting that SBC’s consistent success spans different editions of the show. In doing so, according to him, SBC has demonstrated a profound understanding of what it means to effectively leverage brand sponsorship. Their ability to adapt and thrive in this dynamic environment is a testament to their brand’s resilience and relevance.

For Afizat Olowoeshin, a strategy and planning expert with a Lagos based media company, Tecno stands out. She highlighted TECNO’s exceptional ability to capitalize on the massive reach, emotional connection, and authenticity of the reality show to boost its visibility, engagement, and foster a positive association among the show’s dedicated viewers.

“One unique strategy that set TECNO apart was how they utilized their Phantom V Fold device. Housemates were given pre-party information, including the theme, through this cutting-edge gadget, effectively integrating their brand into the core activities of the show. This not only demonstrated TECNO’s commitment to seamless integration but also showcased their innovative approach to product placement,” she said.

She further enthused that Furthermore, TECNO’s strategic use of the Camon 20 Doodle phone to capture moments before and during the party was a stroke of genius. “Housemates were not only thrilled by the device but also spent valuable minutes engaging with it. This interaction provided TECNO with ample screen time, camera focus, and a concentration of the viewers’ attention on their mobile device. By providing the housemates with the one device they were prohibited from carrying into the house, TECNO managed to disrupt the usual dynamics of the show and create a memorable impact.

One other thing that stood out for her was that TECNO’s forward-thinking marketing approach didn’t stop within the confines of the reality show. They effectively leveraged videos and pictures taken during the event and strategically shared them across social media platforms and social media blogs. This multifaceted approach ensured that the brand’s message reached a broader audience and generated significant buzz around their products.

The results of TECNO’s innovative marketing strategy are indeed impressive. With over 2000 organic engagements on social media, it’s clear that they struck a chord with the show’s audience. Additionally, the brand attribution for the Phantom V Fold device increased by 1% through earned media and the housemates’ endorsement.

Experts speak on those they perceived did badly

Contrary to MoniePoint’s performance on the show, experts believe that HFM, formerly HotForex, a multi-asset regulated, licensed global broker, providing trading services & facilities to both retail and institutional clients has been underutilizing its opportunity as the associate sponsor of the Allstar Season. Nsikak Usoroh, a marketing professional with bias for creative advertising says, “I am always frustrated when I see HFM underutilizing their spot on the BBN Allstars stage.

“I mean, I have followed the show since 2017 and I have followed brand activities from tasks, to commercials placement and branding within Biggie’s mansion. Ever since, I have never seen a brand that will contest for, win the associate sponsorship position on BBN and promptly…go to sleep. In my opinion, HFM has shrouded its offerings in secrecy with TV commercials that barely do much in demystifying its offering. Even OctaFX that is not on the show has been better able to do that on its digital platforms.

Like HFM, Flutterwave was last season’s associate sponsor while Patricia also held the position as season 6’s edition while Guinness Nigeria held that position as a gold sponsor in the fifth season. HFM – Common, if you’re going to be a co-sponsor, put in some effort to your TVC. I can’t understand why a brand that is willing to pay so much to be a co-sponsor will be so lazy to the point of using stock footage for their TVC.

So far, the brand has had very few brand tasks in the house, for an associate sponsor, but Abimbola feels that the brand can learn to better maximize its presence on the show by engaging housemates more, giving them wearable merchandise with their branding and capitalize on their branding opportunities within the Big Brother House. “They can do better. They also need to go beyond the ads to engage the housemates.”

Abimbola and Kingsley, concur that Sketchers, a well-known shoe brand, fumbled its sponsorship opportunity on the reality show. The consensus among these experts is that Sketchers failed to establish a meaningful connection with the show’s audience due to their unrelated and off-target advertising campaigns.

According to Abimbola, Sketchers’ misguided approach involved using models and concepts that felt utterly foreign and disconnected from the essence of the show. This strategy, while potentially intended to grab attention, ended up missing the mark entirely. Instead of captivating the viewers, Sketchers’ ad campaigns seemed out of place and failed to resonate with the audience.

The key issue at hand here is the mismatch between Sketchers’ branding and the expectations and interests of the reality show’s viewers. This misalignment meant that their marketing efforts, no matter how attention-grabbing, could not bridge the gap between the brand and the show’s audience effectively.


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