MultiChoice BBNaija: The Power of Bonding Vs Clamour for a Boycott, Few Hidden Lessons
The 5th edition of the popular Reality TV Show, Big Brother Naija (BBNaija) Lockdown edition ended on Sunday 27th of September 2020 with the emergence of Olalekan Agbelese popularly known as Laycon as the overall winner after polling 60%votes to outshine his close rivalry, Dorathy who pulled 21%.
As the winner, Laycon is expected to be awarded N85million worth of prizes after spending 71 days in the Big Brother house.
As expected and just as the previous editions have been greeted with criticism, condemnations and reprove, the Lockdown edition didn’t escape the eagle eyes of critics who see the show as a waste of time and resources while advocating for the ban as it takes the meaningful time of the populace which they ought to have used to settle the unending challenges the country is facing.
Adding to the voices of the critics this time around was the government decision to increase the price of electricity tariff, increase in fuel pump price, surge in prices of food items and most importantly, the strike actions embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU. They admitted that the youth who had dedicated their time watching the BBNaija could have instead championed a revolutionary protest and ask for a better Nigeria.
In as much as people have their opinions, it can also be said that many opinions are based on bias, prejudice and myopic views held by some overzealous religious bigots, the holier-than-thou.
According a lawyer, Mr Tope Adebiyi, the call for the ban is a total blunder by the campaigners who have refused to see beyond their noises but rather chose to be blind to the opportunities the platform provides. In his words, ‘to be honest, I am surprised at the call for the ban, particularly as the reason is quite silly and really subjective
“Who defines what adds value to the society, like any form of entertainment, it comes with choice and no one is forced to watch it”. He said.
The BBNaija which is a brain child of Multichoice since its inception in 2006 has always been a case of national discourse every time it’s aired. The production cost of the Lockdown Season according to the organisers gulped over 1 billion naira compared to the 3.5billion naira recorded last year when they first aired the program in Nigeria and specifically erected a building for the program.
It can be said that Multichoice has played in places that seem difficult for the government to play. The South African company proved to have done its homework, study the target audience and give them the right content to keep them awake even at the dead of the night despite the hardship in the country. As they say, “all work and no play, makes jack a dull boy”.
According to a report by IDAfrica, a Marketing, Media and Technology company, between July 19 and Sep 25, the show generated over 55 billion media impressions, with 7.7 million accounts using the word “BBNaija” over 20 million times on Twitter.
The above indicates that Multichoice understands the strategy of using soft power. In international politics, soft power refers to the ability to attract and co-opt, rather than coerce to shaping the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. The organisers recognised this concept dearly and played the card strategically.
According to Dstv Nigeria, the BBNaijaLockdown recorded over 900 million votes across all voting platforms. By playing the card right, BBNaija creates engaging contents for the audience and leaves them to make decision base on their preferences without force or coercion. No wonder the Big Brother is represented with an imagery eye, to indicate that he sees all and knows how to capture the mind of all.
GOOD PRODUCTS SELL ITSELF, A LESSON TO NIGERIA AS A BRAND:
According to Peter Drucker , “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself”. This narrative fits well to the BBNaija marketing strategy, ridding on the power of social media and content marketing to sell its product to the youth and without hesitation, is received by the larger public.
One may wonder that despite the lockdown, economy situation and even the unemployment rate in the country, the show was able to get the attention of average Nigerian youth and became the subject of discussions on all social media platforms. The reason cannot be far-fetched. Nigeria (in general) and her crème of past and current political gladiators have not lived up to the expectations of the populace. At best, the hope of getting it right can be described as a mirage. In turn, the citizens crave happiness and a soothing relief, BBNaija just cuts it with a sizeable number of the youth population and the young at heart.
According to a second quarter report conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, the Nigeria’s unemployment rate stands at 27.1% indicating that about 21,764,614 (21.7 million) Nigerians remain unemployed.
Many graduates are unemployed in the country and with little or no hope, those who try to survive through self-employment are stressed out as a result unfavorable government policies that thwart their efforts and to mitigate the effect of the hardship, people find solace in entertainment and monetizing their talents to make ends meet.
BBNaija creates an avenue for these youth to explore their creativity, their smartness and talents for the world to see and thereby promote them to the world. This can be seen in the weekly Arena Games in the house, where the housemates are expected to take up creative tasks and at the end get rewarded for successfully completing the tasks.
The platform also becomes an avenue to sell, showcase and promote individual hustle on a larger scale. From the inception of the programme in the country, participants have been students, graduates or people who were into one hustle or the other that need promotion.
Ex-housemates such as Tacha, Mike Edwards, Efe, and Ebuka who now serves as the show host have had boost in their career with various endorsements and business opportunities.
The platform creates an atmosphere of unity in the country using housemates as a microcosm of the diversity in the country. The strategy of camping people from various backgrounds and cultures together for a period of time, works well as it serves as a form of social experiment
The program has been able to bring to fore human frailties and strong points such as love, hatred, gossip, drama, temperament and weakness to the society. For example, Ozo in the just concluded edition was in an ‘entanglement’ with Nengi but the lady couldn’t be bothered. In view of this, viewers cast Ozo as a “weak man”. In another phase, Erica fell in love in Kiddwaya but the latter was not really interested in the relationship. These and many others reflect the society and people can relate with. As housemates begin to spend more time together under the full glare of cameras, even though hidden, they lose consciousness of the recording; take up their true characters and behaviours.
THE BUSINESS ANGLE
Except a charity, every business is set up to earn profit. To achieve that, organisations embark on profitable investments which will in turn lead to return on investment. The BBNaija for the second consecutive year running had sponsorship support from indigenous auto maker, Innoson motors.
At the close of the 4th Big Brother Naija, sponsors confirmed that they recorded better footfalls, made reasonable sales and by extension higher profits while the show lasted. Managing Director, Innoson Motors, Mr. Donatus Okeke, corroborated this during the prize presentation of the car award to the winner. According to him, “the company sold over 100 units of cars for the duration of the show” alone. Likewise this year, Betway Nigeria, one of the headline sponsors scaled up from little above 1000 followers to over 56 thousand followers on twitter. This is an indication that the program connects with the right audience.
A SUCCOR TO THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
Entertainment remains one of the key sectors that generate revenue to the country. According to the Entertainment and Media Outlook report conducted by PwC, the Nigeria Entertainment industry is expected to rise from $4.46 billion in 2018 to $10.5 billion market by the end of 2023. This indicates how huge the industry is and how it has been a major money making sector that investors put their money in large bucks. The sector has been a major focal point for the youth population. No wonder the winner of the BBnaija season 5, Laycon said he came to the show to promote himself and his music.
Popular opinion has emerged on why a sizeable percentage of the youth population are engrossed with the show when others are busy working forgetting that one thing that unemployment gives people is time. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, founder, Flutterwave aptly captured this when he says “a large market of poor people doesn’t have money, but you know what they have in abundance? Time. If you want to make money making people richer – convert their time to money and take a cut”.
During the last year edition of BBNaija, the Managing Director of Multichoice, John Ugbe indicated that the company spent over 3.5 billion on the project and through that it indirectly created jobs for thousands of people. According to him, the show created lots of jobs for people whose skills and expertise were needed to make it successful as the company put together the extensive multi-purpose state-of-the-art studios that were specifically built in 6 months for the programme.
This implies that jobs were created for bricklayers, carpenters, painters, tiller, plumber, interior and exterior designers, stage engineers, sound engineers, make-up artists, and others.
Everyone is a winner in this. “Government cannot provide enough jobs for all citizens and those making job creation possible should be commended” he said.
Mr Adebiyi corroborated this when he says “On a fiscal side, the programme provides job for many people (the production team) as well as increase return for government because people subscribe more to DSTV and that is more Value Added Tax and Company Income Tax for govt.”
In conclusion, Nigeria as country needs to learn from organizations such as Multichoice how to harness her resources, creatively deploy same, to serve an audience (population or citizens) who are convinced on the essence of the brand and have bought into the project.
Amidst the rancorous opposition, if BBNaija can capture the attention of the whole country and rose to become a subject of national discourse, it shows Multichoice is set for a sustainable mission. This is further boosted as the programme year-on-year records sufficiently decent margins for all stakeholders and offers unbeatable prize for the winner amidst rising equity of the platform. The consumers (audience) are not about to heed the call for a boycott, if anything they are captivated into a stronger relationship with the brand even in the near future. The conversation continues
Would it not be right for Nigeria businesses and entrepreneurs to learn from the bonding effect of this annual reality show?