NET EXCLUSIVE: MTN splashes N500m on endorsement deals
By Osagie Alonge
MTN Nigeria may have spent up to a whooping N500m in the last 16 months on brand endorsement deals and related campaigns, according to investigations by Nigerian Entertainment Today.
MTN Nigeria is the biggest spender in the market, but this is the first time they’re spending heavily on brand endorsements – an area hitherto monopolised by competitor Globacom.
In a pleasantly- surprising switch in policy, the telecoms giant is handing out ambassadorial roles to some of the biggest pop artistes in the country, organizing competitions and shooting award deserving TVCs.
What’s responsible? A strong determination to survive the Mobile Number Portability war, which pundits say is, for most of the players in Nigeria’s lucrative telecoms sector, a ‘do or die’ affair.
MTN has the largest subscriber base in a market that is apparently very juicy. But the coming of MNP presented competitors like Glo and Etisalat an opportunity to close the gap.
MTN threw out their first endorsement deal in April 2012 when they hired the services of then 19-year-old Pop singer Davido as the ambassador for ‘MTN Pulse‘, a new marketing campaign for Nigerian youths called ‘MTN Fun Link‘. The deal was reportedly worth N30m.
It took 13 months for the next set of endorsement deals to come, this time to three past winners of Project Fame, a show solely sponsored by the telecoms company. Singers Iyanya (N40m), Mike ‘iMyke’ Ayansodo (N10m), Chidinma (N20m) and another vibrant contestant Praiz (N20m).
The deal came shortly after MTN had poached actor Hafeez ‘Saka’ Oyetoro who made a famous move from another telecom company Etisalat, in a sensational deal reportedly worth N25m.
MTN then went on an endorsement spree – signing on some of the biggest contemporary Nigerian artistes – Wizkid (N45m), Tiwa Savage (N30m), KCEE (N25m) and later on Don Jazzy along with younger brother D’Prince.
‘It was a good feeling getting endorsed by one of the biggest telecommunication company in Africa when my carrier as an artist was just picking up. I didn’t even have an album back then‘, Pop singer Davido who extended his endorsement deal this year tells NET.
It looked like a full swoop from MTN but Nigerian tech buffs will tell you that the move from the ‘Yello!’ team is reminiscent of a recent move by another telecoms company – Globacom.
‘You see, GLO made a full swoop, signing close to 10 relevant contemporary acts in just one week and played it up‘, Sola Fanawopo of Financial Technology Magazine tells NET.
‘Just imagine if GLO had offered Iyanya or Chidinma or Praiz irresistible, mouth-watering deals? It would be ‘Saka saga’ all over again‘.
MTN however stepped it up – delving into other multi-million Naira projects, the most publicized of which is the recent ‘MTN Songstar Competition‘, offering subscribers a chance to win a brand new Porsche Cayman worth about N10.4m and a recording deal with Don Jazzy (worth about N10m also).
The competition allows users to download an app ‘MTN Songstar’ which enables subscribers convert their mobile phones into a digital karaoke machine. The cost of building an app (this includes brainstorming and strategy development, prototype design, programming and development, quality assurance and testing and finally, marketing and promoting) N4.5m. The app, MTN says will be delivered on six different platforms. Doing the math, this totals into N270m.
With this huge investment, experts are wondering if there’s guaranteed ROI in a market as unstable as Nigeria.
‘In as much as this helps the lives of Nigerian artistes and their respective labels, these companies will surely be getting their money back, maybe on the long run’, President, Association of Music Artiste Managers of Nigeria (AMAMN), Sijuade Adedokun tells NET.
The General Manager, Consumer Marketing at MTN Nigeria, Kola Oyeyemi seems to have a more direct answer to that question. ‘No brand is a charity and if you think it’s a charity then you have to think again. When a brand engages in anything, they try to see what value is coming to them either in direct sales benefit or visibility and attractiveness of association‘, Oyeyemi said in a paper presented at the inaugural edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference held April, 2013.