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Help! Our brands are promoting laziness

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Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management, and Author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding

It is no longer news that you don’t need to work hard to become rich in Nigeria. There are now many options to work, as a way of becoming rich. Thanks to our brands and their lazy managers. Brand building is now little more than throwing millionaire promos at your customers at least once a year. It’s very simple. Just cook up one easy scheme that promises to turn your customers into millionaires. Then give it one catchy name. And there you are! Sales target will be met.

Lucozade recently launched a N200million instant airtime promo. To win, all you need to do is drink Lucozade Boost. While you can win N1million in the McVities Digestive Biscuit Promo, you might have missed out on the option of easily pocketing N10million daily in the Etisalat Easy Millions Promo. Apparently, the easy millions didn’t do the magic of keeping Etisalat out of bankruptcy. Unable to meet its financial obligations, the brand had since gone under and is now rebranded as 9Mobile under new ownership.

Startimes offers what is described as ‘another amazing opportunity to become a millionaire’ as it offers N1million to be won every week. You must be salivating at the thought of winning N5million in the Knorr Taste Quest promo. And Haier Thermocool is asking you to ‘step up’ with N3million in its Step Up Promo. And according to Access Bank, you can become a proud landlord with just 300 thousand naira.

Between the brand owners and their advertising agencies, there is a rabid conspiracy to completely erase the virtues of hard work from our psyche. However, they are not alone in this conspiracy. There are too many things going on around us, which create the belief that you can become a millionaire without working hard for it. The churches are telling us that you can get a miraculous breakthrough. The banks are telling us that you can become a millionaire by simply leaving a token amount in your account for 90 days. The telecoms companies are telling us that you can become a millionaire by simply topping up your phone. The betting companies now rule the airwaves. And of course, our political terrain is populated by ex-paupers whose only claim to riches is the office they or their friends occupy. How can we forget Big Brother Naija, which has shown us that by simply staying indoors for three months, without doing any work, you can walk away with N45million? All around us is the deafening din of the persistent message that becoming a millionaire has little or nothing to do with good old fashioned hard work!

The hungry quest for short cuts to riches has become the norm and true wealth creation has been overtaken by a culture of indolence. Where brands are supposed to focus on value creation, the emphasis is now on get-rich-quick schemes and scams. The social responsibility of promoting the best values in the society has long been abandoned by brand managers. In its place, we now have a perpetuation of laziness and deceit. Our poverty-stricken masses, desperate for breakthroughs now spend their entire lives trying one get-rich-quick program after another. And they never run short of options. These promos are the anabolic steroids brand managers now rely on, to give their brands temporary superficial growth. Once the injection of promo runs its course, they are soon cooking up another one. Meanwhile, brand loyalty is being eroded as customers constantly jump from one brand to another depending on which one is running the most attractive promo. The hard work of constant value creation which translates to wealth creation and customer loyalty is being jettisoned for the more attractive get-rich-quick promos.

Sadly, these people do not realise how much damage they are doing to our nation. When you constantly reinforce the message of easy riches, it erodes the time tested values of painstaking value creation, which is the surest way to true wealth creation. These promos, ironically actually deepen the widespread poverty in the nation. The rate at which our banks and telcos run get-rich promos, makes me want to ask their regulators if they have swapped their operating licenses for lottery licenses. I know that in the 90s, banks were not allowed to run promos and raffle draws. I don’t know why CBN relaxed the rule and eventually opened the floodgates for all these irresponsible promos, thereby turning our banks to casinos.

Brand managers are fast yielding to the pressure arising from competitive activity. If Bank A launches a promo, other banks respond with theirs. This also happens in other sectors. And soon, strategic brand building is replaced with promos. Emphasis shifts from strengthening a brand’s unique selling point as a sure way to gain and sustain competitive advantage. It’s now about whose promo is more attractive especially in turning people to instant millionaires. And when the desire for instant riches is not fulfilled through these promos, people seek other means to make it happen. If it is not the endless series of religious events promising miracles, it is MMM, or 419. The mad quest for easy riches is killing our society. Unfortunately, brands are fuelling it with their silly and deceptive promos.

Of course, this is not to say that promos are not useful. They certainly have an important role to play in the brand building process. When used appropriately, promos can help build brand equity and loyalty. A good promo should reinforce the essence of your brand and increase bonding with consumers. However, get-rich-quick promos do not in any way reinforce the essence of banking, which is about value creation, wealth creation and preservation of wealth. Banking should underscore the value of hard work, because as the saying goes: a fool and his money are soon parted! I would like to call on the relevant regulators, CBN, NCC, etc, to please discourage all these stupid get-rich-quick promos. They are destroying our society, eroding our values and promoting laziness!
• Muyiwa Kayode is CEO at USP Brand Management and author, The Seven Dimensions of Branding. Brand Nation is a platform for promoting national development based on the universal principles of branding.


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