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Big Brother Naija and the CeeC factor

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For 85 days, Nigerians were treated to the best of reality TV entertainment from #BBNaija Double Wahala – the brainchild of Nigeria’s leading cable television platform, MultiChoice.

Everyone and their mothers-in-law were glued to their television sets and on their favoured social media platform, actively invested in the lives of 20 housemates competing for a grand prize of N25million cash plus other prizes.

Last year, it was Warri born rapper, Efe who captured the minds of viewers with his grass to grace story and his Pan-African everyman appeal. This year what viewers got was a drama filled, tensioned-soaked edition that kept viewers from Nigeria and abroad glued to the seats with hands ready to post their observations on social media.

With each edition of the reality show gaining traction and followers on diverse platforms every year, I think it is worth noting the elements which guaranteed the success of Big Brother Naija and what brands can learn from it.

Give customers what they want: It’s common for content creators and brand promoters to assume they know exactly what the customers want without doing due diligence to confirm their exact need. Most of them however find out right in the middle of a campaign that their content or deployment strategy – as the case maybe – is missing the mark and failing to gain traction, but by this time it is most likely too late to salvage the situation.

To avoid stories that touch as we say, it is important that we listen carefully to the customers/clients, ascertain their needs, and tailor product/services to suit their need.

What the Big Brother Naija organizers did was to make it a duty to listen attentively to social media chatter with a view to growing the brand. They doubled-down on the show that focuses directly on their Nigerian audience with the simple idea that viewers from other African countries will catch on. This strategy resulted in a continent-wide buzz that is almost unprecedented.

Social engagement and votes for the housemates came from all parts of the continent with Nigerians in the diaspora also getting in on the game. The outcome of this strategy was months of immersive entertainment and value for money.

So the lesson is simple; find out the exact component of your value chain which pulls all others success factors along and give it all you’ve got.

Be ready to explore: Most brands operating in Nigeria enjoy the allure of achieving virality on the scale of Big Brother Naija but very few are willing to push the boundaries in conceptualizing and executing available ideas. It’s not uncommon to present amazing plans and ideas to clients and receive a response that essentially tells you they would rather prefer to stay in their comfort zone while doing everything they can not to rock the boat.

To get viral execution, brands need to be ready and willing to break the lure of the familiar and experiment in directions that might have not worked for others. That is the only way viewers will remember your campaigns and relate with your product or service on a personal level.

Following the outbursts which trailed the Big Brother team’s decision to air events that occurred during the show’s infamous shower hour without warning housemates, organizers were responsible enough to respect viewers’ wishes by removing that aspect of the show while retaining a few others to maintain a fine mix of high-end entertainment and ethical programming.

Content is still king: Yes, we all want to poke our noses into other people’s businesses – listen to their gossip, discuss their sex lives, know who they have romantic feelings for, watch their fights and arguments, and generally just be in the know of events and decisions we would naturally not be privy to – that is exactly what we got from Big Brother Naija – drama unlimited.

Big Brother Naija housemates like CeeC and Tobi got the attention of viewers and retained it for weeks on end as a result of their volatile romantic relationship. Teddy A and Bambam, Alex and Leo, Nina and Miracle, were each cast through a careful curation of their shining moments in the Big Brother house as complex, flawed but fascinating individuals. Each person quickly gained an impressive following on social media, as Big Brother’s masterful curation made it almost impossible for the audience not to take sides with their characters. By the end of the show, viewers had turned into raving fans and show promoters thereby further establishing the #BBNaija franchise.

Watching the show reminds one of the excitement and passion which followed Nigerian popular soap operas and movies such as Super Story, Tinsel, Hotel Majestic and Mo Abudu’s The Wedding Party.

Get yourself a CeeC: Call her wicked, proud, aggressive, and haughty, but it’s a fact that most of us stayed glued to the Big Brother Naija reality TV show because of 25-year-old housemate, Cynthia Nwadiora.

Her strength of character and openness to express herself without filters clearly turned out to be the quality that attracted many viewers to her. Loved and hated in equal measure, CeeC appeared to have a gift to draw extreme emotions from anyone who encountered her. Her opinionated exchanges were a polarizing factor in the house and an endless source of entertainment for viewers. Little wonder she kept getting high votes week after week in-spite of her antics in the house and attempts by other housemates to get her evicted.

It is important to put up a well-scripted show with excellent creativity like the one we just witnessed in Big Brother Naija but only a character like CeeC’s can get that show to become the top worldwide trend on two separate occasions. You will get the traction alright, but getting over 170million viewer votes in 85 days and 30million votes in the last week of the competition needs characters capable of stirring an audience like Miss Nwadiora.

If you want to get people talking, then you may need to get yourself a CeeC – she’s indeed not on anybody’s level.


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