NET SPECIAL REPORT: Nigerian Banks to spend billions on entertainment

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By Victoria Ige and Osagie Alonge

Zaina, Tolu, Ice Prince, Timi Dakolo, 2Face, Waje, Banky W and Praiz at LLAM concert
Zaina, Tolu, Ice Prince, Timi Dakolo, 2Face, Waje, Banky W and Praiz at LLAM concert , February 2013. Photo: BHM

For many years, it was the abandoned child. But now, Nigeria’s entertainment sector is getting more than enough attention from left, right and centre.

Still without the necessary stuctures, and a system that can help it exploit opening opportunities, the entertainment scene is grabbing a huge share in marketing budgets, as many big spenders continue to realise the importance of using fashion, music, movies and the power of celebrity, to reach customers in different segments, especially the youth demography.

Telecoms companies like MTN, Etisalat, Globacom and Airtel have long perfected a profitable relationship with entertainment; same for FMCG companies like Unilever, NB PLC, Guinness, Coca Cola and Pepsi. But there are new entrants – the banks – warming up to play on a bigger scale and rip all the dividends on offer.

According to investigations by Nigerian Entertainment Today, 2013 total spend on the sector, by the banking industry – a sector that’s just beginning to open up its wallets to entertainment -will be in billions of Naira.

The relationship between corporate Nigeria and advertising has moved from buying sponsorship or advert slots on shows and programmes, to property acquisitions, title sponsorships, and brand generated initiatives.

So, gone are the days of  Benson & Hedges concerts, Sunday Rendezvous (Sponsored by Coca-Cola Nigeria), and all the primetime TV adverts more popular than the national anthem (remember ‘Joy Girl’?).

When the private telecoms companies arrived in the early 2000s, they immediately spotted new opportunities and went full throttle; throwing sponsorship and endorsement deals (worth hundreds of millions) not just to music shows and entertainment establishments but also to individuals – while the likes of MTN rolled out with big budget tours in school campuses and towns, GLO handpicked those they believed were influential entertainers and made them brand  ambassadors.

It’s a fantastic strategy; while one was beaming through local towns, the other got entertainers with strong appeal to do the talking for them’, Sola Fanawopo, a Public Relations and Communications experts says.

Entertainment is the ‘new bride’, the bride that will never get stale or fade’, Fanawopo adds. ‘There are endless possibilities and too many strategies that can be developed and deployed around the entertainment sector’.

Well, there’s a new suitor in town. In search of new markets and determined to build a good base in a country that’s increasingly supporting local talents in music, films and fashion, Nigerian Banks appear ready to put their money where their mouth is – working with consultants, in house teams, and executive policy directions to understand the entertainment sector, with a view to exploiting inherent opportunities.

Nollywood, one of the biggest movie industries in the world, has become the preferred means of home entertainment for many Nigerians, as seen in the success of Africa Magic and productions like Jenifa; while the success locally and internationally, of acts like D’banj, Psquare, Wizkid, Davido, and their contemporaries continues to show the power of urbane culture and pop music on young Nigerians scattered across the world. The banks are increasingly interested in speaking to these young people, and the realization is clear: the language they understand is the language of social media, the langiage of entertainment, of everything hip and trendy.

It’s simple, we’ve noticed that the best way to reach the Nigerian youth in this time and generation is through entertainment. They are locked on entertainment – from music, to movies, theatre, cutting through some areas of sports and merchandising’, a strategy officer at a top Nigerian bank told NET over the weekend.

Taking the front row is Guaranty Trust Bank. Under the leadership of the late Tayo Aderinokun, the bank seemed to have understood early enough how the entertainment industry runs. So in early 2012, they launched Ndani TV,  the entertainment hub which showcases music (Ndani Sessions, The Juice with Toolz), movies (Gidi TV), Fashion (Fashion Insider), African business starters (Young CEOs) and more. Setting up this has put them in the lead, and many agree that most young Nigerians believe GTBank is the most entertainment-friendly bank around.

Sponsoring events such as D’banj’s 2012 Koko Concert has also helped. Sources say the bank is planning more events sponsorship for the year, with some deals already sealed. (Don’t forget that extravagant Ndani TV advertisement on the back of  D’banj’s T-Shirt during his performance at the closing ceremony of the African Cup of Nations finals in February.)

Diamond  Bank which recently rebranded appears to have also discovered the benefits of associating with entertainment. With eyes fixed on the youth segment, insiders say Diamond is adopting entertainment as a major marketing tool, with Nollywood, Media and Music key areas of interest. The company has already  sponsored the 2012 movie ‘Last  Flight to Abuja’ as well as the recent inaugural Social Media Week Lagos and Maxwell’s  Valentine concert (both in February 2013).

Diamond Bank is currently working on two big projects also worth millions – first off is the upcoming ‘Divas Rock’ concert which will host US based 90s rap duo Salt-N-Pepa as headliners. The other is the upcoming Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) project which will see Diamond Bank setting up small scale entertainment hubs around Lagos.

And we’ve confirmed from those who know, that they’re also working on Diamond bank entertainment properties to cut across TV, online and music.

The trend continues with Africa’s pioneer money house – First Bank. The respected bank which had positioned itself as a big supporter of the theatre (remember Umoja in 2012?) is now embracing mainstream and pop projects, identifying with events like the Lagos Fashion Week, Gbenga Adeyinka’s ‘Laffmattazz with Gbenga Adeyinka D 1st and Friends: The Home Coming’ and Darey’s N300m ‘Love Like a Movie’ music concert.

Analysts say it is only natural for other banks like Zenith, Skye and Access bank to follow. Some, like Access, are actually in already, with the 2012 Nickelodeon/Dora partnership and a shift in policy, according to insiders, that allows the management freedom to exploit opportunities entertainment platforms may present.

And from Nollywood to the music scene and beyond, practitioners are aware of this sudden love – and they’re keen, according to those who spoke with NET, to exploit it to the benefit of the industry.

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