June 3, 2019 CreativeStudios

Brand Activism: Is Nigeria Ready?

If you are a heavy consumer of the net, you couldn’t have missed the Nike campaigns, the vexed Pepsi ad, or the unresolved Gillette ad.

Recently, foreign brands have launched campaigns, all geared towards activism. From gender disparity to racial discrimination, global brands are embracing activism, using their products to show support. This – the situation where a company creates awareness on socio-political ideologies, campaigning for or against them – is known as BRAND ACTIVISM.

Early this year, Maggi Nigeria was under fire for allegedly promoting gender disparity in a bid to revere the superwoman in their “She Makes A Difference” campaign. The advert which saw a woman who felt fulfilled with her life as an independent identity was criticised for romanticising the unfortunate reality of women.
The lesson learnt from their misaction is that nothing helps a campaign if it doesn’t echo the sentiments of the audience.

The closest a Nigerian brand has come to activism is Hero Lager Beer who built their brand around the events of the Civil War and its essence, so much that their logo was inspired by the Biafran flag.

Other than this, local brands pretty much meander through trends when it comes to fighting for a cause.

Police brutality, gender inequality, child abuse, sexual maltreatment, mental health are social issues that are married to the Nigerian culture but brands avoid speaking up for/against these issues. An example is the pesticide brand Sniper remaining mum despite being a popular tool for suicide in the country.

This begs the question – WHY DO NIGERIAN BRANDS SHY AWAY FROM ACTIVISM?

One may argue that neutrality is a safe place as it keeps the brand away from any form of negativity. But it’s been proven that withholding expression in the light of a social or political issue could come off as hypocritical.
There is also the argument of being “guided by the business’ core values”. While it isn’t expected that a business goes against its values, this can be easily perceived as a ruse to avoid speaking up.

Whatever the argument is, it points to a fundamental problem; that the business doesn’t have a solid brand purpose. A brand’s purpose is its reason for existing. If that can be achieved by whatever blatant product or service you offer, then the brand is superficial. While you can sustain consumer relationship with quality products, nothing beats creating an emotional connection with them.

The truth is the purpose of any brand should be to take care of its audience because when the people suffer, it will affect the business. Echoing their sentiments builds trust and enhances customer relationship.

Besides, basic CSR efforts have been proven to increase revenue significantly, especially in the long run. Brand activism is the new competitive advantage every brand should embrace!

What are your thoughts on Nigerian brands getting involved in activism?

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Comments (10)

  1. Titi

    Very great piece. I also remember Knorr did something different from the maggi ad, a guy cooking and taking some to his neighbor who’s a woman: I think that goes to prove cooking is not a gender skill. I think more brands should get involved in activism. It will make a difference.

    • CreativeStudios

      That is a valid point. Gender disparity is indeed a germane issue that needs the attention of every one of us.

  2. Ifeanyi

    i dont see the reason for the comparison of gender dou i have no issue doing stuffs around my house which is perceived to be of the other gender.Majority of Nigerian are either sentimental when it comes to some valid truth. The brand are not the problem the mindset of the people are, which is the major cause of alot of issue in Nigeria

  3. Bobby

    IMO, Nigerians are not big on activism. Its usually difficult to get people to rally for a cause. People would only come out if they were paid or personally affected and even then, some would still be adamant.

    Perhaps, that is why many Nigerian brands don’t take part in activism. Even when their product is involved in a societal issue. A classic example would be Sniper as you mentioned.

    I believe that if our brands, big or small, come out and take a stand against different issues in our society, there would be an impact.

    • CreativeStudios

      Hmm… That’s an interesting take. It is true that nothing can be done if the people aren’t ready.

  4. Femi Davies

    I agree with you, especially with the fact that, not just the brands, Nigeria doesn’t live in the reality of now. It’s a big problem

  5. Mercy

    This is a a wonderful write up. It’ll be really help if brands participated more in activism. These adverts would be very helpful.

  6. Ziziian

    I love this. You hit the nail on the head and were concise in your points.

    Like you said, I think there’s lot of opportunity and issues within Nigeria which Nigerian brands can address.

    The urge to stay in the neutral can be very tempting, I’m sure, because if the majority of Nigerians are against your ideologies and Nigerians are your main market, that could badly affect one’s business.

    Heck, there’s also the possibility that many of them might share the same sentiment with the majority of the Nigerian populace and see no need to participate.

  7. Anonymous

    Valid points made, we probably need to deal with the gender discrimination somehow, and use it as a way of bringing us together, rather than pulling us apart

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