Business is very demanding and competitive, especially when a dealer is in a market where he sells the same kind of product with virtually everybody.
The tasking nature of trade has stretched the creativity of most brand owners who now employ street dancers, as a ploy for passers-by to patronise them.
This advertising strategy is gaining attraction in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially for good products. The entertainers, who are mostly boys and girls in their twenties, clad in stylish T-shirts, partly torn jean trousers on the kneel and sometimes, with funny-looking hairstyle, dance to different songs like reggae, hip-hop and makosa.
Without compunction, the ladies shake their buttocks, breasts and even fall to the ground according to the tempo of the songs. The guys, on the other hand, mimic the cripple, imbecile and the aged, all in the name of entertainment then leaving their admirers clapping and giggling.
They defile the sun or rain and dance for three to four hours at a stretch. When they are exhausted, another set takes over for a particular period of time. While this is on going the master of ceremonies, interjects with the features of the brand like phones, power band, clothes and bank promo. Other workers distribute flyers and explain to passers-by about the product.
At Wuse 2, by along Banex Plaza, seldom a day passes without seeing these people. Sometimes, more than five companies position themselves applying the same strategy but with different dancers and brand causing cacophony.
As the songs belt out, so are willing and unwilling customers stop to catch a glimpse of the drama. In most cases, they even dance along with the songs, unconsciously and forget the message.
Expectedly, most drivers who are swept away by the titillating ambience hit other vehicles, and compound the traffic jam.
Abdulkadir Yahya, 23, who is an indigene of the FCT, at Banex Plaza, said he grew up in a family of dancers. He was introduced to dance for Konga, an online shopping firm, by his friend before another brand employed him permanently:
“A friend told me about street dancing for Konga Company. I was receiving N3,500 per show. I dance from 8 a.m. to 1:00 p.m, before going for a break. When I started, my mum was so sad. But when she noticed that she could dissuade me, she rather encouraged me.
“When a phone brand saw me dancing, it hired and placed me on a salary scale of N60,000 monthly. I have been dancing for the company for four years now. But I have plans of going back to school.”
Just like Yahya, Festus Michael, who hails from Kaduna State, joined a phone brand. When he started he was receiving N20,000 as monthly salary for three years. But he receives N50,000 monthly and N500 for feeding, daily.
“The business is very attractive and rewarding. I was dancing here in Wuse 2, by Banex before a phone brand bought me over. People are attracted by sound.
“So when passers-by see us some would take pictures while others make enquiries about the product. If we do not come out to display, sales is usually poor. We sell one or two phones, a day. But as soon as we display, the company sells more than 40 pieces a day.”
For Justus Jury (MC Phab), although, he is not a dancer but a rapper who turned master of ceremonies. He said he veered into the business because of unemployment despite studying public administration:
“A phone brand bought me from another brand. It is very exciting doing what you love to do. My monthly pay is N60,000. It does not matter how many times we perform. Sometimes we perform nine times a month.
“We also get stipends whenever we go out to sponsor a show outside Abuja. Other brands bribe us to perform for them because of the high patronage.”
A phone dealer, Chuks (not real name), said he spends over N2 million yearly to get permit from the Abuja Environment Protection Board (AEPB), for noise pollution. The male dancers get ridiculed, while their female colleagues are christened as prostitutes.
Most of them are regarded as public nuisance even for the brand they sweat for. The shibboleth they hear everyday is “sack.” At the slightest mistake, they are heavily surcharged.
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for their salaries to be paid timely. Allowances accrued to them for outside shows are sat upon by their branch managers.
“Ordinarily, it is not our job to set canopy and repair faulty gadgets, but we do all those things. And we don’t get reimbursed. Even our friends do not accord us respect. They see us as useless people with no future plans,” a dancer who preferred anonymity said.