We live in a celebrity-obsessed world where actors, musicians, sports personalities and other stars are extraordinarily admired and sometimes idolised. They set standards for beauty, fashion, culture, and lifestyle generally.
Fans and lifestyle magazines attest to the popularity of celebrities, chronicling their every move and promoting their every endorsement. Even the mainstream media is vulnerable to their charms, while brand marketers perceive them as enchanting avenues to reaching their consumers.
Over the past few years, techniques for reaching a target audience have changed significantly. What was once considered cutting-edge no longer works. The days of one-direction communication have long gone. The trend of brand ambassadors in integrated marketing communications is still catching on.
On Sunday, January 27, 2019, Nigerian Breweries Plc unveiled Burna Boy as the brand ambassador of Star lager beer at the Circa, Lekki, Lagos.
From the recent three-month YouTube campaign that portrayed Burna Boy as a Global Artiste on the Rise to his iconic win of the African Artiste of Year at the 2019 Soundcity MVP Awards, besides clinching three plaques, Song of the Year, Listener’s Choice and Best Male MVP at the award show, the afrobeat sensation is indeed a proven force to be reckoned with.
The Star brand, in its almost 70th year, has had only two brushes with brand ambassadors, the first being a momentary experience associated with football activation while the latter is Star’s current encounter with Burna Boy.
The initial occurrence was in June 2014, and the upcoming FIFA Football World Cup was fast approaching. To deepen its association with football, Nigerian Breweries launched a series of Star football activation and unveiled Austin Jay JayOkocha and Kanu Papillo Nwankwo as ambassadors for the activation. The tagline ‘ShineOnNigeria’ was pronounced as the rallying call for the country’s participation at the quadrennial event.
Positioned as a true Nigerian beer brand that sought to be a part of the lives of Nigerians, the company identified the football platform as an avenue to deepen the brand’s bond with the citizens of this great country, believing that the affinity, which the average Nigerian has with football, was legendary.
How successful were the series of Star’s football activation? Was the goal to deepen the brand’s bond with Nigerian citizens realised? What effects did Okocha and Nwankwo as brand ambassadors have on the activations, and the brand, generally? Did the initiative help to elevate the brand and increase its sales? There is no doubting the power of the international football superstars in catapulting the brand value of Star lager beer, but to what extent?
The announcement of Burna Boy after four years heralds yet another phase of Star’s life with a new brand ambassador. His youthful appeal and fame certainly earned him the face of the national premium beer.
But does Burna Boy match the DNA of the Star brand? What necessitated his appointment as Star brand ambassador? What gaps does Nigerian Breweries want to fill with this initiative?
MarketingMatters put forward these questions to the company’s portfolio manager, national premium brands, Mrs. Sarah Agha. Excerpts:
What necessitated your appointment of Burna Boy as Star brand ambassador?
Star has always had strong interests in Nigerian music, being one of the leading brand supporters of Nigerian music. The talent and the potential for greatness that our music industry possesses are truly immense. Burna Boy is, without a doubt, one of the biggest music exports from the shores of West Africa, hence the decision to forge this association with Burna Boy further cementing the brand’s position as a key player in the Nigerian entertainment scene. This year, one of our strategic approaches is to sign up a credible brand ambassador with a strong national appeal among our core consumers. In the last quarter of 2018, we reviewed various artistes across various events with a view to ranking them using different factors. Consequently, we chose to go with Burna Boy as he has one of the strongest popularity and mass appeal among our target consumers.
What gaps do you want to fill with this initiative?
Star is about music and our consumers love music. Burna Boy was one of the ‘hottest’ artistes in 2018 and his music is internationally recognised. With this partnership, we are just giving our consumers what they love.
Describe the emotional connection Burna Boy has with Star and their personality features
Burna Boy is a very popular artiste, just like the Star brand. This popularity is a great connection point with the Star brand. Both Star and Burna Boy are known to set trends rather than following trends, this is evident in the history of the Star brand in Nigeria. Additionally, both brands have street credibility and appeal to all consumer types across Nigeria and globally.
What specific audience is Star trying to reach with Burna Boy?
Star is the leading brand for every Nigerian who believes he can take on the world. With this new brand association, we have the opportunity to use this relationship to tell the Star story to every Nigerian. We are excited about this collaboration and we look forward to a very productive 2019 with Burna Boy.
Given the breadth of beer consumers, their lifestyles and changing brand trends, coupled with social, economic and environmental challenges, how does your company intend to maintain and enhance Star’s market/bar shelf life?
Over the years, Star has been one of the leading beer brands in the market, constantly innovating and providing new and exciting platforms to engage its consumers. This will continue into 2019 and beyond, the decision to forge this association with Burna Boy further cements the brand’s position as a key player in the Nigerian entertainment scene.
The brand’s effort in the music industry includes hosting one of the first music talent shows in Nigeria, Star Quest. Following up this landmark achievement, Star also put together some of the biggest music shows Nigeria has ever seen, through its Star Mega Jam and Star Music Trek platforms.
What does Star mean to the beer consumer?
Since the first Star lager bottle rolled in 1949 out of our Lagos brewery, Star has been a market leader and was listed by African Business magazine in its 100 Most Admired African Brands in 2015.
With almost 70 years tied to its belt, Star lager beer is “Perfectly Brewed for that Superior taste” and “Cold-filtered for Optimal Refreshment.” Star is not just the pride of the nation, it is the brand constantly touching lives with brightness. Star is that “Shine Shine Bobo” that we all have as friends.