Branding ideas, Brands, Media, Opinion

CAF Must Move The African Cup of Nations to June/July and Improve Marketing Too!

160865_heroaWhen African  football experts gather in Morroco on July 19th and 20th 2017, for an extraordinary football symposium organized by the Confederation of African Football, CAF, the biggest elephant in the room would be the decision to leave the African Cup of Nations’ schedule as it is (January – February) or for it to be moved to June-July. National teams and European clubs have fought again and again at each edition for the release of players.

European coaches have a problem releasing their African stars during a demanding moment which could make or mar their season. This is coupled with the fact that many Africans plying their trade in Europe often return after the competition with an injury or very tired. CAF during the Issa Hayatou days claimed that in June and July each year, weather conditions are unfavourable because the west is too wet, the North is too hot, and the South is too cold. Thus the competition has remained as scheduled for many editions.

While CAF has a point, we all know that according to the old English adage: he who pays the piper, dictates the tune. Even though the African cup of Nations has remained in January, some African stars in Europe have remained loyal to their clubs and snubbed the national team call. So even players seem to be unimpressed by the timing.

It just makes sense for the competition to be moved. As for weather conditions, man can do little to change it however with technology and infrastructure, we can make a fair attempt to have our way against nature. For example, the English Premier league refuses to go on break in December, during a very crucial winter period when many European leagues decide otherwise. In turn many pitches have under-soil heating to keep players warm. There are sprinklers to water the ground before and after each game and in-between halves. In some instances however, when the conditions are unfavourable, games are postponed, and the world does not end. In Tennis, when the organizers of Wimbledon realized that the rain could be a menace sometimes in big matches, the added a retractable roof to the center court in 2009. If weather is a problem, we have to build better stadiums with covered roofs in the West and under-soil heating in the south. If we don’t have the money, well we just play football. Sporting competitions with a twist added by nature has always been a spectacle. However if we really set our minds to build better infrastructures, we could.

If the competition is moved, then the African Cup of Nations will need to have better organization and marketing to hold an interest of the public in the summer. It is true that many league competitions across the world will have been concluded but we know that there are still many football competitions which could reduce the significance of the premier CAF competition. For example the Euros which happens every four years, the many Pre-season tournaments, and the FIFA Confederations Cup. Although schedules in terms of date would avoid a clash however it only makes sense that marketing and organization be improved for a total rebranding which could increase revenue drastically. This is where we could learn a lot from COPA America. The COPA America is of huge importance to the world because of the big footballing names i.e. Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Paraguay, Uruguay and a host of other teams however asides television rights, the revenue base comes from the fans within that continent who patronize the competition in ticket purchases, and merchandise. The math is simple, huge populations in member countries hold a potential market if prices are affordable. This is the same model for Europe, however the argument that the economy in Europe is by miles better than Africa, makes the COPA America a more appropriate example. COPA America in the last edition was witnessed by fans in over 160 countries and the nerve-racking final drew almost 100 million views yet attendance to games was great as well, cumulatively 1.5 million fans saw the game live. Which means an average of 46,875 fans saw each game. Multiply that by ticket prices and merchandise, that’s good money for a competition which Forbes says was hurriedly put together in six months. January or February, June or July, the African Cup of Nations has a tradition of empty seats across several games and this has to change. For starters, the ticketing channels has to be better. And the transportation networks across cities when you have to travel between countries sometimes can be really funny. In many instances connecting flights to shorten travel time can be a pain and come at premium price in an era when the rest of the world talks about low-cost air travel options.

A re-brand is necessary, and the standards of organization has to be more rigorously supervised. Television isn’t the problem anymore, neither is the standard of the pitch, these problems appear to have thankfully been overcome. However the natty-gritty of organization and getting fans into these competitions with a jamboree and fanfare beyond the host country places a question mark on how much of tourism and hospitality, organizers of CAF competitions can harness. In the case of FIFA, marketing the world cup is big business and the revenue is mouth-watering. CAF may never be able to match the same figures revenue-wise, however with great organization and marketing, a fair attempt can be made despite Africa’s economic woes.

Banking, Brands, Opinion

What a Toilet Taught Me About Customer Service

I was recently in a mall in one of Lagos’ popular suburbs when I felt this incredible urge to use the convenience! Now this shouldn’t be a problem right? wrong! It was!!

Actually, this mall was under renovation and the toilets were too! For about 30 seconds, I was furious. They might as well have decided to shut the building down. If you let people in, then they have to be human, which involves a regular use of a place to release waste from the body!

The urgency of my predicament overcame my feeling of injustice and I was soon out on the streets looking for a place to relieve myself with a plan: look for an eatery or a bank. After a stroll, I finally arrived at a bank. Though a legacy brand, this building was attractive on the inside and soon I was standing in a convenience up on the first floor of the building.

This toilet was unbelievably very neat that I decided to spend a longer time! See, I had arrived there settling to just pee (minor) however the quality of the convenience triggered a longing for a deeper experience, so I decided to poop (major). In the process of this important activity, I discovered that people (well other men, duh!) had written all sorts of things on the recently painted door. From subtle preachings to convert the public to the writer’s faith, to an encouragement by a kindred spirit (who echoed my thought) to poop here as it was fun, to a frustrated young man who used the ‘f’ word to describe the National Youth Service Corps, it was all there.

Hang on something was missing. No one had written anything negative about this brand here. I cross referenced this with other bank conveniences I had been to. Another bank’s similar door had carried inscriptions such as This bank sucks, payment lines are so long, a few swear words aimed at the management and staff, etc.

Then it hit me. People will most likely give you an honest opinion of a brand when they are very well relaxed! Let’s face it leaving notes on a toilet door works because:

– You are relieved (sometimes extremely, depending on how long you have been carrying it!)

– You are anonymous: no one is looking at you and thus you can say no wrong. You are free to express yourself without judgement.

– The platform is comfortable and easy to leave a feedback: How? Get a biro, and state what’s on your mind.

I instantly told myself that the bank manager should visit this place and see what comments people are leaving. Sadly, I realized that there was a feedback and comments sign on a slab at customer service downstairs. I need no prophet to tell me that channnel is rarely used. The process is quite a task.

Here is the lesson:

– If a brand wants to know what customers really think, they should look in unconventional places -the toilet door (like in my case), social media, comments on blogs, rants in complaint emails, even informal discussions among customers on a queue (*if you can pick it up from there).

– A customer survey is most likely a hard sell.

Now here is another lesson I learned:

I had gone to this same bank a few weeks ago to perform the BVN exercise, however a rude security man told me I couldn’t carry my computer inside. Why? no reason. He expected me to leave a computer worth a huge amount out, in the name of BVN. No thanks. This singular incidence made me skeptical about the brand.

Now funny enough a great toilet experience instilled some hope in this brand. Funny yeah? You do realize that nothing dealing with the bank’s financial operations or service delivery has been mentioned. It’s the intangibles, often times, that wins the customer’s heart.

Guess what? I feel like taking a leak AGAIN! and I’m still in this mall. Smh. Where will I relieve myself? Another bank?

Nigeria, Opinion

The NIS Recruitment Nightmare: A Portrait of Nigeria and Nigerians

a cross-section of candidates for the NIS recruitment exercise

The Nigerian Immigration Service recruitment exercise incident is a tragedy. Asides from the lives of 13 young promising Nigerians lost (as at the time of writing), our nation should mourn for many reasons: unemployment, corruption, gross mismanagement, and the list is endless.

It is very unfortunate that a minister has come out to say that the innocent people who died were impatient. I’m not surprised, the average Nigerian politician thinks through the anus not the brain (please don’t ask how that works).

I’m not waiting to hear from the presidency. Mr Abati and President Jonathan live outside the reality of the terrible state Nigeria has become, so their statements are very ‘formal’. When was the last time you found comfort, inspiration, hope and encouragement from a presidential statement, address, or media chat? Thank you, we can move on now.

A great man once said “we have found the enemy, and [alas], it is us!” I can’t agree more. The surface tension of insecurity, corruption and needless deaths in Nigeria are results of a fundamental problem: we lack compassion in Nigeria. A compassion-less system that places no value on human life is why we are where we are.

This doesn’t explain all our problems, however it does point out many other misgivings on which the Nigerian state runs.

Before we gathered thousands of youth in stadiums and other venues across the country, did somebody not think about crowd control and a work flow to avoid a stampede? No! In a compassionate country, the Fire Service will have determined if a fire code permits such gatherings, the police would understand that crowd control requires a large personnel on ground and it may be too difficult a crowd to manage, therefore tell the organizers to call it off. Even the irresponsible Nigerian Immigration Service would have known that since the number of applicants is huge, the test can be conducted in a very different way, instead of causing a chaos.

The Nigerian people aren’t left out. There is a lesson for us here.

We are so used to disorder and frustration that we would rather struggle for something than form a queue. And when there is a queue, there will always be one ‘idiot’ who thinks he or she is smarter than everyone, trying to jump the queue. In fact if only this attitude is corrected, life will be very different. Imagine if with a sizable crowd, there was order yesterday, we won’t have a tragedy today.

And the large number of unemployed people? Finally the truth is out. We continue to chide ourselves on a ‘growing economy’ with a very nice media campaign about how Nigeria is thriving economically courtesy the transformation agenda yet our unemployed youth are an enormous number. Unfortunately, we would rather go to the World Economic Forum in Davos, dash all the delegates a green-white-green scarf and take our finest musicians to entertain our prospective ‘foreign investors’ (who won’t come anyway because they know the truth), than take care of our mess at home. But then isn’t that what a lot of Nigerians are about, a public display of affluence even when some of the show-offs are genuinely broke?

Some have hinted that our youth should dream and create businesses. Well we are! And yes quite honestly the government supports through heroics like Youwin and Bank of Industry (BOI) SME loans, but come on, much more can be done! The essentials for doing businesses must be in place: Electricity, for example. Besides not everyone will be entrepreneurs. A good number will be part-time business owners, others full-time employees. No nation in the world has an economy where everyone is an entrepreneur. A good economy must cater for all, regardless.

Finally let APC and PDP, just shut up. This is not the time to throw political missiles. So the statement from the All Progressive Congress saying that PDP’s irresponsible rule caused this incident, is needless. May I point out that a good number of APC Members were once in the People’s Democratic Party? Changing political parties doesn’t redeem you from your previous wrongs. Therefore we don’t blame a party, we blame elected people who have not led well, both in PDP and APC! Besides for all APC’s noise, I still don’t know what their manifesto is.

At the end of the day, 13 young promising Nigerians (or more) have died and their families have been thrown into mourning, we must not forget them like we have forgotten the Aluu four or the 25 young women abducted by insurgents a few weeks ago. By the way, will the families of these departed ones be compensated?