This video has created so much buzz in Nigeria over the loss of the popular and hitherto Etisalat character, Saka, to their bitter rivals MTN.
Now, we have information on why he might have dumped Etisalat for MTN and it boils down to two things basically- recognition as a star and money. Read from the guy who is believed to have created the Saka character:
Well, as a Professional, I wouldn’t want to respond to the Saka
menace going on in town but then I keep getting emails upon emails from
students, clients, fans and friends. People keep asking me several
questions; why on earth did Saka port?
Relatedly, I went for a Strategic meeting with the Executive Board
Members of a renowned bank, and the story came up again. In fact, they
played the commercial and applauded the sheer brilliance of MTN. I
actually heard one of the Excos saying ‘I’m going to port immediately.’
So I asked them: what worked for you in the commercial? Majority of
them said ‘we just love this Saka man’
There’s nothing as powerful as that cultural connection and that
humanness factor we display as brands. As I watch from a distance the
recent Saka phenomenon I can only bow to this timeless advertising
principle. Culture eats Strategy for breakfast. Hats off.
As the Creative Director who was privileged to have created the
iconic Saka for advertising, I watch as this device takes on a life of
its own and how it is gradually becoming a major case study in the
history of Nigeria’s advertising. However, before I go to major brand
lessons this should teach us, I shall quickly correct some insinuations
flying round in our ad circle. Ad people can be their own worst enemies.
Don’t take my words for it. Go see Mad Men. However, it’s good to have a first person point of view to this saga.
For the record.
First, Saka was not a celebrity used for etisalat. Rather, he was a
character we at Centrespread designed for an ad campaign that has come
to take on a life of its own. When we did create the character bible, we
needed a talent that could act the role and he came in for the casting
like any other person. Looking at the screen test later on, we had no
doubt that Saka was the man we were looking for. You must give credits
to etisalat to have approved of our direction and choice. It really was
not their ‘type’ of advertising. So, it was not a case of celebrity
endorsement, it was a case of characterization. In Wendy’s ‘where is the
beef’, the miniature old lady has become a phenomenon because of her
characterization and Wendy wouldn’t dare joke with that.
Secondly, we must also quickly correct the impression that the
‘funny’ man was looking for money, hence porting to MTN. While it is a
fact that all of us on this planet would want to be better paid for our
talent, I know personally, that Saka gave his very best to us on
etisalat’s campaign. He was not signed on a contract. He was paid like
any other 3-month model arrangement. He was not paid the proverbial
gbem. For the brand then, it was more of a tactical usage. He didn’t fit
their typical advertising look and feel. Remember etisalat is the hip,
classy and swag brand. Like I said earlier, we must credit them to have
approved of the Saka idea in the first place. Although it was beginning
to look like this was a devise that etisalat could own, going by the
results it generated, Saka was treated like any other cast. I am very
sure Banky W got more handsomely paid than our beloved Saka. Far far.
But where is Banky W today? He ported also. That is what you can refer
to as celebrity usage. Saka was not treated as such.