Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communication specialist, Social Media expert, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps brands(Profits and Non-profits)with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa)
Brand endorsement or ambassadorship has become popular. It is a phenomenon associated with the ‘borrowed equity’ syndrome. It is meant to cause more attention or create more awareness through a known face (in most times) whose brand personality, presence and personal resonate with the brand idea or target audience. Nike and Addidas as sport wear makers often use sport men and women because they resonate with their brand’s focus.
Brand endorsement or ‘spokesmanship’s’ contract is often done to promote and engage with the ambassador’s audience. Through this, a win-win approach is reached. The brand in question often pays a fee within a speculated time while the ambassador is given a set of rules to comply with. Brands that engage ambassadors are not just wasters as some will want us to believe, they are out to take advantage of the goodwill the ambassador has with its target audience.
In the choice of an ambassador, brands often look at whether the potential ambassador is compatible with the brand image in terms of values, audience’ match, controversy risk, product match, credibility, availability, physical attractiveness and whether the individual is a brand user among many other factors.
We assume Coca-cola looked at these qualities before signing on Ronaldinho in 2011 for a deal that should run till 2014. According to a statement from Coca-cola: coca-cola recognizes the career and the value of Ronaldinho and therefore signed him on’. But due to certain inconsistency and recent development coupled with image the former employer of Ronaldinho seemed to be projecting, Ronaldinho’s public perception seems to be dropping. This may not be accepted by Ronaldinho’s publicist.
In a recent press conference by Atletico Mineiro, Ronaldinho’s employer, which has a drinks deal with Pepsi, Ronaldinho was seen drinking Pepsi. Coca-cola saw this as highest form of disregard for parts of the values which it aims to gain from the brand endorsement deal. On the part of Ronaldinho, he might not have had any choice in this regard as he who plays the piper dictate the tunes. His presence at the press conference was initiated by his employer and since the employer has a deal with Pepsi, he has little choice. Only that he should have considered his brand endorsement before moving to a rival group which has a deal with his employer.
From brand above, here are some lessons for those who wish to consider brand endorsement.
Take time to do your research: In our opinion, as part of the risk factor consideration before signing on a celebrity, a careful and consistent monitoring of Ronaldinho for a couple of years might have saved Coca- Cola this assault. Brand custodians and Communicators must take time and observe every single details of the potential ambassador. Though sometimes, this may not be accurate- take for instance Tiger Wood’s infidelity case. There were possibilities he would have demonstrated or shown traces prior to the time it eventually became opened. A good underground research will always help.
Ambassador must consider the responsibility: There is no true freedom anywhere in the world. Every freedom has its attached responsibilities. Every ambassador needs to know there is no free money. Before a final selection is made, every ambassador often signs an agreement which needs to be protected through personal lifestyle and consistence professional performance. Claims were rife that since Ronaldinho left AC Millan about two years ago, his performance has not been in top form. We do not share this opinion but in every rumour there may be element of truth.
Avoid controversial potential: while controversy is good, sometimes it is often good to leave that line of action. Ronaldinho was known to be associated or had a sort of deal with Pepsi in the past, hiring the former face of a arch-rival should have been done with caution instead of throwing caution to the wind. What is your opinion?