Thursday, 7 January 2010

A Review Of The Glo Brand In 2009

By Uche Nworah (

Many Indigenous Nigerian brands closed out the year 2009 in style. Despite the challenges experienced mainly by major financial services brands as a result of the ‘sanusitisation’ of the sector, it is interesting to note that other brands in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, including the telecommunications sector experienced continued growth in 2009. As a brand scholar, I am fascinated by the success stories of indigenous brands that mount strong challenges against the marketing onslaughts of the established multinationals. Perhaps one should save the stories of Chi, makers of Chivita, Dangote, makers of Dansa, HiTV, Emzor and other proudly Nigerian brands for another day. Kudos to the owners and brand managers of these and other indigenous brands for proving that Nigerians can nurture and manage successful brands, and even turn such brands into world class brands.

Glo, the mobile arm of Globacom, Nigeria's first multinational conglomerate is an interesting brand. The bullish manner the brand entered the Nigerian GSM and telecommunications market when it launched in 2003 with the impressive industry acclaimed per-second billing is only comparable to the famed business approach of its owner and Chairman, Otunba Michael Adenuga who with his children Paddy and Bella are currently pursuing an ambitious project that will revolutionise telecommunications services, not only in Africa but across the globe. The Adenuga solo funded $800 million Glo 1 submarine project is set to crash even further the price of telecom services while increasing capacity, and making voice, data and video transmissions faster, more robust and seamless.

During the landing at Alpha Beach, Lagos, Globacom’s Executive Director (Human Resources) Mr. Adewale Sangowawa had remarked that “Globacom is the first single telecommunication company in the world to own its submarine cable”. The high capacity Glo 1 optic fiber cable will bring direct connectivity between West Africa, the UK and the rest of the world. The 9,800 km long cable will provide huge capacity on its 2-fibre pair system. The Glo 1 cable will also provide excess bandwidth to all the cities connected to the cable. The cable will connect 14 West African countries through the branching units to the rest of the world, and will boost economic activities in the region, create job opportunities and serve companies in Europe and Africa. Potentially, the Glo 1 project will give Nigeria the lead in telemedicine, ecommerce and egovernance, among other practices that transform economies. This project is a timely reminder to many Nigerians and others who have doubted our potentials as individuals, and our capacity as a nation that the best is yet to come.

The Glo brand acknowledges that it probably couldn’t have gotten to its current market position of over 20 million subscribers, and fast closing in on MTN which had a 4 - year head start without the support of Nigerians who continue to embrace the brand as their own, having bought into the original essence of the brand. Many branding enthusiasts will argue that Glo’s ‘green’ approach, through the adoption of lemon green as its house colour and the original empowering ‘Glo with pride’ pay-off line, which it later jettisoned for ‘Rule Your World’ was a master stroke which aimed to give Nigerians their pride back as individuals. The subsequent acquisition of national football team assets including the Super Eagles, and title sponsorship of the Globacom Premier League have been key branding decisions that continue to help endear the brand to millions of Nigerians, especially in a country where many ‘eat, drink and sleep’ football. It may seem therefore that the brand now feels it is no longer getting value for the one billion naira it spends in sponsorship money annually and have now duly notified the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) that it will not be renewing its sponsorship contract. While this decision has been widely debated, what has yet to come out is whether the NFF have bothered to look into the concerns raised by Globacom, and how these could be resolved as noted by Vanguard Newspaper’s Onochie Anibeze in his column. I think that the way forward may not be in NFF’s tough talking and boasts that it will get another sponsor as any new sponsor will still demand that the issues of grassroots football development, investments in infrastructure, improved officiating and some other issues raised by Globacom be addressed.

The loss of the sports assets by Glo may mean good news for the marketing communications community in Nigeria, who may now be challenged to think up other creative and imaginative ways of capturing the sponsorship money that should have gone to NFF. Already, Globacom has shown through its 2009 branding activities that it is a brand that wishes to engage its key stakeholders and connect to them using the 360 degrees branding approach, involving above-the-line, below-the-line, through-the-line, experiential and web 2.0 activities. Following in the footsteps of past experiential franchises it has ran such as Rock ‘n’ Rule and Win ‘n’ Rule, Glo thrilled thousands of subscribers in 2009 with a well received music and comedy show it tagged Lafta Fest headlined by Basket Mouth, and supported by other leading acts. The company says it is taking the Lafta Fest franchise to Benin Republic next, with 10 shows already planned over a 10-month period in 2010.

Many subscribers took advantage of Glo’s Super Promo or text-4-millions promo which ran over a 3-month period. The promo produced 30 millionaires with one lucky subscriber Ibrahim Abukar, a 36 year old electrician based in Abuja and married with 4 children winning the grand prize of 30 million naira. Perhaps buoyed by the uptake and success of the Super Promo, the brand in a bold move is now running a 50% off promo on glo-to-glo calls. According to a company spokesperson, ‘this is to reward our most loyal subscribers’.

2009 has also witnessed a renewed relationship between the Glo brand and many of Nigeria’s leading actors and artistes. The brand signed on several of them as brand ambassadors and did the same in Ghana thus enhancing the star quality of the ambassadors plus the 6 digits figures many of them received. These ambassadors now feature prominently in Glo’s campaigns, a sure sign of the future of the brand’s brand communications thrust.

With an ever increasing branding budget to the satisfaction of the branding community, where do all these leave the subscribers in 2010? “Glo is positioned to offer extensive coverage, premium quality service at the best rates ever” says a company spokesperson. Only time will tell as Nigerians deserve nothing but the best.

Nworah is a brand scholar

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