Analysis · Entertainment · Humor · Nigeria

Naija branding: When Messi became a drug, Tupac alcohol

Rotimi Ige takes a look at how some companies in Nigeria use established names to promote their brands. Excerpts:

THE young lady executive walked into the restaurant, amid approving glances from the young men that were eating there. She ordered her food and sat quietly, eating her lunch.

Some minutes later, she screamed so loud that everyone nearly ran out of the building. She broke into tears, clutching her stomach, mumbling that she had been poisoned. When she finally calmed down, she was asked the reason for her melodrama.

She pointed to the sachet of water that had previously been assisting in drowning the mouthfuls of rice and beans that she had ordered. Upon closer examination it was discovered that the sachet water bore no NAFDAC number and contained the thigh of a cockroach. The sachet water was aptly named ‘Confirm’ pure water.

This is one of the many experiences by Nigerians. Due to the call by notable citizens and groups in the country for the patronage of locally made products, many Nigerian manufacturers have resorted to producing what would ultimately entice the general public in terms of branding and packaging.

Rather than come up with original ideas toward selling their brands, the manufacturers make use of popular foreign brands and package their products to look or feel like the original so that the public may be swayed to purchase the Nigerian version. Other manufacturers resort to fleecing the unsuspecting public of their hard earned money through the sale of these substandard or poorly packaged products.

Some respondents, however, say that the manufacturers of such products simply lack the initiatives to come out with quality products with good branding.

Examples of these products are everywhere.

The Nigerian Tribune went on the streets and on the internet to find some of these products and found quite a large number of ‘prototypes’ as Majid Solomon called them.

Lionel Messi is a young Argentine footballer that has made historic achievements in the footballing world. Known for his footballing prowess and agility, a drug has been produced in the northern part of Nigeria and named after him.

The drug, ‘Messi’, is a blood rejuvinator that is supposed to make the patient active and agile, just like Lionel Messi.

Isaac Audu, who spoke to the Nigerian Tribune in Kaduna, said that the drug was popular and its name ‘Messi’ was a unique selling point. When asked whether the name was patented or whether they had requested rights to the use of the name, he retorted, ‘Is that neccessary?’.

Facebook owned by youngster, Mark Zukerberg, is a social networking site that has millions of users hooked on it daily due to its simplicity and efficiency at connecting people all around the world in real time.

In Lagos, some Nigerians have decided to use the name for their nursery and primary school. The Nigerian Tribune was recently suprised to come across a certain ‘Facebook nursery and primary school in a surburb of Lagos State.

The late Tupac ‘Amaru’ Shakur was a legendary rapper who reigned in the early 90’s. His death was one of the most celebrated in the history of black entertainment in America as it was fraught with a lot of controversy.

In Nigeria, the name ‘Tupac’ has been immortalised by a local gin company which specialises in the production of local alcoholic drinks.

Egbunu Isiaka told the Nigerian Tribune his ordeal when he recently purchased a pair of jeans.

Said he, “I had gone to the market for a new pair of trousers and I intended buying a pair of jeans. When I got to the market, one of the young men pulled me aside and whispered to me that he had recently taken stock of the latest design of jeans. I decided to believe him and proceeded to inspect his ‘designer’ stock. Imagine my shock when he brought out the jeans and I discovered the ‘designer’; Toyota. Toyota Jeans was boldly inscribed on the back pockets while a key chain of the Toyota brand was attached to it, perhaps to prove its authenticity. It took the grace of God for me not to slap the seller”.

From these examples, it is evident that Nigerians prefer to use popular international brands to sell their businesses locally.

The question, however, is whether the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), has been doing anything to check the standard of goods with suspicious ‘names’ of products made in Nigeria or imported from abroad.

Perhaps in response to that, the SON released a statement recently that a new bill that would give prosecutorial powers to the Standards Organisation  of  Nigeria (SON) was underway.

Its Director-General, Dr  Joseph  Odumodu, who made this known recently in Lagos, said that once the bill was passed to law, the  agency  would  be  able  to  start criminal proceedings against   offenders.

He said the agency lacked  the power  to  prosecute  importers  of sub-standard  products  into  the  country.  The SON, he said, was facing a big  challenge in  eliminating sub-standard  products because SON was only allowed to arrest suspects  and hand them over to the  police. This, he explained, had raised great potential risks for the country’s  campaign   against  sub-standard  products.

He said  70 per cent of goods manufactured in the country, especially items such as iron rods and cables were substandard.

Odumodu said it was  difficult  to test  imported products because the  agency  lacked  globally accredited laboratories  to test products, which   had  international  mark of quality.

Consequently, the  Director-General  said that the agency could not say  that   certain  products, which  claim  international  quality were not in conformity with the requirements of the relevant standards.

To  prevent  dumping,  Odumodu  said  the SON was  demanding  that  importers  bring  in  products  that  have  certificates of  free use within the originating country, adding  that  the  mark identifies a product as a reliable product of acceptable quality to be trusted by consumers and buyers alike thereby improving market confidence.

According to the SON, substandard consumer goods in Nigeria constituted 85 percent of merchandise a year ago although the agency claims to have brought the figure down to 60 percent.

Culled from Nigerian Tribune

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