BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Building brand affinity with iconic music personalities: The Fearless energy brand example

Sponsorship is one of the potent tools in brand building. When it is put to creative and effective use, it can resonate brand value through the medium of sponsorship.

That is why, brand promoters all over the world employ sponsorship as a regular brand marketing driver, either to build brand equity or stimulate sales through brand association that such sponsorship platform provides.

This is where the recent effort of Fearless energy drink is being considered. From the stables of Rite Foods, Fearless energy drink has taken its marketing connection with consumers to another height in its continuous quest for excellence, with the sponsorship of worthy initiatives, especially in the entertainment industry.

This has been widely demonstrated in its pursuit in promoting the fast-growing entertainment sector, which has young talented Nigerians building a career for themselves, likewise other musical icons that have made the nation proud in their genre of music.

The brand’s commitment was evidently showcased in the sponsorship of this year’s Felabration, a one-week event commemorating the late Afrobeat King, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who was presented a posthumous award, as Africa’s foremost talent with positive energy, a creative genius, intentionally different and a premium quality brand that resonates the value chain of the Fearless energy brand.

Conceived in 1998 by Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti, Fela’s eldest daughter, Felabration is held annually from October 11-17, and the 2021 event being the 22nd edition with the theme “Viva Nigeria Viva Africa,” took place in 22 countries across the globe.

The event packed with captivating activities and held at Afrika Shrine, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, started with a symposium themed ” The National Question Evolution or Devolution” with the moderator/chairman, Femi Falana, among other prominent speakers. Other exciting activities include an arts competition, afrobics dance competition, and schools’ debate on the topic “Covid 19 is a Blessing,” among others.

However, the most profound aspect of the event was the posthumous award bestowed on Fela by the Fearless energy drink, which claimed and based on its market performance and rating, shared the following attributes with Fela of being intentional, standing for quality, being daring, innovative, state of character, selflessness, and fearlessness.

The award, which was conceptualized by the innovative company, TPT International, known for its creative stunt and delivery, saw all the “A” Class celebrities in attendance, with the scion of the Fela Anikulapo-Kuti dynasty, including Yeni, Femi and Kunle Anikulapo-Kuti.

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With the highly-praised award being the major highlight of Felabration 2021, analysts described it as a well-thought marketing strategy by a future-forward brand that is exploring a strong association with a great musical icon, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, posthumously.

At the presentation event, which was the last day of Felabration, Boluwatife Adedugbe, brand manager, Fearless Energy Drink, who was cladded in what looked like an Egyptian goddess robe and escorted by two hefty men in pants with the symbols of the Fearless energy drink, walked majestically, as four sturdy drummers appeared on stage in a choreographic display, heralding the arrival of the goddess, which happened to be the Brand Manager of Fearless, who had an outstanding performance, eulogized the great African music star before presenting the larger than life Saxophone, Fela’s musical instrument, with a standing ovation from the crowd.

With a dramatic tone, Adedugbe extolled the Afrobeat king saying, “Though born and raised in a middle-class, elitist family, he chooses to associate with the masses, down-trodden, and society rejects, and abandoned by the authorities.”

“Today, we honour a man who came before his time, saw the future, fought collective battles most times alone, but departed when needed most.

“Fearless Fela was the mouthpiece of the masses, fighting their battles, and more often than not, lost so many precious possessions, which includes his Mother, the height of sacrifice for one’s country and fellow citizens.”

The high-spirited brand manager further remarked, “Although physically he’s gone, philosophically, ideologically, creatively, innovatively, and fundamentally, he lives not just in our lives, but, in our talents, and he continues to inspire us to be the best that we can be, without waiting for the approval of peers.”

“He fought anti-progressive forces and always stood fearlessly as an enigma, a musical icon, one of Africa’s greatest exports, musical and cultural ambassadors.”

On Fela’s home, which was a place for all, the charming Adedugbe affirmed, “His Kalakuta Residence and the Old Afrika Shrine were home to everyone. Fela was selfless, accommodating, and passionate about the cause of the ordinary Person. Abami-Eda’s songs resonate with the plight of most Africans and the blacks in the diaspora. So much so, we are unable to forget him. Today, l am here, expressing our token of appreciation to a man who has left so much for us to thrive and remain Fearless.”

A thunderous applause with a standing ovation and Fela’s salutes by the crowd greeted the award presentation.

Receiving the award, Yeni Anikulapo Kuti, who was amazed and thrilled with the attractive symbol that signified his father’s greatness in his sphere of music genre and his giant stride in bringing about social change through it, expressed her joy for the important recognition of her father’s effort.

She eulogized the World-class company for refreshing participants at the event with its first-rate brands and the creativity introduced to make it more exciting.

Yeni praised the Fearless energy drink brand, stating that the award which would be placed at the Museum for public view and appreciation was the best thing that has ever happened since the inception of the Felabration.

She stated that the award is significant because it is from a leading brand that has been promoting human and economic development, especially in the entertainment industry, which is a burgeoning sector of Nigeria’s economy.

Similarly, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, Fela’s eldest son, an Afrobeat musician, who expanded the genre’s reach to embrace punk, electro, and hip-hop, commended the Fearless energy drink brand for sponsoring this year’s Felabration as talented artistes energized by the leading brand came up with electrifying performances at the musical shows of the event.

According to an analyst, the concept of the award, the delivery, and the acceptance is a validation of the idea and relevance of the brand and consumers.

In marketing, sponsorship designed for consumer penetration must demonstrate strong brand affinity and emotional connection for brand influence derivable from such association.

The Fearless posthumous award initiative is still receiving applause from marketing experts and consumers, especially since the Felabration platform has just been taken over by the Rite Foods’ Fearless energy drink from a rival company, 7Up Bottling Company, who appeared not to have done much with the platform in terms of sponsorship exploitation until Rite Foods’ Fearless came on board and raised the bar this year.

The Fearless energy drink brand also added colour to the one-week event by re-inventing Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s bedroom at the Afrika Shrine, the popular venue for this year’s Felabration, and this attracted music lovers and lots of consumers to the bedroom, all taking different photographs with bottles of the premium Fearless energy drink.

The Fearless marketing stunt has been applauded by Adewale Ojo, for its authenticity and relevance, stating that it demonstrates the exceptional marketing concept of a world-class brand that has set the pace for others in its market segment and brand sponsorship with a credible platform like Felabration.

Though the annual event has come and gone, all that went into it, that made it very exciting, will linger forever, as not even the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), founded to guide, protect and promote the interests of musicians, had thought of such an honour to one of the country’s music legends, or even by any organization.

And coming from Fearless energy drink, produced by a proudly Nigerian company, the memories will continue to linger and open other windows for the brand. It should be expected that the brand handlers would certainly explore these angles and as a credible platform.

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