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Epe 6 on foreign clubs jerseys: Who’s branding who?

Whereas Nigerians and more intimately, Lagosians are still celebrating and heaving sigh of relief over the rescue or release of the Igbnola Model College, Epe, kidnapped students, experts in advertising and branding business have picked holes on the way and manner the six boys were presented before the public.

To the experts, the implications of their first public appearance in the understanding of the international business community may be very worrisome.

First, the boys were said to have been kidnapped on school uniform on May 20, 2017. Secondly, they stayed with the kidnappers for 64 days and one full day under the care of the Ondo State government after their rescue from one of the notorious creeks in the state where about 20 kidnappers were killed and eight Police officers got injured.

To situate the issue very well, governor of the state, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu led the six boys who were putting on foreign clubs jerseys and personally handed them over to the Lagos State government.

The clubs include Barcelona FC of Spain, Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea FC, all from London, UK.

It is very clear that the Ondo State government had hosted the boys for at least 24 hours from the time they arrived Government House, Akure on Friday till Saturday afternoon before packaging them back to Lagos.

If all of the above are guaranteed, then several questions on their packaging before presentation to the press, Nigerians and most importantly, the international community abound.

One; why of all shirts in Ondo State, only those of foreign clubs are given to them? Are those clubs involved in their rescue operations? Did they solicit or pay for such massive international publicity, that is; if the clubs fail to see the act as embarrassing in the first instance?

If Ondo State government who packaged the rescued boys actually wishes to use the boys to brand football, what happened to Sunshine FC, the Ondo State based Division One football club?

Is it that they do not have free shirts for the boys or the club is not brandable?

What stops branding the six boys with jerseys of both Ondo and Lagos based clubs if they must put on football shirts in the first instance?

Besides, saying that those were what they were putting on during the day of their kidnap is out of place. Also, out of place is insinuating that the boys chose the cloths.

Analysts say the receiving Lagos State Government has no much blame in this matter even though some observers argued that as smart as Lagos State Government, on sighting the boys ought to have rallied round for at least, if not branded shirts, any other clothes’ so as to dissociate any form of misconstrued branding in the return of the boys.

Branding is a critical aspect of advertising to grow a business or a campaign. In a telephone interview with a branding expert, Mr. Akintunde Olukoya, he said “branding or rebranding is a tool used by advertising companies to drive a critical new message to the public either to correct or create a new impression on a particular product or issue of urgent government or corporate importance”.

“Now on the issue of packaging the rescued boys back on foreign clubs branded shirts, I think the government and people of Ondo State need to explain more because it will be hard for me to place the branding.

“I believe the government of Ondo State and the Governor himself who personally brought them back, all have enough time with the boys to kit them even in local ‘adire attire’ that can be made overnight because they were not returned the same day of rescue.

“Ondo is a Yorubaland and I don’t think they have any reason to give for that error of promoting clubs that has no economic bearing with the state.

Continuing, Olukoya recalled that “Even when the 82 Chibok girls were dramatically rescued, I remember that when they appeared before the public, I think at the presidential Villa, they were all on locally made Ankara”.

“Many of us queried the rocket speed used to make a total of 82 new cloths for the girls and when you link that episode with what transpired in Lagos yesterday (Saturday), you will what I can describe as thinking gap,” the branding expert averred.

Another advertising expert in Lagos who spoke to Business Hilights on grounds of expressed worry on how all the government officials in Ondo State were carried away on this matter, saying “It shows lack of common sense of creativity”.