After a phenomenal rise to global fame, Nollywood
celebrated its 20th anniversary recently. It ought to be a time to dance probably round the year, but things are far from being very rosy for the industry at present. Among other issues, piracy, absence of structured distribution networks and a string of scandals trailing some of its star players are threatening to rob Nollywood of its glory. While these issues are not new, they have taken a toll on the fortunes of some actors and actresses. Before now, one area where a good number of the screen stars had found consolation is that of endorsements by corporate organisations, especially telecom giants. But the business world is fast shifting its love to musicians. Only last week, Globacom dropped some of its Nollywood ambassadors, after settling for a crop of Nigerian singers. For some, it is a pointer to the fact that the organisation may have realised that musicians, rather than actors, have more influence on young people in Nigeria at the moment.
In this day and age, it seems all it takes for an average singer to hit it big in Nigeria is just one single – which does not necessarily have to convey a meaningful message. Then the money begins to roll in – invitation to perform at high-profile shows, a string of endorsements and so on become the lot of the artiste.
Those affected by the decision include some of its old hands, Ramsey Noah, Rita Dominic, Mike Ezuruonye, Monalisa Chinda, Nonso Diobi, Uche Jombo and Yoruba actor, Odunlade Adekola, who got signed on in 2011.
On the flip side, Chioma Chukwuka, Ini Edo, Funke Akindele and Desmond Elliot are retained, at least, for now.
As expected, the list has not passed un-scrutinised. The decision to drop Jombo, who is not only scandal-free but currently wears the toga of a producer and actress for Akindele, has, for instance been queried by some people.
Interestingly, MTN also appears to be thinking in the same direction. It has found love in the arms of reigning singers such as Tiwa Savage, Kcee, Iyanya, Praiz and Davido just as Globacom has courted M.I, Omawumi, Lynxxx, Bez, Waje, Naeto C, Flavour and Burna Boy. Besides, the former once engaged the services of top actors, Nkem Owoh and Patience Ozokwo, in some of its campaigns and TV commercials in recent years, but failed to sign them up as ambassadors.
Again, the fact that some of the artistes being signed on to both companies are still at the teething stage of their careers, with just a hit or two in their kitties, throws up more questions than answers.
But it is also sure that it is the one who pays the piper that calls the tune.
Traditionally, the concept of celebrity endorsements is embraced by top organisations all around the world because it helps to build trust with current and potential customers, while increasing the consumer’s desire for a product in the process
Also, radio and television personalities are taking the shine off actors with regards endorsements. These include big names like Dan Foster, Toolz and Toke Makinwa, who recently inked multi-million Naira endorsement deals as Lipton Tea ambassadors. Toolz, Makinwa and TV presenter, Eku Edewor, are also the faces of recently-launched alcoholic beverage, Snapp.
While it may be too early in the day to tell whether or not the ongoing romance with music stars may be short-lived or translate to portability, or a just a mere gamble, the fact remains that Nollywood is losing out in the game.