It has become very fashionable for GSM service providers to select certain well known faces to act as brand ambassadors, a role which no doubt

Does the telecoms brand ambassadors thing even work?

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It has become very fashionable for GSM service providers to select certain well known faces to act as brand ambassadors, a role which no doubt comes with ample remuneration. This is usually done as a way of capturing the mindshare of customers who would associate these celebrities with the GSM companies and in turn would lead to higher patronage and generate new subscribers for these networks. Celebrity endorsements in the western world is a common thing, and yield mutual benefits, but given the climes we find ourselves in, I am moved to ask if these celebrity endorsements really work? And to me, the answer has to be a capital “NO“.

For quite some time I have watched Globacom Nigeria announce a variety of actors, actresses and now musicians as brand ambassadors to help drive the adoption of it’s services. So far, for all its efforts this has only gotten the telco to the number position 2 (something that might also be due to the more than frequent changes in name and ownership of the third GSM coy). A close look reveals that the gap between the #2 and #3 GSM companies in terms of subscriber base is a measly figure less than 200,000. In contrast, MTN holds almost double amount of subscribers that Glo alone has (51.3 million to 23.8 million respectively). That is a gap of at least 27 million subscribers.

Consider that Airtel has spent much more less on celebrity endorsements (the only artist that I can recall they have been associated with is 2 face) when compared to Glo which has gone through numerous celebrities from the likes of D’Banj, P-Square, Basketmouth, Nadia Buhari, to lots more. If all these ambassador deals have not been able to help Glo outpace Airtel in subscriber numbers, why do they even bother? Instead of wasting (yes; wasting) all those resources in courting these brand ambassadors, why not deploy them in making their tariff plans better and more attractive for the customers? The Infinito plan was a good start, but they killed it for other ill-thought out plans like the Hi-5ive Gbam and others not worth remembering.

This is not to say that advertising doesn’t work. Sure, it does but you have to advertise a product that is worth it for the customer. One bad experience can ruin it for a customer and probably keep him and anyone close to him from using your service (word of mouth is a powerful tool). Why not invest more funds in i proving quality of service for subscribers? This telecoms brand ambassadors thing is clearly not working.

NB: The subscriber numbers come from the NCC Online Database for the first quarter of 2013.

  1. You are very right.

    I personally don’t like Glo’s excessive use of all these music and movie celebrity brand endorsements.

    With the hefty fees Glo pays out to the so-called brand ambassadors, the telco only enriches a few to the detriment of quality service to the majority of subscribers.

    It’s sad, disingenuous, lavish and wrong strategy. Adenuga is throwing money away into waste baskets.

  2. On target!

    I just checked my Glo SIM, which I hardly ever use.

    I saw about three strange SMSes, telling me… my subscription to a dating service was successful. I have therefore been billed N4.

    Me, dating service? I never subscribed.

    Branding is about perception. This N4 dediction is perceived by me as robbery and no Ambassadorial Endorsement would erase that.

    If I want to subscribe to the Internet, and it takes Prayer $ Fasting to so so successfully, a Desmond Elliott Endorsement would be Elliottic, I mean, idiotic.

    Yeah, it’s good to have Celebrities endorse products and services, but the greatest branding is via providing stellar products and services.

    Otherwise, it is just a matter of throwing money into a raging inferno.

  3. My thought exactly. Here is a bigger irony, MTN has the most popular Porting advert yet they lose most when it comes to porting. A report says 42% of people who have ported, ported away from MTN. The whole brand ambassador thing is a complete waste of money. Go to those companies with an ingenious idea on how to improve their services and see how they will shove you aside.

  4. @eye_bee_kay. MTN did the same to me. About two days ago they stole my #50, telling me that my weekly CNN subscription fee has been successfully deducted. And since then, I haven’t even seen 1 news flash! Thinking of switching AGAIN(since stopped working for me)

  5. Exactly my thoughts o Mr mobility. These guys are WASTING money on brand ambassadors at the detriment of customers.
    Glo sends me one headline text and they try to deduct 30bucks from me every week. I have deactivated twice and I still got a message this morning telling me I will be renewed in 48 hours wt 30naira, something I never subscribed for in the first place.
    These guys’ actions need to be checked. Spam messages, automatic subscription(like why the heck wld I subscribe to a headline news service through sms when I use a bb?), hidden charges and so on.

  6. Celebrities as Brand Ambassadors has little (or no) impact on consumer psyche. I really won’t buy Galaxy Grand because Banky W’ head is near the phone. Or use Glo because I saw P-square on their billboard or Konga because Omawunmi reps them.

    Quality of service. Quality of service EOD. If you insist on ambassadors, hire me jare *ask Mr Mo for my number*

  7. I really won’t buy Galaxy Grand because Banky W’ head is near the phone

    Lmao. I think I have to start reading Mobility comments frequently

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