Adopting a united brands philosophy may be just what African and developing countries need if they want to fulfill their dreams of achieving international brand recognition for some of their local brands.

This strategy could be successfully linked with the simultaneous nation-branding efforts of their home governments. There is a common ‘sister bond’ that unites brands in distant markets. Brands from the same countries that may be owned by different companies may be more willing to cooperate and share experiences when faced with an identified common ‘adversary’ or competition. Managers of such brands wish each other well in such circumstances because the ‘bad guys’ would be the well-established competing global brands.

When brands seek a common haven under the ‘one nation’ umbrella, they benefit from the resulting ‘country of origin effects’ popularized by Simon Anholt. This may be the strategy that Nduka Obaigbena and his team at Leaders & Company Ltd (owners of the ThisDay newspaper group in Nigeria) are following.

Nduka can best be described as a media mogul, entrepreneur, and lately, a showbiz entrepreneur. His deft touch has turned many of the projects his brand ThisDay has embarked on in the past to gold. He is a man driven by the desire to succeed and craves success in the same way that mortals crave food. He seems unfazed by criticism from detractors who have called him names like megalomaniac, showboy, glamor boy and political godson.

In short, the ThisDay brand has risen to the top of the Nigerian media landscape, strong evidence that the man his associates call ‘the duke’ is in touch, much more with the waters they swim in daily, infested waters. of sharks. – swim or be swallowed. The ThisDay brand is now a successful and credible media brand in Nigeria, capitalizing on the complacency of The Guardian newspaper and the demise of other titles, notably the Daily Times and National Concord. ThisDay newspaper has now grabbed an enviable position in the market as the number one newspaper chosen among the A,B,C readership demographics. The simultaneous publication of two daily editions in Abuja and Lagos has ensured that the logistical difficulties experienced by the other titles of competing newspapers are now a thing of the past within the group of newspapers. What ThisDay is doing in Nigeria is what The Guardian did in the 1980s, but Nduka and his team have gone further by spinning off other for-profit and social projects that have further expanded their brand identity.

However, success comes at a price; Nduka Obaigbena and his ThisDay media group have seen many of them. They became embroiled in the controversy of the Miss World religious riots in 2002 when ThisDay published the now infamous article about the Prophet Muhammad speculating that he might have chosen one of the Miss World beauty pageant contestants if he were still alive. Soon after, Nduka burned his fingers when, backed by a war chest the size of a bank vault, he forayed into South Africa’s exclusive but lucrative media market, thus becoming the first Nigerian media company to become truly international, whose success would have been rejected other projects around the world. This was at a time when such corporate and financial relocations favored South African companies that have since taken over half of Nigeria’s economy. The project collapsed after a year. ThisDay landed in another controversy in 2006 when it accepted and published a controversial wraparound ad from a faceless organization endorsing Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo for an unconstitutional third term against the general mood of Nigerians at the time.

Such low experiences are not new to the father of seven children. He became Nigeria’s youngest editor in the 1980s when, in his early twenties, he launched This Week magazine, a clone of the Newsweek magazine he had previously worked for. His efforts were pioneered alongside those of the elite Nigerian magazine editors at the time, such as Chris Okolie of Newbreed magazine and Dele Giwa et al of Newswatch magazine. This Week, despite all the promises it contained, finally died.

Now a survivor of the publishing game, Nduka’s other social projects, such as the annual ThisDay Awards and ThisDay fashion and style weekend, have since become prominent features on Nigeria’s social calendar, attracting celebrities from all over the world. top tier and influential players from inside and outside Nigeria. Earlier this year, the ThisDay group pioneered the ThisDay Ranking of Nigerian Universities, a social project aimed at recognizing the teaching and research efforts of Nigerian universities. Modeled after the popular Times UK university rankings, the ThisDay rankings are expected to promote and celebrate best practice in Nigerian universities, while also challenging universities at the bottom of the rankings table. to clean up their deeds.

At a time when the current mood and debates in the public and private sectors revolve around the issue of national branding and the associated economic benefits, Nduka and ThisDay have scored another winner with the inaugural edition of the music festival. ThisDay, a project that has even impressed Ben Murray Bruce, the king of Nigerian show business, who commented that “show business is one of the best things to happen to the image of Nigeria right now.”

It’s no surprise why the fair that was held in Lagos over two days over the weekend of October 7-8, 2006 has continued to attract praise from far and wide. It will really do a lot for the image of the Nigerian brand. Launching an annual music festival with the help and sponsorship of local businesses is a strategic move for all companies involved, especially ThisDay, which currently has an annual turnover of $35 million. In addition, the presence of government officials at the event will help project the image of ‘brands united’, which comprises Brand Nigeria, ThisDay and the other participating brands.

The music festival couldn’t have come at a better time, to help divert attention from negative reports in the international media about travel warnings being issued by the governments of the US, UK and other Western countries. regularly targeting its citizens, primarily disturbing the security and stability of Nigeria. The US government had predicted in 2005 that Nigeria was a failed state that would fall apart in 10 years.

ThisDay music festival is indeed a PR coup for Nigeria and Nigerian brands. The show featured the likes of Beyonce and lover Jay-Z and other acts like Ciara, En Vogue, Snoop Doggy Dog, Missy Elliot and Busta Rhymes. The stage was also set for Nigerian acts like King Sunny Ade, Weird MC, TuFace, Majek Fashek, Seun Anikulapo-Kuti, Asha, Dare Art-Alade and D. Banj to showcase their talents.

Speaking at the show, Nduka Obaigbena said the ThisDay music festival was “to show that good things can still work in Nigeria. We are here to show that if we work together we can set big goals and surpass unattainable goals.”

Congratulations to him and his team for making Nigeria and Africa proud, hopefully this will build more confidence from the international community in Brand Nigeria.

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