A brand ambassador (sometimes also called a corporate ambassador) is a person who is hired by an organization or company to represent a brand in a positive light and by doing so help to increase brand awareness and sales. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanour, values and ethics. The key element of brand ambassadors is their ability to use promotional strategies that will strengthen the customer-product-service relationship and influence a large audience to buy and consume more.
The concept of Celebrity Brand ambassadorship is not new in the corporate world. In fact this concept goes as far back as the 1940’s. However, that concept is relatively new in Ghana. Nonetheless our celebrities have had their fair share of being unveiled as influencers of some powerful brands in the country.
In 2014, 4X4 were named as brand ambassadors for Dynamite Energy drink, Joey B, Edem, Kaakie were unveiled in 2016 as Brand ambassadors for Adidas, R2bees represented Star Ghana, Samini & Okyeame Kwame both former MTN Ghana Brand ambassadors, Joselyn Dumas for Jaguar E-Pace,the list goes on. Indeed it has been an exciting time for Ghanaian celebrities to cash in on their fame.
But being a brand ambassador comes with some responsibilities as your actions and inactions at all times must be aligned with the core values of the brand you’ve been signed on. Once there appears to be the slightest disparity between an ambassador’s behaviour and what the brand stands for, brands will not hesitate in cutting you loose. From footballers to singers, a lot of celebrities have had their ambassadorial mat pulled right from under their feet the moment their behaviour or action becomes inconsistent with the brand.
In 2005, Kate Moss was dumped by Chanel as the face of Coco Mademoiselle perfume, after she was allegedly caught snorting cocaine. Burberry also “mutually” decided they wouldn’t work with her again and clothing chain H&M pulled their contract with her. Kate said she took “full responsibility” for her actions.
NFL player Cam Newton lost his sponsorship deal with yogurt company Dannon. It was after the Carolina Panthers quarterback made light of a question from a woman reporter, saying it was “funny to hear a female” ask about the sport. Dannon said Cam Newton’s comments were “disparaging to all women” and it would “no longer work with him”.
In 2009, Photos of Michael Phelps apparently smoking cannabis emerged in a newspaper. This was six months after he had won 8 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. He apologised for it saying his behaviour was “regrettable and demonstrated bad judgement”. Few days later, cereal brand Kellogg’s said they would not be renewing their contract with him as his behaviour was “not consistent” with the image of the brand.
In the music industry, Reebok cut ties with Rick Ross in 2012. A move that cost the rapper thousands of dollars. What was Ross’s crime? His verse on the Rocko song U.O.E.N.O was seen as endorsing date rape. His verse was also cut from the song with Wiz Khalifa replacing Ross on a new version.
I could go on and on about celebs that have been dumped because their behaviour became contradictory to the values of the brands but I’m sure you get the message that keeping up a certain image which is in line with a brand is important for a celebrity partnership to work.
In 2017, Ghanaian owned company Kasapreko unveiled popular Ghanaian dancehall act Charles Nii Armah who performs under the polynym; Shatta Wale as the brand ambassador for their product Storm energy drink. According to Mr Richard Adjei, the Managing Director of Kasapreko Company Limited, the company chose Shatta Wale to be the brand Ambassador because of his hardworking, versatile and energetic attributes. That move has indeed paid off as 8 months later; storm energy drink is the number one energy drink in Ghana.
An achievement that can be partly attributed to Shatta Wale’s role as the beverage’s ambassador. Kudos to the group chairman Dr Kwabena Adjei, management and staff of Kasapreko and by extension, Shatta Wale.
But a question that bugs so many persons is whether the vision and values of Kasapreko which are; respect, team work, commitment to consumers and other partners consistent with brand shatta Wale? Or all that Kasapreko cares about is selling units? Shatta Wale undoubtedly is a talented, hardworking, energetic and versatile artiste but he has also been involved in so many unruly and negative issues that include but not limited to Shooting live on camera during that Wizkid supposed beef, Slapping his body guard live on Tv during the S Concert, threatening to burn churches, smoking, displaying weapons and cussing on Facebook live. But the act that seem to have broken the camel’s back& sparked public outrage is the release of the alleged sex tape from his snapchat account. Since the release of the tape, pressure has been mounting on Kasapreko to abrogate their contract with the ‘thunder fire’ crooner. But will the Ghanaian owned company budge?
In an interview with the Marketing Manager for Kasapreko; Chris Addo Sarkodie, he acknowledged the role Shatta Wale has played in making storm energy drink the leading energy drink in Ghana but unequivocally condemned the alleged sex tape and reiterated that Kasapreko does not condone any act of vice that are perpetrated by their ambassadors. ‘We believe that Shatta Wale’s persona as a music artiste, his actions in terms of his following and everything he does on stage is positive and beneficial to our work hard, play hard campaign for storm energy drink but within the contract that we had with him, there is a clause in terms of behavioural actions. As such we are going to have a crisis meeting with him and that will determine the way forward’ He said.
Even though Shatta Wale has released a statement apologising for the ‘unfortunate’ display of obscenity on his snapchat account, that came after he had released another unrepentant video raining insults on media men in the country. We all can agree that a blight has been cast on the image of all the corporate partners of the SM King.
So, to be dropped or not to be dropped? We can only adopt the wait and see approach.
Agyekum Gyimah Akwesi/ Beachfmonline.com /Ghana