Brand me a millionaire!
I am surprised we are not all millionaires by now. Because for several years, we have witnessed an endless deluge of millionaire promotions by virtually every company you can think of. From banks to telecoms to manufacturers and traders. Every company it seems, wants to make every Nigerian a millionaire! Our telcos and banks have now become lottery operators and everything they do is driven by some bogus plan to turn gullible customers to millionaires overnight. This to me, is beyond shocking. Banks, running millionaire promos! When did they become casinos? The very essence of banking is completely at variance with these scams they perpetrate in the guise of turning people into millionaires.
As a young copywriter with S O and U Saatchi and Saatchi more than twenty five years ago, I worked on the advertising campaigns of several banks, including GTBank. I remember that back then, banks were not allowed to run promos. As a bank you could not run any campaign which involved raffle draws and the silly lotteries that now seem the norm. The Central Bank, which approved all bank advertising campaigns would simply not approve of such.
I don’t know what has happened between then and now at Central Bank. But I know that it is disastrous for banks to promote the millionaire mentality that now pervades our national psyche. What happened to the time honored values of honest hard work and perseverance? What happened to value creation as a veritable means of wealth creation?
It is a calamity of titanic proportions that our young people who should be dreaming of becoming the next Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Leo Stan Ekeh, etc, are busy scratching cards and playing all kinds of lotteries and engaging in different scams, just so they can become millionaires within the twinkle of an eye! I do not know of any celebrated billionaire in the world today who made it from scratching recharge cards, or simply keeping money in the bank. People looking for easy money forget that there is no short cut to anywhere worth going. Even Dangote and Adenuga, whose companies have actually run some of these promos should be asked, if they made their fortune from taking part in millionaire promos!
Many brand managers now see these promos as a way to boost sales. But it is actually a lazy approach. If people get attracted to your brand through promos that promise to make them sudden millionaires, most of them will return to their favorite brands with a bitter dislike for your brand once the promo runs out and they don’t win. Then sales begin to slow down and soon, you need another promo. It’s like subjecting your brand to frequent doses of an addictive stimulant. Regular promos soon take the place of deep strategic thinking for long term brand success. Why do we like the short cut approach to things? Could this short cut mentality explain why we are not building globally competitive brands? Is it an extension of our culture of bribery? Is it akin to bribing the consumers to patronize your brand?
Sustainable brand building is the key to long term brand success and wealth creation. But sadly, we see all around us people promoting the gospel of millionairism. This is why the MMM scam was so successful in Nigeria. People don’t want to think or work hard. They simply want to make it big! That’s why lotteries, betting, miracle working churches have taken over both our air waves and landscape! While our people should be thinking and working, they’re betting and gambling! Unfortunately, large corporate institutions including banks and the giant telcos who should be key guardians of our national ethos are at the fore front of this deceptive crusade. They have spent billions of naira promoting a culture of instant gratification and eroding the most sacred values of our nation state! People no longer believe in hard work, integrity and value creation as sure ways to wealth and success. Rather, they believe in “miraculous” breakthroughs, millionaire promos, MMM, betting and lotteries as ways to ‘make it’. Youths now apply their God given talent and intelligence towards all kinds of dubious get rich quick schemes!
I remember one of the banks running a promo called ‘salary for life’. You just need to keep a certain amount of money in the bank for a specified period of time and you could win a salary for life. By doing nothing, you will be paid a salary for life. Does this make sense at all? Is this the kind of promos banks should be running? Is this the sort of mentality banks should be promoting? That you could be paid a salary for life doing absolutely nothing? Is this the way great nations are built? I often think our banks have very little idea what they should be doing about national development.
Perhaps, they do not understand that as publicly quoted companies and financial institutions, they should uphold and promote the most positive values of our nation. They should project the timeless values of security and integrity, putting the public interest and the national interest above instant gratification and myopic promotions that border on crooked manipulation. Rather than scam people under the guise of promos, they should go to our universities and promote the best brains and empower them and help them create value that will make them millionaires and employers over time.
Great brands are not built overnight. Neither are they built by turning people into millionaires overnight. Brand managers should de-emphasize this lottery mentality and get down to serious strategic thinking based on a focus on consistent value creation. They are not doing their brands much good over the long term. Neither are they doing our nation much good.
By consistently promoting the idea that you can become a millionaire overnight, they are destroying the very basis of brand building and the essence of nation building. There are many kinds of promos aimed at achieving different marketing objectives and rewarding consumer loyalty. But promos are counterproductive when they prey on people’s greed and gullibility. There is no better time than now, with the recession and all, to rethink our short cut approach to things and entrench a culture of doing things the right way and building brands for the long term.