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1.1 Background of the Study:
Over the years, the image of Nigeria and Nigerians (that is, how our external publics see us) has been quite negative. The image of Nigeria and Nigerians has a lot of implications on our social, economic, technological and political success or failure as a people. This is because our image determines how the international community assess us and relates with us. It is based on this that various administrations in Nigeria have embarked on one image-management project or the other, including the “Heart of Africa” programme of the Obasanjo regime to the recent “Rebranding Nigeria” programme, all to no avail.
Dora Akunyili (2009:2) campaigned that the National Rebranding Project is a systematic response to address the country’s negative image problem. The rebranding initiative drew heavily from the internal components of the previous image project, ‘Heart of Africa.’ It is designed to be people centered through Private, Public, and People's Partnership (PPPP) paradigm shift. This campaign sought to bring about attitudinal change, reorientation, revive cultural values and instill a renewed spirit of patriotism and hope in all Nigerians. But not too many Nigerians seemed to believe in this and the style of piloting the image-management programme.
Thus, a lot of public outbursts, cynicisms and criticisms greeted the rebranding Nigeria project championed by the ex-Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunnyili. Many social commentators argue that the right marketing communications models and strategies were not employed by the implementers. They insist that for Nigeria and Nigerians to effectively market themselves acceptably to the international community, they must first conduct an image and
reputation management audit, which is a national re-examination of values, followed by a holistic marketing communications programme that would change the perceptions of the international publics about us from the negative to the positive sides. This calls for a change of attitude on all Nigerians in a spirit of sound reputation management. This, some critics argue, should have been the philosophy behind the recent rebranding project of the Nigerian government, Fakoya (2009:5). This must have informed the jettisoning of the rebranding programme by the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, and its replacement with what he calls “A Transformation Agenda” that its philosophy, ideas and implementation has remained hazy so far.
Alabi (2010: 25) argues that for any rebranding exercise to succeed it must be implemented by marketers and not non-marketers like the Nigerian case. Ajingi (2009:15) says that the rebranding Nigeria project is put up by the leaders to deceive the masses, as well as deceive themselves. That to rebrand Nigeria, we must first rebuild the nation, rebuild our concept, rebuild our way of doing things so that we move to the right direction with the right structure. Isikalu (2009:14) agrees with Alabi that to do a proper rebranding, an understanding of the techniques and procedures required in executing a proper branding and rebranding is essential. So, public relations specialists, brand consultants, advertising agencies and brand specialists, who will channel the rebranding process through appropriate medium for optimum impact are needed. Mustapha (2009:15) asserts that the political power holders should rebrand themselves first before trying to rebrand the masses, because they are the ones who spoiled the hitherto brand Nigeria. Manuels (2009:16) also endorses this view that the rebranding exercise should start with the leaders of the country. This must be why in Nigerians curiosity, Mustapha (2009:3) advises that what the common man needs from their federal government and other political leaders is to
reflect leadership by example. When that happens, there will be little need for re-branding as the
Nigerian brand will speak for itself at home and abroad.
Negalex (2009:38) also maintain that Professor Dora Akunyili took it from a very wrong angle, insisting that what is needed now is value re-orientation and attitudinal change of Nigerians. Okiro (2009:7) agrees with this that there is no way you can re-brand Nigeria effectively and successfully without re-branding the various sections that make up Nigeria; the various organizations, units, ministries, parastatals and the individuals beginning with the Nigerian Police.
So, with all these, it became clear that the Nigerian public were not carried along with the Rebranding Exercise, leading to its failure as later admitted by Akunyili (2010: 13) herself to media men in Lagos that what is happening with rebranding Nigeria is a question of struggling to market a product that is not very marketable and that is really posing a lot of problems.
Meanwhile, Alabi (2010: 25) says in plain layman’s language, to rebrand, reposition or repair simply put, means to change consumer’s (target publics’) perception about a nation, people, product or brand and attract positive affectation or affinity to it for the benefit of all stakeholders, particularly the promoters of the brand. Therefore, rebranding, repositioning or repairing, connotes only one thing to the man on the street - a change from negative to positive perception. Imohiosen (2009: 3) agrees with him that re-branding at any point in time has at the heart of it the purpose of given a new look to anything and change whatever is the wrong perception hitherto experienced. Nworah (2006:3) wrote that brands are the tangible and intangible attributes of a product, service or country, comprising the brand names, logo, color, values, customer service levels, price, packaging etc. while branding is the continuous and strategic process involved in the creating and managing of all these associated brand elements and
components. Compared to products and services branding, country branding is the process whereby a country actively seeks to create a unique and competitive identity for itself, with the aim of positioning the country internally and internationally as a good destination for trade, tourism and investments, Nworah (2006:3) added.
On the other hand, Marketing Communications or Integrated Marketing Communications are messages and related media used in communicating with a market. Marketing communication is the "promotion" part of the "Marketing Mix" or the "four Ps": price, place, promotion, and product, (Wikipedia, 2010). Practitioners in marketing, public relations, advertising, branding, brand language, direct marketing, graphic design, marketing, packaging, promotion, publicity, sponsorship, sales promotion and online marketing are usually referred to as marketing communicators. These are the people that some Nigerians are arguing that they are the ones who have the competence to properly plan, package and implement the country’s rebranding programmes.
On the other hand, integrated marketing communications (IMC) according to Clow and Baack (2007:5), entails the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues, and sources within a company into a seamless program in order to maximize the impact on end users at a minimal cost. In our context therefore, it is the expert blending of all marketing communication tools, techniques, strategies and media (both orthodox and traditional) into a harmonious accord for an effective and successful national rebranding exercise in Nigeria, in order to optimally carry the citizens both home and abroad along.
Yet, another variant of image-management crucial in a national rebranding exercise is the citizens’ and corporate organizations’ reputation management. Leake (2008:1) defines reputation management as the process of tracking an entity’s actions and other entities’ opinions about
those actions; reporting on those actions and opinions; and reacting to that report. Reputation is generally wrapped around character, what an individual, organization, society or state is known for, and it may be good, bad or ugly. Reputation management is effected via multi-media executed marketing communications programmes. To what extent, therefore, were marketing communications models applied in the Nigerian rebranding exercises? That, we would try to find answers to in this study, with special focus on selected major marketing communications models like: selected integrated marketing communications models (IMC), the hierarchy of effects
model, the AIDA model, the DRIP marketing model, the Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results (DAGMAR) model, the social media model and the public relations two-way symmetrical model, as the parameters for measurement in this study. Detailed explanations of some of these models could be seen in chapter two.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The image of the country, Nigeria, has been seriously dented by the ignoble acts of some of its misguided citizens and other negative societal factors. Some of the major negative image-inducing elements include Nigeria’s reputation as one of the most corrupt nations in the world, fraudulent practices known locally as “419” named after the section in Nigeria’s constitution which deals with advance fee fraud. Nigeria's other negative image problems include bribery and corruption, poor work ethics and values, unemployment, poor quality, fake and substandard goods and services, tribal, ethnic and religious squabbles, leading to incessant bombings and killings of innocent citizens by militant groups like the Boko Haram. These scare away foreign investors (Nworah, 2004). Marketing communications’ practitioners in the co
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