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Fandom, Influencers and Money! Who are the Real Winners of BBNaija2017?

See Gobbe!

When it was certain that Big Brother Naija was going to make a grand comeback; our expectations were nothing but high! This is 2017 and Content still rules in all its splendour. Millenials are giving content creators, storytellers and marketers a hard time trying to figure out what they really want. If Big Brother was going to get our attention, he had to put his best face forward (Pun Intended).

True to its theme “See Gobbe”, BBNaija2017 literally broke the Naija media scene like madness. Though largely driven by social media, Big Brother set an irresistible agenda that found its way into our conversations through the five screens (TV, desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet). From dinner table discussions to office banter and social media forums. Big Brother was everywhere!

Photo Credit: Africa Magic

Content is Still King

As cliche as this sounds this kind of explains why the Big Brother Naija comeback worked. It was oozing content everywhere. Many people criticized the show questioning it’s moral validity and whether or not it was serving the information needs of Nigerians. What many do not understand is that the intent was not to create a morally relevant show, the intent was to start a conversation that would provoke all kinds of reactions. The intent was to evoke cultural, religious and ethnic sentiments. The intent was to light a match and watch it spread like a wildfire. And it worked!

There was never a dull moment on the show; besides french kissing and “daring” moments (which is still content by the way), BBNaija used different pathways to connect with the audience. Where else would you find a combination of outdoor sports, indoor games, rigorous tasks, heated debates, visual arts, dance, drama, music, gossip, punctuated with a slice of romance? Or where else did we see people rooting for each other and at the same time plotting again one another in real time?

The Internet and Social Media as a Platform for Fan Culture

Social media was the game changer for #BBNaija and showed us the inherent power of online fan networks. Prominent amongst them were: #TeamEfe, #TeamBisola and #BossNation who established themselves in distinct communities within the broader online community; these collaborations even defied ethnic or geographical barriers.

We saw this reality play out in full force on Big Brother Naija. It was so intense that it even began to breed hostility among opposing fandoms. Celebrities also joined in the craze by publicly endorsing or supporting their favourite housemates. Fans created their own songs, shirts and slangs like “Based on logistics” and “Na the work wey we dey do” started becoming a thing.

Content producers are finding it difficult to ignore internet fandom and are beginning to look for ways to profit from this online interaction that people seem to be enjoying. But this could be a very dangerous terrain because social media has given uncensored control to all kinds of people including unseen pests who go about unleashing unsolicited and vicious attacks with the intent to damage or hurt another person’s well-being. For the BBA Housemates this would mean being extra sensitive to fans online and offline behaviour, responding to fan expectations and dealing with regular online harassments.

A Kind of Influencer Marketing

More and more brands are scrambling to partner with influencers and favouring it over celebrity endorsements. This is because influencer marketing works, and gives a brand credibility and a human face. BBNaija gave birth to 12 influencers who have niche audiences that they appeal to. The lead sponsor Payporte latched on both competing and evicted housemates as “ambassadors” for promoting its goods and services. Housemates “ordered” nice outfits for their special events and got to model the clothes without even trying to be promotional.

The trick in Content Marketing is to strategically provide useful, interesting and relevant content in a unique way such that it still enables the consumer to take a desired action. Entertainment, Fashion and Music were different strategies used by BBNaija and Payporte to connect with consumers touchpoints.

It seems even the evicted housemates were “bigger” winners, because they were able to quickly leverage on the buzz to garner their own unique and niche audiences. For instance: Uriel has become a plus size model for PayPorte. She started creating monologue videos reminiscent of her epic diary room sessions. Now that’s something to watch out for. Another good example is Miyonse,  who has also leveraged the platform in building a name for himself as a chef. Cocoice also dropped a new song not too long after the show and has received commendable attention.

Beyond the internet, there was the offline element through eviction parties and other meet and greet settings that made the impact of these influencers even stronger.

Influencers are becoming the preferred option because of the mass impact value they bring. They may reach fewer people compared to celebrities, but you are sure that your message is getting to the right people. Influencers also inspire engagement because they bring a level of creativity that celebrities do not. For BBNaija, popular Nigerian blogs like BellaNaija, Olorisupergal, Ynaija and PulseTV were also key influencers tweeting, instagramming and giving live updates about the show.

There is more than one screen when you’re watching Big Brother

It was very common to see a “video within a video” especially on social media during the course of the show. That is someone using their phone to take a video of what is playing on TV in order to preserve or curate parts of the show. A good example was the Kemen/Tboss incident. When a story transcends more than one media, it opens up new ways to keep telling a unique story in a seamless “media mix”. Instead of a unidirectional way of spoon-feeding audiences, what we have is a co-creative storytelling process that is ever-expanding.

#BBNaija: @Efemoney has got the money ? #Congratulations #BBFinale ?@ravetvchannel

A post shared by YNaija (@ynaija) on

As the world keeps getting big on video content, it is safe to assume that these trends would continue leading to both creation and consumption of transmedia content. The rise of Millennials and Gen Z in an age of widespread access to high-speed Internet connections has led to a new breed of consumers who are their own storytellers.

What does this mean for Brands? It means we are serving an audience that is highly informed. They are a unique set of information “gatherers” and “scavengers” who would hunt out all the parts of the story till it forms a complete narrative. Because they have the tools to double check your narrative, you cannot afford to offer content that is deceitful or false. It must always check out!

PayPorte: Before meets After

The beautiful thing about Content Marketing is that it does not feel like marketing, even though it is still marketing. It is marketing that gets you because it comes to your world and does not force you into its own world. One way to know if marketing delivers is to evaluate the aftermath of the campaign.

Payporte who I fondly refer to as “the other big brother”, did not really have a nationwide share of mind or awareness until the Big Brother Naija show. That has changed for obvious reasons.

Earned Social Media

Before BBNaija PayPorte had a decent social media presence, but as you would imagine, their social media numbers tripled during the show. They moved from 29.4K  and 33K followers to 46.1K and 149K followers on Twitter and Instagram respectively. The key lesson is to drive engagement and the numbers would follow. BBNaija and related topics topped the list of trending topics in Nigeria for the past two months. The finale show reportedly trended on Twitter worldwide.

Online Activity

We might not be able to publish their website analytics, but a quick analysis on Google Trends shows that PayPorte related searches experienced a spike after the show began.


As mentioned earlier, one key strategy Payporte used engaging the housemates in and outside the house. Before any major event or party, housemates ordered their outfits on Payporte. They also received shopping vouchers as rewards for some games. Outside of the house, PayPorte stretched the BBNaija influence further by engaging evicted housemates as ambassadors, models, and influencers.

Would you buy a dress because Tboss wore it?

Someone did

Some people even took it personal…

Fashion, Food, Music, Movies there is a BBNaija housemate somewhere.

Following the Money

Though Payporte was the lead sponsor, other brands like Indomie Noodles, Minimie Chin Chin, Legend, Dstv and telcos were major stakeholders in the show. Payporte garnered a lot of attention and brand equity from Big Brother Naija which might not immediately translate into profit but would pay off in the long term. I want to believe that they are pumping a lot of money into marketing serving as the “bleeding” phase before the profits come. It does not seem they are stopping anytime soon; PayPorte has been verified as a sponsor for AY Live. Is that a good move? Only time would tell.

The Telcos

The sentiments and sensationalism behind voting to keep favourite housemates in the house has always been a no-brainer for telcos. The grand finale of BBNaija alone attracted a record-breaking number of 26 million votes. Each SMS vote cost #30, although voting was not based on SMS only. Do the maths!

Voting business got so serious that celebrities, popular figures and governments also put in funds and influence to ensure their favourite housemates got the highest votes.

The Organisers

Big Brother Naija was produced by Dstv and aired exclusively on channel 165 on the PayTV platform. Besides sponsorships and ad placements, the show reeked in revenue from the sales of application forms, SMS votes, Dstv subscriptions/sales based on the show and many other avenues we might not know. Do the maths!

So now that the curtains have closed and the show is over. Let’s examine all the players: the Organisers, the Sponsors, the Housemates, the Influencers and well, the fans. I think Big Brother Naija showed us how to integrate all kinds of online and offline interactions into creating influential networks that give marketing a life of its own.

In the end, everyone is their own winner.


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