Are Nigerian brands fulfilling their purpose in this Covid-19 pandemic?

About a week ago I wrote an article on my LinkedIn page stating how UK distilleries are supporting the fight against Corona Virus by converting part of their capacity to produce hand sanitizers and giving these sanitizers to communities free.

A lot has happened in Nigeria between that article and now. Some Nigerian brands have stepped up to the plate to be counted in terms of fulfilling some humanitarian purpose. I’ll mention a few here.

GT Bank fired off with the delivery to Lagos state of a 100-bed ICU unit fully equipped with Ventilators all within one-week.
The United Bank for Africa (UBA) announced a donation of 5 billion naira (about $13 million) to provide beds for isolation centres, intensive care unit facilities and direct access to medical advice to up to 450,000 citizens every day

Wealthy members of the private sector, including Femi Otedola (Forte Oil) Abdulsamad Rabiu (BUA Group), Herbert Wigwe (MD/CEO Access Bank) Segun Agbaje (MD of GT Bank)and Aliko Dangote (Dangote Holdings), Africa’s richest man, all contributed 1 billion naira (about $2.7 million) each to support the government in curtailing the pandemic in Nigeria. It is worthy to note the collaboration between Access Bank and Dangote in setting up care centres across the country
NNPC also joined the fray with an announcement of a donation of $30 million from the oil industry to support the fight against the virus.

Some individuals and religious bodies have also started community outreach to help curtail the spread of the pandemic as lock-down becomes more imminent.

A pertinent question to ask at this point is do brands really understand their purpose? and how many are willing to put their money where their mouth is, in this case where their commercial bread and butter is?

Some brands are actually coming across as trying to make the most of the situation because their customers must use their products at this time. I observed that DSTV bumped standard subscriptions up to premium for free. Good move. However, a lot of people have asked what are retailers doing? What are FMCGs doing? What are Telcos doing? What are big Pharmacies doing? What are creative Agencies doing? what are our brewers doing?. I might have missed some of their initiatives but these questions are not mine (I may have some privileged information on some of the constraints), but they are from random discussions with various persons and the public who seem to be very aware of the earlier mentioned brands and their support but somehow can’t feel some players in the latter categories just mentioned.

For instance, could retailers agree to home-deliveries for the elderly and most vulnerable? Could FMCG brands make items like water, can restaurants increase more home deliveries, can Media Agencies/media houses collaborate with Creative Agencies to run campaigns, can internet data be cheaper? Can pharmacies not over-price methylated spirits and antibiotics they had in stock for over 6 months

Brands at this time must take a long term look at their brand equity in the wake of this COVID-19 outbreak because when it’s all over consumers may reappraise to their relationships. Will customers be willing to forgive the brands ostensibly exploited them?

In all of these brand cannot play “follow-follow”, they have to be authentic and bring their purpose to life in a unique way within their capacities. For instance, our doctors and nurses are going to be on the front-line, which brand will focus on motivating and incentivising them as their primary mission at this time? Which airline will fly the most medical supplies free?
This is the time for true soul searching for brands in Nigeria

Written by Ekeno Eyo, Chief Operating Officer at Noah’s Ark Communications


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