By Gilbert Alasa.
As a first-timer, picking your way through the lush scenery of Carter Lounge, a popular viewing centre at Isheri, Lagos evokes everything vibrant. From the squeaky music blaring from the console of the in-house DJ to the cultured touch of the young men and women trooping the lounge, the atmosphere beams with measured radiance. The youths, like this writer, who throng this venue weekends are fresh; so are their minds, their tastes and preferences.
But something keeps contrasting this youthful aura each time I visit. It is the Chivita 100 percent advert with Manchester United which shows up in-between key soccer games. Recall that in late October 2014, Manchester United announced a multi-year sponsorship deal with the leading fruit juice brand which allows Chi use the club’s legendary crest and imagery on a range of its products in Nigeria.
However, the story is not so much about the 1-2 million pounds annual deal. And please, forget the cool colours of the ad that make you want to grab some ice-cold Chivita. Forget Van Persie’s razor-kick that brings to mind the 3-0 demolition of Aston Villa in Sir Alex Ferguson last season at Old Trafford. That’s not the point.
Now, there’s something particularly off-putting about this Chivita 100% ad. The commercial first hit the screen about two years ago when many juice brands joined the 100% natural train. But to have kept the same ad running all these – even as I write this piece – raises curious questions about the brand’s message to a discerning audience. And I wonder what explanation its handlers would give for this oversight – or is this deliberate?
If anything, the content and theme of that ad have been outdated. Some of the players used for the ad had since been shipped out of the 20-time EPL title-winning club. And to have imagined, for instance, that Radamel Falcao still pops up in that ad is a big paradox for consumers who have been disappointed in the Colombian international’s phenomenal dip in form. In his entire spell at Old Trafford, the Colombian managed a miserable four-goal tally in all appearances; a feat which 18-year old Rashford has surpassed just a slew of appearances.
Falcao’s status as a flop following a switch to Stamford Bridge is enough to make a discerning consumer distance themselves from a brand. Or how do you expect a wailing Chelsea fan to jump up in excitement at the mention of Falcao? Like Man United fans, the inclusion of a Falcao in a line-up stirs some fury and distrust in the hearts of Chelsea fans. These emotions are understandable. But for Chivita, the brand seems to be cool with its association with a faded star whose exploits have since become a subject of history.
While Angel Di Maria may be flourishing in French side Paris Saint-Germain – after failing to make a mark in England, the appearance of stonewashed Dutch striker Van Persie on the scene and an out-of-form Johnny Evans is probably not the best way to sell a brand that preaches 100 percent performance and results. Elsewhere, that advert ought to have been stopped long ago, especially when you consider that two good EPL seasons have almost gone past the bridge since the ad first showed up.
Handlers of this brand may need to be reminded that they have been preaching a stale gospel whose capacity to win souls has dimmed in geometric ways. And to have associated a brand with football stars – who, for the most part, have been sub pars for two consecutive seasons – defeats the very message the brand intends to communicate. As everyone must have realised, associating a brand with an iconic superstar should never remain as a marriage of convenience. Once those attributes that sparked the relationship wither, there’s really no point holding on to a lost paradise.
Agreed, Chivita brokered a multi-year deal with the two-time European champions, meaning that the campaign could run for more than a season. But what happens when the content of the commercial creates more apathy more than it inspires consumers’ confidence in the brand? What happens, from my experiences, when consumers no longer believe in the brand’s message – just like the case of these Man United players? What about tweaking the ad to reflect the exploits of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and perhaps David De Gea who are some of the brightest stars to dot the Theatre of Dreams in recent times?
Of what essence is a commercial that evokes awful memories in the psyche of soccer fans? If Chivita is serious about its 100 percent campaign, they should zoom the lens on these new club sensations who represent the true colours of 100 percent performance.
By Gilbert Alasa.