Dr Musekiwa Tapera
All humans are mortal beings who are brought to the world with unique and in some cases special talents and skills.
These natural talents and created skills sustain families, uplift communities and elevate society to levels unimaginable.
The Almighty God created us for a special purpose and at times to serve society without us noticing but if the society does not exploit these naturally endowed talents and skills for societal benefit, they die with us. I not exploited fully, they are ignored and thrown into oblivion.
This is the tragedy of humanity. The one endowed with these natural talents and has skills horned over time does not notice the special naturally gifted talents which give them a tag of a celebrity whose exploits can benefit society to unprecedented levels.
Such was the level of Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi who was given Celebrity Endorsement roles but was not fully utilised or exploited for country marketing and branding. He was an international icon and celebrity of repute who was revered across the globe. He was not fully utilised as a brand ambassador for the benefit of Zimbabwe.
Oliver Mtukudzi popularly known as “Tuku” with his humility, simplicity, enigmatic disposition, charisma, creativity, artistic practically, realistic and with a business acumen could have done more for Zimbabwe’s branding with a properly managed branding strategy.
Indeed some organisations appointed Tuku for leading branding initiatives but on hindsight, it was not to the levels that Yaiso Ndor, Hugh Masekela, Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba, Fela Kuti, Akon, Bob Marley, Peppe Kalle and others from the African continent were utilised. More could have been done to elevate the Brand Status of this great country riding on what God gave us through our God given gem and star called Oliver Mutukudzi.
Lessons from the Cape Town International Jazz Festival
This writer had the privilege like many other Zimbabweans to attend three regional Tuku musical shows and was nagged to think that we were given something special, something out of this world that we did not realise was a gift from God for Zimbabwe. It was mainly at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, that I felt enormously proud to be a Zimbabwean.
The poster did not mention Tuku as a performer on the list of artists from across the globe. It was a list of global, renowned and revered jazz artists at the Cape Town Convection Centre.
However, there was a message on the poster “A Surprise Artist”. We really had a good time. The gigantic venue was full to capacity with over 10 000 merry makers. It was a multi-racial audience comprising political heavy weights of South Africa, regional countries and an international audience.
The atmosphere was electric, exhilarating and explosive to say the least. Bottles of whiskey and champagne were flowing like confetti. Jazz groups were churning hits after hits and the dancing floor was in real trouble. What a great time it was.
Towards the end of the concert, the MC went on stage to announce three times about the surprise artist without naming him.
Hell broke loose on announcing Oliver Mutukudzi. The Convention Center went into delirium, frenzy, uncontrollable excitement, madness and ecstasy. I had seen this in some of Tuku’s concert in SA, Kenya and Zambia but the levels in this Cape Town International Jazz Festival were just too much.
It was quality, clear sound from his Blue Tooth connection behind the stage and his appearance threw the audience into ecstasy.
He played his set of four songs as professionally required at international level but in an unprecedented move, the audience could not have any of it and Tuku was forced to play the 5th song by public demand. Such was the power of Tuku, the international icon in our midst, the husky voice that carried the Zimbabwe’s flag and brand with little notice or exploitation from the brand owners. Many Zimbabweans were filled with a deep sense of national pride, not only with the acceptance of the music icon by an international sophisticated top class audience, to notice audience but the choreography by the Black Spirits, the quality sound, the Zimbabwean flair dressing, the Shona and Ndebele lyrics, the appreciative audience, the dance routines on the floor made us shed tears of joy.
This was Zimbabwe at its best. It made us think that we do not really, deep down know the assets that we hold. We have gems in Zimbabwe both human and material exploited to the full to position Zimbabwe effectively on the global market. Tuku was such a brand and international icon. May His Soul Rest In Peace.
Celebrity Endorsement its value and investment
Celebrity endorsement on Brand ambassadorship has been long utilised as a marketing tool that involves well known persons using their fame to help promote products and services. It is known as celebrity branding.
It is a marketing strategy where a company hires a well-known celebrity, for example, an athlete, actor, actress, musician, footballer etc. to promote their products and services and in turn the celebrity uses their fame, and popularity and fan base to endorse the product thereby increasing its visibility, credibility and sales volumes.
The goal of using a celebrity endorser is to connect with a larger audience which is symbolised by the celebrity’s fan base or following. In this case, Tuku’s brand power, large regional and international following and his credibility, pulling power and acceptance are attributes that could have been effectively utilised to uplift the brand status of Zimbabwe.
Endorsements can take the form of imparting knowledge serving as a spokesperson or model for a product, service or community initiative. The idea of celebrity endorsements also revolves around the possibility that utilising the mass media to spread brand marketing messages may not be efficient.
Instead using individuals who are well known to prospective customers such as celebrities enhances the likelihood that the message will be heard. Many companies use celebrity endorsers because consumers tend to trust and admire celebrities. When celebrity endorsements are used correctly, they can assist in developing brand equity. Celebrity endorsement have been used to gain competitive advantage, grab customer’s attention and enhance market share.
Celebrities are well positioned personalities having a strong appearance and power to pursue the audience either by their attractiveness, expertise or trust with a brand which leads to a conception of a strong brand value in an observers mind. Many people see the lifestyle of a celebrity as a key formula for success and for this reason, try to copy their behavior in order to enhance their self-esteem, feeling more safety using the same product as the celebrity uses.
Picking a celebrity endorser
Organisations tend to pick someone with a good reputation or who is more likely not to be associated with scandals because this may ruin the company’s name or image. In Zambia, to illustrate the above, the public concluded that “If Tuku can use Boom, then it must be a good brand and we can use it too.”
While the above discussion is focused on corporate products and services, the same principles apply to celebrity endorsements associated with county brands.
Tuku’s effective utilization of his iconic status in the arts could be strategically managed to position Zimbabwe regionally and internationally.
It could marginally sway audiences away from a complete negative perception to something acceptable. It would make audiences accept the good that we possess through music and control the stereotype associated with our brand. Perception management is critical in this case.
Tuku’s attractiveness credibility, expertise and reputation are key branding elements that could be leveraged upon for Brand Zimbabwe.
◆ End of part 1. Part 2 touches on sources of celebrity endorsement