By Judith Ufford

DRIVING along the ever-busy Bank Anthony Way, in Ikeja, one will not fail to notice the campaign banner stretched through the length of the road. One’s curiosity is immediately aroused by the campaign message: “Lagos Own the Game”.

And the   question that readily came to mind was how come Lagos is suddenly claiming ownership of the round leather game? When did the Centre of Excellence become the seat of ‘crazy’ football fans.

A few days ago Vanguard Metro was privileged to run into a certain  Mr. Israel Opayemi and he provided answer to the question in the light of the  on-going FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria of which Lagos is a host centre.

“This theme of ‘Lagos Own The Game’ has both the outward and inward messaging dimensions.

The City Champions all ready for action

On the outward, it is declarative in intent to the extent to which it tells both domestic and foreign visitors that this is indeed the destination of a people on top of the game of life.

On the onward part, the motif is an admonition and a call to action for Lagosians to own their game of life and take social ownership of the FIFA U-17 World Cup,” he explained.

Mr. Opayemi who is  the Country Executive Director, Nigeria of Wisdom Keys, a marketing communications company with headquarters in South Africa, then went on to inform that their brief is to handle  all the marketing communication services for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup required by the State  to support  the Lagos Sub-seat of the LOC.

According to Opayemi, an awareness campaign for the World Cup was introduced with a three-day activation road show woven around the concept of City Champions who were presented as typifying the giant strides Lagos has attained under the present administration.

“A set of heavily built giants were auditioned and positioned as handlers of the campaign at strategic locations across the city of Lagos from September 28 -30, 2009.

This was doubtless one of the most exciting campaigns in our clime in recent times, even if I say so. It achieved the purpose for which we designed it; to startle people, get them asking questions and get them talking about it”.

Opayemi then went on to explain the story behind the campaign. “We plotted the arrival of the City Champions as strange beings who typify the towering height and the vibrant spirit of Lagos.

The City Champions are like spiritual beings who represent the spirit of Lagos and who came just to stir the city in readiness for the World Cup and we’ve not drawn the curtain on the acts of the City Champions yet.  They will remain with us till the end of the tournament,” he said.

The idea behind the campaign according to Opayemi is to market Lagos and the efforts of the present administration. “We didn’t lose sight of the destination marketing which is the intent of the campaign.

So, we did this through a visually impactful television commercial to position Lagos as a premium destination for business and leisure. We needed to showcase the new images of Lagos and its beautiful scenery.

So, the environment branding has been quite active with the massive deployment of lamp posts along all the FIFA designated routes, 48 sheet billboards across the state and the branding of the Lagbus buses by the Lagos Sub-seat of the LOC.

We also introduced a new angle which is a theme song titled, Welcome to Lagos, the Home of Football by Sammie Okposo, Segun Arinze, Ego and a host of other upcoming Nigerians musicians.

So far, the Lagos Sub-seat of the LOC  through the support of the State Government has prepared  an Ikeja Fan Park located at Tarmac in Ogba, Lagos. The tent structure has been erected to the delight of residents of that neighbourhood. The area is reputed for being the largest gathering of fun seekers and sellers of local Nigerian delicacies such as asun, suya and pepper soup.”

The second fan park is located in Marina, he informed, adding: “This also has attracted the support of one of the FIFA partners, First Bank.”  FIFA, he also informed has promised an award to the host city with the best public awareness strategy and crowd turn out.

“Lagos has an eye on that award and intends to sustain the present momentum,” Opayemi assured.


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