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Portability: Lessons in MTN, Etisalat’s Saka phenomenon

By Princewill Ekwujuru

If it is business, good, if it’s ambushing, not palatable, but if it is on the monetary side, good business for Saka, but yet questions would be asked why Hafiz  Oyetoro otherwise known as ‘Saka’  dumped Etisalat for MTN.? What was the contractual agreement with Etisalat.? Or could it be the portability switch that prompted the move, what lesson?.

These and more questions keep popping up in the mind. However,  in some quarters it is kudos for the agency and whosoever that may have pouched ‘Saka’.  And knocks for any person that  did not do his home work  well to have tied ‘Saka’ to a contractual agreement if any existed.

Information filtering in had it that ‘Saka’ never had any contractual agreement with Etisalat, but some quarters said, there was, whatsoever, a new record has been set in the marketing communications landscape. Marketing is a game of opportunities. Find a loophole in a competitor, capitalise on it, use it to your advantage. Snake swallows snake. That’s the case of MTN. They did try the ‘Saka’ phenomenon with Osofia, Mama Gee and others, but they knew that if it’s not ‘Saka’, who else.  This is a strategic move by MTN for the portability season.

However, the power and freedom of choice rests with the subscriber, in this dispensation from what is envisaged. If a customer is dissatisfied with the service of a particular network, such person can ‘port’ to another network, Eugene Juwah, Executive Director, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, told Journalists at a recent function.

In retrospect, brand custodians, advertising practitioners, marketing Director  watch from a distance the recent ‘Saka’ phenomenon as one  can only ponder  to this timeless advertising jugular.

*Hafiz Oyetoro aka Saka

Like in  the view of Mr. Kachi Onubogbu, Commercial Director of  Promasidor Nigeria Limited, who said that what the ‘Saka’ imbroglio has clearly shown is that brands would now like to have a working document that clearly defines the term of contract with models; like what the liabilities are to both the company and the model, companies will now watch the kind of contract they are going into with models, even though the brand(s) cannot tie down somebody  to say you will only work for me, but will surely be a definitive contractual terms.

Invariably, Kehinde Bademosi, a former Creative Director with CentreSpread and currently the International Chief Imagination Officer at Orange Academy, put it; Bademosi who said he was privileged to have participated in creating the iconic ‘Saka’ for advertising, pointed out, saying,  “I watch as this device takes on a life of its own and how it is gradually becoming a major case study in the history of Nigeria’s advertising.

According to him,  “Saka was not a celebrity before Etisalat discovered him. Rather, he was a character we at Centrespread designed for an ad campaign that has come to take on a life of its own. When we did create the character, we needed a talent that could act the role and he came in for the casting like any other person. Looking at the screen test later on, we had no doubt that ‘Saka’ was the man we were looking for. You must give credits to Etisalat to have approved of our direction and choice. It really was not their ‘type’ of advertising. So, it was not a case of celebrity endorsement, it was a case of characterization.


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