Is the Mo’Hits Brand Sailing or Ailing?

Posted: November 4, 2009 in Blog party
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Wande Coal, performing with Ikechukwu, the latest Mo' Hits crew member, earlier this year (PHOTO Hycinth Iyeorosa)

Paul Uche Briggs

As Wayne Colloway puts it, “In a fast-paced world, today’s popular brand could be tomorrow’s trivia question.”

Since the time Dapo ‘D’Banj’ Oyebanjo arrived on the music scene in Nigeria, a great deal of verve, enthusiasm and brand sense has been infused into the music industry.

I have come to respect D’Banj and the Mo’Hits crew over the years for their understanding of branding. Before the Mo’Hits crew, branding was an alien concept to Nigerian music and no music practitioner could boast of attempting to build a brand. Even the world famous Kenny ‘Keke’ Ogungbe and Dayo ‘D1’ Adeneye were found wanting in this regard as they rested on their oars, assuming a status of invincibility in business – a colossal mistake which led to their demise as new brands like SoundCity and Nigezie soon took over their turf.

But I digress. People all over the world just love D’Banj. Many times, the reason for this affection eludes many. His knowledge of music or dexterity on the musical instruments may not be as exciting as Age Beeka’s or Asa’s but D’Banj represents a very touching symbol – an invitation to indulge. So when D’Banj hit the industry, people connected with his vigour, strength and dexterity on the harmonica.

On the precipice of his staggering brand equity, a strategic decision was made to extend the brand, sprinkling the genius of Don Jazzy [D’Banj’s producer and personality foil] on more artistes and so the Mo’Hits crew was born, parading a constellation of stars like Wande Coal and Dr. SID.

Every element of the Mo’Hits crew pointed inevitably to professionalism at its peak; the carefully created blend of the extroverted D’Banj and the seemingly camera shy boss Don Jazzy created the desired crossover appeal.  D’Banj’s obsession with screaming his name on every track, the catch phrases [Fi le! Don’t Touch It!] which fall effortlessly from the lips of every Nigerian and their strategic PR deployments which created an illusion of a ubiquitous brand positioning all added to creating the Brand we have all come to know as D’Banj and the Mo’Hits crew.

So what indents appear on this picture perfect story?

Asides the shabbily rendered Koko Mansion, some of the Mo’Hits crew’s strategic brand decisions have been somewhat questionable. Wande Coal who joined the family a few years ago has been a huge source of inspiration. His mellifluous voice sprinkled with a tinge of the Yoruba diction coupled with his ability to write songs which connect with a vast audience make him an undoubtedly great artiste. His album, “Mushin 2 Mo’Hits” is arguably the most sought after album in the year 2009. It is thus shocking that the crew has decided to downplay the genius of Wande Coal to allow for attention on the mother brand – D’Banj.

This is a major problem brands face when discerning when to engage in line extension. Needless to say that the step taken by Mo’Hits to build D’Banj’s brand at the expense of Wande Coal’s was not well thought out as it cost him [and by extension, The Mo’Hits crew] the MAMA awards for Best New Entry which went to MI; and that is not to say that MI is not the Mr. Incredible. But in my candid opinion, Wande Coal has a larger appeal, touching emotional cords across every sphere of life. Indeed, it might sound presumptuous, but M2M is the best album to come out of the Mo’Hits family ever.

Musical videos are nothing more than adverts for artistes and as such the adverts must be relevant and resonate with the target audience. Hence, the decision to shoot two world class videos [“O Gbonna Feli Feli” and “Kimon”] from D’Banj’s almost two year old album – “The Entertainer” at the expense of Wande Coal’s was a shoddy shot. In the era of videos like ‘Strong Thing” by Banky W, “Safe” by M.I., and “Not the Girl” by Darey Art Alade, it appears Wande’s video, “You Bad” was shot using a 1.5 mega pixel Nokia camera phone.

Understandably, based on Wande’s skill, it was necessary to avoid a situation we refer to as ‘cannibalization’ where a sub-brand’s equity and sales exceed and subsequently swallow that of the parent brand. However, due to the way Wande Coal was introduced, it would be impossible to erase the perception of D’Banj’s boy from their minds. An extra precaution of producing sub-standard videos for the talented artiste was unnecessary. This has compromised the positioning of the crew as Nigeria’s premium brand; with counterparts like Chocolate City closing the gap.

Studying the meta-branding philosophy which posits that the strength of a parent brand would rub off on a sub-brand and vice versa, it was indeed wrong to neglect Wande Coal. Akon did a great job with Konvict Music as he strategically positioned a sub-brand – T-Pain. Another example is ROC’s ability to give Kanye West some brand autonomy, independent of the mother brand – Jay-Z. The 2009 Forbes review showed that Jay-Z and Kanye West ranked 1st and 3rd in the world’s highest earning rappers for the year, grossing 35 and 25 million dollars respectively.

In the light of the foregoing and the embarrassing outcome of Koko Mansion, one is forced to question the state of Nigeria’s biggest music empire.

Paul Uche Briggs, a budding Brand Scholar cum Consultant, writes from Lagos.

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Comments
  1. Tega's girl says:

    Am glad sum1 other than myself is appalled and disappointed at not only WC’s “You bad” video but also in the BUMPER TO BUMPER video as well. I totally agree that it would be hard to distance WC from d “D’banj’s boi” image but (and i say this wit no malice) if Tuface can get away 4m d KeKe and D1’s boi image so can HE,afterall they i.e TuBaba and Kennis still have a cordial relationship. Dnt even get me started on KoKo Mansion.

  2. This is a poorly written article. Too heavy on the writer’s opinion, even when facts are needed. For instance, how did he arrive at the conclusion that Mo-Hits is the biggest empire in the Nigerian music industry? And ‘Empire’ in what sense? Is there even any such thing as an empire in the Nigerian music industry? And the emphasis on ‘branding’ suggests (or reveals, even) that the writer (assuming you can call the producer of such drivel that) is one of those advert agency types who happened to miraculously get space on one of the coolest newspapers in Naija. Come on, who picks these things? And, yes, MI, by any stretch of any hack writer’s imagination, DESERVED his MAMA awards.
    I also can’t get over the blatant ignorance the writer displayed by declaring music videos to be: “Musical videos are nothing more than adverts for artistes”. For starters, they are called ‘Music Videos’, not ‘Musical Videos’ as the hapless writer struggles to express erroneously. And they are not adverts, they are music videos, duh! They are art, studied in school and expressed by greats including Spike Jonze, Hype Williams and even Martin Scorcese when it tickles his fancy.
    I have a problem with many (not all) reviews in the Nigerian media: Ignorance. Of the material/work/artiste being reviewed, its genre, its relevance, etc. I was going to scold NEXT with a stern “Tut-tut!”for letting just anyone ramble on about other people’s hard work. But hey, it did say at the bottom of the writer of the article that he’s a [sic] ‘budding Brand Scholar cum Consultant’. No wonder. Oh, and I’m not even a fan of D’Banj!

  3. Abdulkareem Baba Aminu says:

    This is a poorly written article. Too heavy on the writer… Read more’s opinion, even when facts are needed. For instance, how did he arrive at the conclusion that Mo-Hits is the biggest empire in the Nigerian music industry? And ‘Empire’ in what sense? Is there even any such thing as an empire in the Nigerian music industry? And the emphasis on ‘branding’ suggests (or reveals, even) that the writer (assuming you can call the producer of such drivel that) is one of those advert agency types who happened to miraculously get space on one of the coolest newspapers in Naija. Come on, who picks these things? And, yes, MI, by any stretch of any hack writer’s imagination, DESERVED his MAMA awards.

  4. Abdulkareem Baba Aminu says:

    (Continued) I also can’t get over the blatant ignorance the writer displayed by declaring music videos to be: “Musical videos are nothing more than adverts for artistes”. For starters, they are called ‘Music Videos’, not ‘Musical Videos’ as the hapless writer struggles to express erroneously. And they are not adverts, they are music videos, duh! They are art, studied in school and expressed by greats including Spike Jonze, Hype Williams and even Martin Scorcese when it tickles his fancy.

  5. Abdulkareem Baba Aminu says:

    (Continued) I have a problem with many (not all) reviews in the Nigerian media: Ignorance. Of the material/work/artiste being reviewed, its genre, its relevance, etc. I was going to scold NEXT with a stern “Tut-tut!”for letting just anyone ramble on about other people’s hard work. But hey, it did say at the bottom of the writer of the article that he’s a [sic] ‘budding Brand Scholar cum Consultant’. No wonder. Oh, and I’m not even a fan of D’Banj!

  6. anwuli says:

    I so agree with Abdulkareem. This is a poorly written article and very presumptious.No facts. It would have helped if the writer interviewed people to buttress his points.Tsk Tsk.

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  8. Dro says:

    I definitely see the writer’s point. a brilliant one.