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15 Minutes Of Fame

On Social Media Bestowing Celebrity Status and Brands Hopping On

In the past year in Nigeria and internationally, we have seen the power of social media to bestow celebrity status on everyday people. Everyday people who probably never expected to be popular but, by what may arguably be called luck or the forces of social media reactions smiling upon them, rose to fame.

One of these people was Olajumoke Orisaguna, a bread hawker who by the opportune chance of photo bombing a photo shoot but a recognized photographer became the buzz of social media. The same was the situation with Oresegun Olumide, a hyper-realist whose oil paintings went viral after he put it up on Facebook. His art form, known as realism, was what few had seen before and so well done.

Another Nigerian who was somewhat conferred with celebrity status was Abdulahi Olatoyan, a corporate dressed car wind screen cleaner with a bow, although, he didn’t quite catch the viral flame compared to the other two. Unlike Olajumoke, he didn’t get to pick and choose the brands who came calling. He did, however, get mentioned on a popular Nigerian blog and on CNN.

Across the continent into Pakistan, we identify a similar trend where a chai wallah, Arshad Khan, attained popularity after a photo of him was shared on Instagram by a photo-blogger. The photograph on Instagram gained over 31,800 likes and 3000 comments.

In Afghanistan, a young boy of 5, Murtaza Ahmadi, rose to fame when he was pictured wearing a plastic made jersey of the Argentinean and FC Barcelona footballer, Lionel Messi. After the image of Murtaza went viral on Facebook, there was global search to find the ‘Messi boy’ as he was called. The boy also go to meet Messi, and get an autographed jersey.

What can be identified across all of them was the speed at which they attained scandal free fame, albeit how short lived it may have been. In the case of Olajumoke and Arshad, their rise to fame could be attributed to being identified as diamonds in the rough.

The result of these 10 second pop up celebrities is that they gained the attention of brands. Particularly in the cases of Olajumoke and Arshad, several brands came on the scene to sign them up. The brands sought to key into their fame and possibly make them the actual jewels that they have the potential to be. Success for the brands would have be able to key into a people like me sentiment which could partly be attributed to their rise. One of the brands’ that signed up Olajumoke was able to tie her rise to fame to their existing campaign theme.

The question remains though how strong and sustainable is the strategy of these brands to connect with their consumers via these celebrities. In my opinion, brands hopping on the media frenzy behind these celebrities can work either for or against them. What is of most importance is the approach, not a give and take one but as partnership, working hand in hand with the celebrities to unravel the potential which social media users identified.

The brands partnering with these celebrities would depend largely on the cooperation of these celebrities. Also, the onus lies with these pop up celebrities to develop themselves and bring out their own potential, considering the amount of money they could get paid. Nonetheless, brands could see a greater return of investment on the long term. A greater ROI in terms of a stronger emotional connections with their consumers.

A give and take approach would simply result in brands only being able to use these celebrities until the media find the next juicy bit of news or till social media users find the next meme or trending hashtag.

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