Celebrity endorsements have become widely acclaimed in industries which hitherto had no ties with Showbiz. The corporate and the political worlds now conjoin celebrities in their advertisements and campaigns. In the United States of America (USA), Oprah Winfrey, Jay Z and Beyonce, P. Diddy, amongst others endorsement of President Obama is believed to be one of the main reasons why Barack Obama entered the white house. It is also accounted for the main reason why in 2008, the USA elections witnessed more youth voting.
In the heat of the political campaigns in Ghana, the National Democratic Congress (NDC)’s presidential candidate, outgoing President John Dramani Mahama had two huge endorsements from foreign celebrities. Even though in Ghana countless celebrities had endorsed him, in the last minutes of the campaign, the NDC campaign focused its message on the endorsements from Nkem Owoh aka Osuofia, a Nigerian Comedian cum Actor and Publisher of the celebrated Ovation Magazine, Dele Momodu.
Although Hanks Anuku, another Nigerian Actor had endorsed and predicted win for Nana Addo Dunkwa Akufo-Addo, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) did not focus much of their message on that. Undeniably, the NPP capitalized on that to buttress their points but Hanks Anuku’s endorsement in the NPP campaign was akin to spiting in the Korle lagoon.
The truth is, the typical Ghanaian electorate is more discerning now. The autopilot type of voting where a person votes for a party because he/she belongs to an ethnic group is gradually dissipating. Even though Ghana’s democracy is still growing, research has revealed that the youth in Ghana in particular are influenced by the state of the economy and their employment status when they are making decision of whether to maintain a ruling government or change for another.
If Ghana is doing well or not or if the president is working or not, it would not take a foreign celebrity and publisher who lodge in Fiesta Royale, Holiday Inn or Oak Plaza when he is in Ghana to make me aware of that. As a discerning Effiakuma-Newsite Ghanaian youth, I am able to tell what is working from what is not.
Personally I think that some of the Ghanaian media have not been fair to President Mahama in many ways as most of his infrastructural achievements went uncovered. In an attempt to vuvuzela the massive infrastructural developments that the President boldly boasts of, the NDC campaign centred on the Osuofia and Dele endorsements to the extent that a whole edition of Ovation magazine was dedicated to the good works of the Mahama administration.
To some, these publications and advertisements were exaggerated; whilst pictures of some of the infrastructures ‘which do not exist’ (according to some section of the media) were captured in the publication, Osuofia also glamorized the Kwame Nkrumah interchange as if this is the first time Ghanaians who have not had the opportunity to travel to developed countries are seeing interchange and lightening for the first time. And what infuriated others is the speculated $50, 000 paid to Osuofia for that endorsement.
Amongst top 10 public relations mistakes is ‘Too much hype.’ Though hype is to be positive but being superlative about it arouses suspicion in the target audience. In appealing to a targeted audience, viable facts should be the focus whereas generalizations and exaggerations should be avoided at all cost.
Undeniably, the Osuofia brand is near defunct in Ghana so to use him as a main character to drum into the minds of Ghanaian electorates what the president is doing and doing well is ‘too much hype.’
Author: Nana Kwesi Coomson (www.233times.com) @nkcoomson on Twitter