These are exciting times for Ghanaian celebrities, especially the musicians. In less than six months, the likes of Sarkodie, R2Bees and a host of others have racked up endorsement deals, each worth nothing less than 100,000USD.
An encouraging trend by all standards, and from various indications; brands such as RLG are just getting started on paying more Ghanaian celebrities to represent their brands.
As these celebrities start receiving mega payouts, it’s only natural that they begin to look to other avenues to invest their monies and as the trends are beginning to show, our local celebs have begun to follow in the steps of their international counterparts and are investing in personalized product lines, in the hope that fans will buy into these products.
R2Bees is entering the condom business with the “Refuse 2 Be Broke Condoms” as Sarkodie looks to release his “Sark Clothing line” as well as the “Holic H2O”bottles water range. Eazzy is also reportedly set to release her own lipstick brand.
The question therefore is, “Are their brands and fan base strong enough to push these products?
My candid opinion, is NO.
In a country where, fans have consistently been inconsistent in their loyalty to celebrity brands, banking on them to purchase products because a particular celebrity puts their name to it, is unfortunately far-fetched.
Even before the likes of R2Bees and Sarkodie’s sojourn into the business of personalized product lines, the likes of John Dumelo, Prince David Osei and Yvonne Nelson, had already towed the line with “less than successful” clothing lines and in the case of Yvonne, the “YN” range of hair weaves which made little or no impact.
Ghanaian fans, especially music lovers, are historically, not very loyal to their own, and statistics have proven that generally foreign music and its accompanying products [even from nearby Nigeria] have always been much better patronized that those on the local circuit.
As one industry player candidly put it, “If an artiste cannot guarantee that he/she can attract over 10,000 of his/her fans to patronize his concert, how does he expect to convince the same fans to buy a product merely because his/her name is on it” ; A true assertion indeed.
The focus for these celebrities should really be to solidify their fan base, and build a strong and loyal cult-like movement of fans who identify not only with their music [or movies] but also with their personalities and lifestyle.
For an artiste, to be able to successfully engineer a profitable clothing line or lifestyle brand, he/she must be considered by a wide range of fans as a fashion/lifestyle icon, a trend setter whose supposed impeccable taste is followed and adhered to by an almost cult-like fan base.
How does an artiste successfully market their own brand of condoms, when they have built a career on being loyal to the streets [and their hustle ] and are hardly seen as sex symbols.
How does one market, a clothing line, when his/her fans hardly take notice of what he wear; be it on stage or In public appearances; and he is hardly noted as a celebrity fashion icon.
How does an artiste, market a lipstick brand, when she made infamously came to the notice of Africa, through a controversy based on “Brazilian hair”?
These are the questions; our celebrities [and their “YES” managers] should be asking themselves.
Not long ago, the very idea of a celebrity being chased around by fans for autographs, was [and to a certain extent still is] a very unreal possibility. One can however not deny the giant strides that our celebs have made or the change in the psyche of fans over the years.
Nonetheless, no one celebrity in this country can quite boast of commanding such a loyal fan base that they can identify with their every fashion sense and lifestyle choice so much so that they can actually influence them to buy products with their names on them.
Elsewhere in the world, the likes of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Diddy, Kim Kardashian and many others have managed to make their personalized product lines sell because they have consistently and tediously built cult fan bases that spill beyond their borders and are therefore able to influence people’s lifestyle choices and set trends in fashion and many other areas.
It goes without saying therefore that, some of these moves, are “too much, too soon.”