Why the YouTube Nigeria campaign is a simplistic celebration of creative arts

In recent weeks, Google, an Alphabet company has intensified a marketing campaign in Nigeria for one of its notable products (or brands) – YouTube. The campaign is not only Nigeria-centric, but a deliberate strategy to further resonate the online video platform in Africa’s most populous country.

Latching on major connection points peculiar to Nigeria’s online audience; the YouTube campaign is a 360-degree campaign across TV, Radio, online (search, social, display and video) as well as out-of-home channels across major cities of Lagos, Port Harcourt Abuja and other emerging Internet cities.

There are various aspects of the campaign that was spot on while the strategic theme of the message missed it playing along with simplistic stereotypes about Nigerians, Internet preferences and reality.

First, let us look at the highs of the campaign.

For many years, Nigerians have been major contributors to the YouTube community and everything else that makes the platform thick in Africa. The creative industry of music, film and general entertainment have contributed millions of hours to the platform. The decision to run a campaign for the market is long overdue from a customer retention point of view.

The campaign will also resonate with many young people who consume many hours of music videos, comedy skits and films on YouTube. Many content creators will further benefit from the campaign as the heightened awareness level for YouTube will have a ripple effect on their traction for the short and medium term.

On the flip side, Google missed it with its pedestrian portrayal of YoTube. As a product owner, Google tried to play safe instead of using the campaign as an opportunity to show its audience that they can ‘Be More’ with TouTube. The slogan ‘Be You’ within the context it was used is exactly the opposite of what the campaign seeks to achieve. To pigeon-hole the generality of what Nigerians do on YouTube to hip-pop music videos, make up lessons and football vignettes is a convenient and politically-correct output.

As a matter of fact, Google belittled the rich and unparalleled knowledge-sharing superiority that YouTube stands for. YouTube is many things to Nigerians and anyone for that matter than the norm portrayed in the campaign. To be fair to Google, they have looked at the volume of music, films and entertainment contents on YouTube posted by Nigerians and also viewership data. However, the campaign simply played to the gallery isolating many Nigerians who use YouTube for diverse means out of which entertainment is just a given.

Many Nigerians are very proficient in Java, Php, photography, robotics, mechanical and engineering skills, solar and alternative energy, graphic design and animation, data analytics and mining. Many students watch educating documentaries and historical series that broaden their views of the world. Many geniuses share ideas that solve problems for people on YouTube. To restrict the central focus of a YouTube campaign meant for the wider Nigerian audience to the entertainment and creative arts industry is an average score.

One more drawback of the campaign is its weak competitive strength against the reality in the market. Facebook is waxing stronger in the video side of things, especially with its Facebook Live. With the new preference for real-time content, many Nigerian entertainers are more likely to focus on engaging their audience via live contents, an area YouTube has lost grounds to Facebook and even Twitter’s Periscope.

It will be sensible to say the YouTube was created for the creative arts section. Should Google be ready to talk to the rest of the public, the creative managers in Silicon Valley will need to look beyond the simplistic by looking at the bigger picture that YouTube is many things to Nigerians than entertainment.

On a scale of one to 10, the campaign gets a five.

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