After Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano won his reelection, speculations were rife that he bullied the opposition with the media by denying them opportunity to mount billboards and access radio broadcast.
In this interview with the chief creative officer of Brande Aristotle, Tony Odili, whose company collaborated with Winning Concepts Consortium to handle the media and communication department of Obiano’s campaign, he narrated how the media team helped to set a record of winning an election in all the local governments in the state.
When did the campaign begin?
The campaign started in 2014; it was then that we came up with a different concept which includes branding of the state, the development of colour and composing of state anthem. It was in doing all these that we were inspired to show the people the state has achieved over the years. We had to look for the spirit of Anambra; the adventurous nature of a typical Anambra man. It was what inspired the anthem and other things developed.
What input did branding Anambra add to winning the election?
Anambra indigenes are now proud of their state than they were before. It is because of the good work Obiano has done and the progress we have made from the last time. Branding the state helped the people; they could easily identify with it. It is something they can be proud of. It is what translated to the politics, governance and result of the last election. Branding helped in the campaign, the winning of the election was not a one-day job or one single formula, it is a combination of activities that have taken place. We made Obiano to have a communication goal and all his communication team followed the plan.
The template was simple; everything should be on the spirit of Anambra and Obiano went with the plan he made himself, the brand Ambassador of Anambra; the face of the state. People think election is about splashing money. The campaign started long before the election. It was a combination of development agenda of the government and the reality. It was dissected into the emotional and the rational. Looking at the rational, we said this is a government that has done so much. At a point, we had so many materials of the things he had done. And there were also other things to be done. On this ground, we formed a sentence that covered all these and it resulted into ‘better today…greater tomorrow’. It was easy to sell to the people because they could see what we were saying. It was easier for them to understand. It was a campaign that was based on truth and rationality. We then told the commissioners not to campaign but to be telling and showing the people what they have been doing. While they are doing all these, we were running the engine down.
What about the emotional aspect?
We came up with the ‘Nka Bu Nkanyi’ which means ‘this is ours’. Anambra people have incorporated APGA as their own; we needed to remind the people the ownership of APGA, it does not belong to a singular person but to the people themselves; it is not Obiano or Victor Umeh, it is for the people. It was in developing of that line that the people connected to it; the women, bricklayers and others connected to it.
Do you mean after his tenure he can still be the face of Anambra?
Most definitely, if Obiano leaves office today and decides to run for another thing, he can win. During the election, he was not concentrating on winning his opponents; he was concentrating on keeping the spirit of Ndi Anambra. It was on the same reason he delivered during his first tenure, which made the branding of Anambra and Obiano very simple and didn’t need to lie to the people. It made the branding process more acceptable.
Was branding Anambra part of the agenda of the Biafra nation?
No! It has nothing to do with Biafra, branding Anambra is to lift the spirit of the people. They search for hope and life in all parts of the world.
What about if there is a change of government?
It is already in the State House. Moreover, everybody has accepted it. The people are already using the anthem as their ringing tones and they include even those who contested against him in the last election.
In all, did you ever consider the power of the opposition?
Yes! We were putting our ears to the ground. They were not saying anything. I don’t blame them; they had nothing to say which gave us the opportunity to say more. Some were using gossips against him but we kept on referring the people to the development around them. We realised that the message was sticking in the minds of the people. During the period, Obiano never wanted us to use negative media against his opponents. The opposition was campaigning but was not saying anything. They didn’t focus on a particular message, as a campaign persona, you have to have a particular message and continue to push it; saying one clear message that carries other agenda. It was easier for us to travel into the minds of the people to find our signature and come out.
There is rumour that Obiano used advert agency to fight the opposition?
Many of the opposition did not follow due process before putting their adverts and billboards. There is an agency that supervises advert in Anambra and many of them did not pay for the slots. Moreover, they were not pulled down; they were marked red which means they can be removed if the bills were not paid.