Dele was a publicist’s worst nightmare, he had a bad image. Most people who knew him simply regarded him as a proud young man benefiting from the largesse left behind by his illustrious father. And they weren’t particularly wrong. He was truly and indeed a spoilt, lazy, and proud personality. My headache was how to successfully re-brand him. I needed to create a new image. I had to create a new personality. Fortunately, he had friends in high places. His late dad’s friends and associates were ready to stand by him, not really for him but for his dad. Again, it reminded me the role of a father can never be over-emphasised. Leaving a good legacy for our children is a must but there is also the need to teach them how to build legacies on their own.
Dele was practically bad at most things, he didn’t have much business or entrepreneurial skills and though he was in charge of his dad’s many business empires on paper, he only shows up at the office out of necessity, he does nothing save to sign documents and sit at board meetings where his contribution is worth only the seat on which his buttocks rested.
Privately, I told myself I can never vote such a man, I mean he knows nothing yet he wants to speak on behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden. But my job was to create a brand capable of winning elections and that I did. We hired a professional photographer and our first point of call was the popular Lagos BRT. It was hell trying to make Dele agree to work with the concept, but as always, Modupe came to my rescue.
“It makes no sense, why will I board a BRT?
“Because the people need to see you as one of them; that you understand what they are going through and you have solutions. People don’t easily warm to someone who intimidates them. It’s why the poor man finds it difficult sustaining a conversation with a rich man. He is intimidated by the man’s wealth. But a rich man with enough effort can come down to the level of the poor man and relate well”
“I don’t care dude. My campaign team say I don’t have to do it”
“That’s because they are rich idiots like you” I said irritated. He gave me a look that said I can destroy you in a second but I wasn’t about to back down.
“Are you out of your mind? Turning to Modupe, he said “really who is this guy? I am not doing that shit and that’s it”
Modupe who had been quietly observing us as we quibbled back and forth stood up and firmly said “Yes you are going to do it okay? You have to listen to him”
She then turned to me and said “Etuhu, can you please excuse us for a few seconds?
“Sure” I said as I walked out of the room. I opened the door and shut it after me but rather than move away, I stayed by the door and listened to the conversation. I needed to have an idea what was been discussed.
“What is all that crap Dupe, I don’t need you embarrassing me in front of some wimp” I cringed at the language. What a complete joke.
“What is wrong with you? I heard Modupe reply. “The reason we brought him was because the idiots you gathered as a campaign team have made absolutely no success in the last three months. You are a spoilt brat and we needed someone who can rub it in your face and teach you humility. Etuhu is that guy”
“Oh really? Why don’t you date him then?
“Come on, don’t be a baby. You cannot continue acting like a ten year old. What has dating him got to do with this? She said and I detected frustration in her voice.
“I am repeating it again, I am not doing that shit” I heard his footstep approaching the door, he was going to walk out on her, I made moves to run but Modupe’s reply stopped me. I heard her say “If you walk out of that door, its over between us” It made the same effect on Dele as the footsteps stopped abruptly.
“What is that supposed to mean? Dele said in an emotional laden voice. He was still close to the door. I knew I needed to be careful, so I walked away from the door. I wished I could hear the next part of the conversation, wisdom however demanded that I left.
When I was recalled, Dele was sitting on the sofa like a subdued lion and I couldn’t help but wonder how the conversation ended. I really needed to understand the type of relationship between them.
“Thanks for your patience Etuhu; we will do the BRT strategy so just give us the concept”
“That’s great” so I gave them a brief of the plan. “I have hired a few of my social media friends who would retweet it live. we will use the hash tag #DeleIsOneOfUs and . He would dress in casual jeans and polo. He would interact with the people on the BRT and ask them what they think should be the focus of his agenda if he is elected. Basically, what we are trying to show is that Dele is humble and down to earth”
Whatever Modupe told Dele worked like magic. He was calmer and unusually gentle as I taught him for two days what he needed to do for Project BRT. He was a good learner and grabbed issues at once. I rarely had to repeat myself. I was so impressed with his conduct.
The campaign worked. Dele interacted with a pregnant woman. He sat beside her and asked how comfortable it was for her to board the Bus, he spoke to a school boy and gave him a box of chocolate. He laughed and made jokes with others on the bus. At a point there were too many people coming into the Bus making it all hot and smelly but his altitude was on point. He didn’t give away his frustration even though I knew he must have been at a point.
Our photographer did a good job with the images produced; they really projected what I had in mind.
Before we alighted from the bus, we made sure everyone on board was at N3,000 richer. That was the idea of the Campaign team and it also made sense. Money dictates a whole in our political arena.
For two hours we had twitter on lock down. #DeleIsOneOfUs trended for days. we got people talking and that is the first step in re-branding: change the conversation.
It was a great strategy and I was happy at the result.
However, crisis soon dialled the social media team and the entire Dele4Rep Campaign Organisation, totally knocking us off our perch….