It all started as an enigma. It's barely a week since the hit new single 'Oliver' from Nigeria's D'Banj hit the internet and millions of listens later, its catchy tune has lit up clubs, resurrected Dickens and literally set Youtube on fire. The unconventional release of the 'Oliver' track and the viral strategy behind it could be the new face of entertainment marketing in Nigeria and possibly around the World. The form of strategy that engages the audience right from the day the track is released.
The aim of the strategy is to create a competition where users can upload their dance rendition or short spoof video to the newly released single. The bevy of videos are uploaded on Youtube and the buzz is history. Mo' hits Honcho Don Jazzy and 'Notjustok.com' had previously experimented with such strategy by releasing a beat for anyone to lace on and rewards were given to the most voted record. The beat was titled Enigma and was released a few weeks ago with the aim of giving upcoming acts a chance. He engaged with the audience, gave 1000's of up and coming acts the opportunity to shine and he made their dreams come true by allowing them to be heard or get one form of publicity that most starters yearn for either through Twitter, Facebook or Youtube subscriptions.
There's a strong possibility the success of the 'Enigma' track and the audience response had a great role to play in the strategy behind Oliver's release. It's a new wave, 'Enigma' was a test run for audio and it worked extremely well with IBK winning the competition and now 'Oliver' is sort of a test run for video and it is set to work out extremely well also. The competition is also not restricted, any citizen of the world can upload their rendition.
Oliver did not even have to be a great song, the short clip recorded by the Mo' hits crew was enough to render the track and D'Banjs upcoming album certified successes. Whether you like the lyrics or not, the fact that you would keep watching user renditions of funny clips means you would love it, it would be part of your subconscious and you'll probably hear it in your dream.
#Oliver has been trending on twitter since the day the song was released and I can assure you the trend would not fade out anytime soon. Don Jazzy has promised rewards for some of the winning videos such as cash prizes, Koko mobile handsets and cameos in the official 'Oliver' video.
The Mo' hits guys have charted another course that should be emulated by other acts and entertainers worldwide. It's a form of Marketing 101 for other entertainers and the underlying theme is to 'Always find avenues to engage your audience'. The user submitted videos are the publicity warm-ups to the release of his album. It's the cheapest but one of the most productive marketing strategies ever.
It has gotten to a point people are not dancing because of the prize, they are doing it because it is fun. Most of the users uploading their videos just signed up to Youtube for the first time and that's enlightenment to the Nigerian community of Youtube's power. Most of these Users can eventually make money from their videos by signing up for Youtube partnership and make money in form of pre-roll advertisements and so on. There's a host of possibilities of what this simple competition can lead to for both Mo' Hits and the Fans. It's a Pandora's Box for spoofs that Don Jazzy has opened and 'Oliver' would not be the end.
We need more Producers from all over the world to create an 'Enigma' or 'Oliver' style competition. It's sort of a Lean sigma way to find acts instead of a 15 week 'Idol' process. You are building the next generation and giving a gift to an upcoming underground artiste out there even if it is in the form of one new follower. It would go a long way.
D'Banj has been able to release 4 solid singles from the tentatively titled Mr. Endowed album (Mr. Endowed, Mr. Endowed remix, Scape Goat and Oliver) and its certain majority of the next MTV Africa Awards Plaques would have his name engraved on them.
For other Entertainers and Marketers in general, it's time to Step up your audience engagement, reward some for their loyalty and in the process, their engagement becomes your publicity and your track or product becomes viral. It's just an ingenious marketing strategy, Cheap but Efficient.
On the '#Oliver' competition, Most of the video submissions on Youtube have been wonderful, 'Sandicine' was great, 'Anonymous' had its funny bit, but I'm rooting for 'Stillthebaddest21', she's got some fantastic moves there and ace Nigerian Director Gbenga Salu has chosen to teach every other person how it's meant to be done. Dickens would probably be doing some "Rebete!!!!, Rebete!!!!, Rebete!!!!" dance wherever he is now. Let's see how it goes and wait for the Don to speak.
To see more 'Oliver Twist Competition' videos check out the links on @Donjazzy's twitter Page or Youtube 'Oliver Twist Competition'.
In other news, John Howard Davies - the child star of Oliver Twist died August 22 at his home in Blewbury, England. R.I.P.