Same Script, Different Cast – By Abubakar Ibrahim

Someone tell me where in advertising did we have an element of deceit to get the consumer to patronize whatever? How come advertisers always twist fictions only for one to patronize the product or service to learn the real facts? The legal sector in Ghana is so lax and boring. How interesting it would be to hear some of such cases taking center stage in most of courts to get advertisers to sit up and deliver as they promised.

I am sure you noticed with excitement the furore when one private monitoring agency came out to say that the Brand Ghana office is a big waste of the tax payer’s money. A lot of argument ensued with the gentleman at the helm of affairs at Brand Ghana office saying we did not understand what the whole concept was about. Since when did common sense became rocket science for the street wise Joe?

I constantly keep giving my grandma so much credit for nothing but for the fact that I know there are lots of offices that she can run with panache in this country at her age (she is over eighty if you care to know). From what you see when you board South African Airways down south to landing in South Africa to experiencing their nice sights and sounds to the time you depart the country; it tells you there is a ‘Proudly South African’ products or services on display.

We all know that an empty sack cannot stand; it won’t therefore be asking for too much when some of us say that we don’t have the requisite quality to be asking of branding the country. Do we go branding when basic services in the country are lacking? Talk of poor or no water to major parts of the city, customer service is either non-existent or an apology of it is extended by both government and private businesses.

You would need to be lucky to enjoy 24 hours Electricity service and our road networks are nothing to write home about. Won’t Ghana as a country do itself a big favor by doing house cleaning before going worldwide branding? Nigeria with all the ills she is associated with in the West have a great ad on CNN and other powerful media telling the world what it can savor once they land in the green and white country. Do we even have street names and address that we can easily be traced to?

I don’t want to mention the ‘!ncredible !ndia’, ‘Malaysia, truly asia’ and the likes because that would sound too embarrassing considering what we call our Brand in Ghana. India boasts of some of the best technicians around the world; they have the Flora and Fauna to go with their !ncredible !ndia branding. I believe we have traffic jams and Ghana Man Time to equal that feat by India. Every country is beset with problems but do we have our basics sorted out?

We don’t even know what our definition of Brand is in Ghana. Brand Ghana is a white elephant whereas the former Reorientation office had an umbrella on its head covering grounds for the then party. Brand Ghana did well to take advice from the entire Ghanaians. They wanted to know from Ghanaians what the Brand should reflect or what? For publicity I will give them 100% marks (clap, clap, clap, cheers, boos and hurray!).

Ghana had a great showing at the 2006 WC in Germany, so what did we use that free ad to sell? The Black Stars? They were already sold out; even the blind knew that, so we needed to sell something not on display. Kentes, Ghanaian foods and recipes, our tourist sites, investment opportunities etc were all for the taking because we had the world at our feet. The world was knocking and we had ear phones in our ears listening to the sounds of Egya Koo Nimo with our doors locked.

Being confused blonde, Ghana went through a state of puberty unaware of her identity. At one point we were a fair Barbie doll before we got to be a coloured Barbie desperately in dire need for belongingness.

God being a Ghanaian gave us the second chance to correct our follies. In walk an African WC 2010 on African soil. We went as far as the last eight in a do or die group; a stage better than our previous showing. This was prior to Obama’s visit and Ghana discovering oil which was perfect timing with an icing to sell Ghana.

Who needs a Brand when the brand does not know what it stands for? What are our national agendas and/or policies for continuous development of the people and all the other facets of life for example? What is rebranding if our governments keep building open gutters? If those in charge know what their rights are and want respect but are not keeping their end of the bargain how credible will the brand be?

We need to start in kindergarten to change attitudes but how do you do that when you have a bunch of ill responsible adults dumping refuse and other foreign materials other than water in open gutters? If we have an orphanage near a brothel then we are sending the right message I guess. You tell me you have a brand to sell as a country when people are selling on pavements?

There is a lot more than paying lip service to it when you talk about selling a brand. You first need to create the product first, package and brand it, protect it and sell it. What you sell must also be appealing and deliver what it promises. When attitudes keep getting in the way of the Ghanaian you come preaching Brand Ghana. Do we go ahead and preach to the choir as if the choir does not sing for church service every week?

I remember in 2004 Ghana Airways was organizing prayers to salvage the airline from Absalom when some departments need toners and cartridges for their printers to get some job done! Others just needed computers to enhance their work while there were class one pcs adorning the offices of supposed departmental heads. Is that our definition for productivity? Praying to God to save you when you have done little to save yourself?

Local products like golden tree chocolate is so expensive Ghanaians consider it a luxury to enjoy a bite. In a game of pretense you do your bit and the other party either acknowledges or ignores it. Once we are no longer at ease maybe the gods are angry because as it stands the center cannot simply hold! Brand Ghana? Please come again!!!!

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