Lately the music industry has witnessed a new and growing trend that has seen music artists being engaged by the corporate world or even international organisations as their brand ambassadors.
In 2012, mobile phone operator Airtel Malawi announced urban music artist Piksy, real name Evance Zangazanga, as their brand ambassador.
Piksy was involved in producing Airtel’s promotional jingles both for radio and their caller tunes for Yabooka, Timaitha and Club 09 projects. He was also the face of the company in most of their charity undertakings.
Since then doors have opened for more local artists and they have signed up with several organisations and companies for the brand ambassador role.
Local rap star Tay Grin is Astro Mobile Company ambassador while gospel artist Patience Namadingo has signed up with Multichoice Malawi and Eco Bank as brand ambassador for the two firms.
Probably the biggest fall has been on hip-hop star Fredokiss, who apart from signing up with NBS Bank and being a wildlife champion, he has also caught the attention of United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) who have engaged him as a champion for children.
Though relatively new on the local scene this new phenomenon seems to be paying off for both parties. The musicians confess the arrangement has helped open new windows of opportunities for them.
Piksy has fond memories of his three-year stay as Airtel Malawi brand ambassador—a period he credits for boosting his confidence.
“It was a great experience being associated with such a huge organisation like Airtel. Apart from the financial support they gave me, the platform also accorded me a chance to explore other openings as an artist,” said Piksy.
The Uncle Short One hitmaker says organisations need to feel encouraged to engage musicians as brand ambassadors owing to the large following they command.
Fredokiss says as musicians they have given a good case to the corporate world by creating strong and attractive brands whose value is descending musical boundaries.
“For the corporates to take us seriously and decide on partnering us that means they have seen value at the end of the deal. Over the years we have matured and germinated into valuable entities,” said Fredokiss.
Fredokiss, real name is Penjani Kalua, says the effect the ambassadorial roles have had on their personal growth cannot be undermined as they are continuously striving to live and match up to the standards of the brands that they represent in everything they do.
“Being a Unicef Champion for children has helped me to become a better human being, reminding me to take care of each and every child in the best way possible. I try to symbolise that role which each and every one of us is supposed to play.
“The NBS Bank partnership has proved handy too considering the objectives of my Ghetto Gutter Entertainment label which has a vision of creating one million jobs and business opportunities for Malawian youths in five years,” said Fredokiss.
He further says the recognition that musicians are receiving will help inspire aspiring artists and their guardians to embrace music and art talents that youths have as they also have the potential to be used as tools for social change.
Airtel Malawi corporate social responsibility and corporate communications manager Norah Chavula-Chirwa says the partnerships between artists and corporates if well implemented can yield great opportunities for both parties through the resultant brand association.
“There is synergy that can be created from such partnerships and it has proven to work well as a great platform to reveal, nurture and develop local talent. From our experience, our ambassadors have represented us very well,” she said.
But what is involved in identifying a potential brand ambassador and who fits the bill to act as an acceptable brand ambassador?
“This is a mutually beneficial agreement, whose terms are agreed on based on the aspirations and objectives of the two parties. As a brand you would typically engage an individual who reflects the values of your brand. That person will have to represent you brand in various ways and they will have to state their expectations based on their own priorities as well,” said Chavula-Chirwa.