There were scores of Social Responsibility programmes (CSR) and events in the industry last year, some by brands, agencies and individuals last year.  Sound as many of them may seem, only a paltry were groundbreaking, visionary and well thought out. A number were just expressions of the me-too, demeaning, exploitative and outright eyesore.

In other words, there are the good and the bad! But the bad news first!

Thierry Henry & Guinness: The Lost Opportunity

Talking of big budget and humongous scale of projects, the Guinness in continuation of its popular  “Made of Black” campaign brought the football legend, Henry Thierry into the country for three straight days. This is no CSR but real marketing stunt and powerful activation that will definitely cost an arm and a leg if you like. From the press briefing to the Jollof studio, Guinness’ facility tour, Watch a match with Thierry” all were normal activation nothing special or out of the ordinary.

However, little blame for the Nigerian Guinness officials and agencies concerned. Guinness Nigeria is tied to the apron string of its parent’s London office. Every aspect of the contract, itinerary, and all that not would have been itemized and signed off by someone who never knew Nigeria and the Nigerian consumers. It makes execution too straight and static. Whenever this happens the results are predictable and less dynamic compared to the huge costs involved.  A home-made or conceived activation with far less budget would have delivered a more resounding success.Thierry was brought for the consumers, I presume, due to huge popularity but the massive number of escorts and security details kept him too far from the so-called consumers. A more relaxed atmosphere to interact more with the football idol would have delivered better and more intense users’ generated online contents. These will be far more enduring exposures as added benefits to the campaign and the brand at large.

Glo and CSR. Ever heard that?

Read Also:  Coronation Merchant Bank Launches Podcast Series

Globacom has a number of firsts despite coming a couple of years behind the first two telecoms operators. The most gladdening is that when the leaders said per second billing was not feasible, it proved the myth wrong introduced per second billing and others followed suit for the benefit of the Nigerian subscribers. In this stride, it has continued to call the pace in some other areas in the sector.

The company undersea optic fibre cable is also a landmark achievement while its foray into other markets in the sub-region elates the heart of every patriotic Nigeria.

It’s use of Nigerian stars as ambassadors is infectious so also its support movies and entertainment industries while its support for football is exemplary also.

However, one does not know what this great Nigerian iconic brand is doing in Corporate Social Responsibility o sustainability. The use of entertainment, music and others listed above in the promotion of the brand are not an exclusive preserve of the company, others in the industry invest heavily in these properties but still has one or two core CSR interests here they invest to make life better for some Nigerians. What is Globacom doing in this regard? I am yet to hear of Globacom or Glo CSR. A business that makes nothing but only money is a poor business says Henry Ford, an American captain of industry, a business magnate and founder of the Ford Motor Company. Need I say more?  Or is Glo’s a case of doing so much and nothing is hard? No, you can’t be winking in the dark!

What the company listed on its website as CSR are more of sponsorship as route to market than tackling sustainability issues. The list includes Manchester United, CNN African Voices, Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature, National Football Teams, National Team Supporters Club and International Half Marathon. There surely needs to be a rethink here.

The Senator’s CSR

The picture here shows a senator of the Federal republic called Nigeria dolling out cash and bales of clothes to his would be voter in an election yet to come up. Is this CSR or paying for and buying votes in advance. This is not peculiar to Senator Omisore alone, the greatest number of our leaders is guilty, it cuts across all Nigerian politicians. Unfortunately, CSR is so much bastardised that they couldn’t find any name for this indecent, demeaning and arrogant attitude other than CSR.

The Hits:

Publisher’s Choice in Visionary CSR for 2017 is another individual’s effort targeted creating opportunities for the Nigerian vast youth population and enhance the country’s positioning for opportunities in the fast unfolding big data era.

Data Science Nigeria is a professional-led non-profit designed to train and mentor young Nigerians through face-to-face, virtual online classes, project-based support and holiday boot camps. The ultimate intent is to raise a special breed of data scientists and knowledge entrepreneurs who will set up data science based businesses and attract foreign exchange to the nation.

Founded MTN’s executive, Bayo Adekanmbi in his personal capacity, upon his return from a 15-month academic sabbatical for his PhD research on the use of data science for understanding consumer social consumption behavior, the former GM, Business Intelligence and Chief Marketing Officer, MTN  was inspired to commence the vision to make “Nigeria the Data Science outsourcing hub for Africa before 2019 and create 1 million new jobs in the next 10 years”

Data Science Nigeria is driven by a compelling drive to raise a new generation of world-class data scientists, who can tap into the over $125 billion big data analytics market. DSN is poised to ensure that the country can secure at least 2% of this global value, which will mean an over 1 trillion naira economic return through knowledge-based FOREX earning.

The DSN has held two rounds of boot camp and the jobs are coming as promised by the convener. Top 10 participants in the “DSN Customer Segmentation Hackathon” supported and graded by KPMG Nigeria are currently on internships with the multinational consulting firm with a possibility of being employed.

The overall winner, Adeola Balogun got three job offers on the spot while the 1st runner-up, Chibueze Oguejiofor was offered employment by one of the event sponsors, OneFi.

One is mesmerized by the long-term vision to accelerate Nigeria’s development through a solution-oriented application of machine learning in solving social/business problems.

Following closely in our estimation is the 19 years old annual Promasidor Cowbellpedia Mathematics competition. The annual CSR, one of the sponsorship properties owned by the company has a unique appeal as it tends to douse students phobia for mathematics.

Confronting the Morbid Fear for Mathematics

Phobia for The Cowbellpedia initiative comprises of Cowbellpedia Secondary Schools Mathematics TV Quiz Show, Cowbellpedia Radio (a Mathematics class on the radio) and Cowbellpedia Mobile App (Mathematics Q&A mobile application).

These platforms have been able to arouse and re-awaken the interest of students in Mathematics at the secondary school level and further reinforced the importance of the subject.

This is the company’s way of encouraging the Nigerian youth to take interest in education especially the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as against the primordial fear for the subject mathematics.

To a reasonable extent, the project is achieving its goals as its senior and junior arms produce annual winners in a round-robin style.  Winners annually go home with prizes to spur on the students, teachers for the learning and teaching of mathematics respectively. Well thought out project with sound impact in the desired areas.

The Audacious CSR

One Advertising agency in the country that has been bold and consistent in its corporate social responsibility efforts is X3M Ideas. Like its life and existence depended on it, it had consistently without fail in 4 years dutifully carried out initiatives with far-reaching effect on the immediate environment, Lagos and Ikeja in particular especially in its chosen area of interest, education, and youth.

Last year, 2017, to market its 5th year in operation, it added some audacity to its effort as it charted a new path by going outside Lagos, it’s initial catchment area to touch lives in the far and remote Chibok community. A remote area brought to national and international consciousness no thanks to dear devil Boko-Haram.  It made its mark on the Boko Haram devastated Chibok school by providing chairs and tables for learning and making the classes more conducive to teaching and learning.

What makes the effort special and far-reaching is the extra effort needed to get to this highly volatile area. As at August when the project was delivered it takes special audacity for anyone to venture into this area. Going into the area is like signing one’s death warrant. Government officials on assignments and Journalists most times make a detour even when given special escorts.  Intending visitor to this part is always under strict warnings on the danger such trip posts.  Just like its name, X3M Ideas went to the extreme to deliver a social service intended for the benefit of the younger generation of Nigerians in that part and Nigerians in general as leaders of tomorrow. This is the most audacious CSR of 2017, definitely not in capital outlay but it got to and delivered the goods where the deep pockets multinationals dared not.


Written by:  LEKAN AJAYI

This article appeared first in Brand Crunch Nigeria