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TMCNet:  Reality TV Shows - Employment for Youths or Brands' Marketing Gimmick?

[April 28, 2014]

Reality TV Shows - Employment for Youths or Brands' Marketing Gimmick?

(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) For years now, different reality television series and shows have dominated Nigerian television stations. In fact, in a few years time, some reality TV shows will celebrate 10th anniversary of discovering talents from different parts of the country and yet not many of these brand-organised reality television shows, especially those targeted on music, can proudly point to at least five big stars in the entertainment industry made from their stables.


Taking you back to the beginning of reality shows in Nigeria silver screens, one will, to some extent, say that after the first edition of Big Brother Africa (BBA) which took place in 2003 with 12 housemates, drawn from different African countries, Nigeria inclusive, all manner of reality television series have been held and are still been held.

It was after the first edition of BBA television series that Big Brother Nigeria (BBN) took place in 2005 where Katung Aduwak was declared the winner. Katung after his victory, which many thought was not deserved, because he came into the house late, Aduwak was seen at few events, went into film production for a while and then nothing was heard of him until his wedding some years later. The interesting thing is that his fellow housemate, Ebuka, whom many that watched the show religiously had tipped to win but failed to, is doing well as a newspaper columnist and a TV programme host, thanks to the exposure he gained from participating in the show. After that first edition, BBN went under. In 2004, Nigerian Breweries Plc launched Gulder Ultimate Search (GUS and this year, it will mark its 10 anniversary. GUS has this line up of past winners, Ezeugo Egwuagwu who went home with a sum of N3 million and other consolation prizes. The next season, Luncan Chambliss discovered the lost helmet and was crowned the ultimate hero. He smiled home with a cheque of N5 million. Hector Jobereth followed up in third season as the champion and was awarded with a sum of N5 million and an SUV. Dominic Mudabai found the golden age and exchanged it with a cheque worth N5 million, a brand new SUV and other consolation prizes that included a wardrobe allowance. For the fourth season which was held in in Enugu State, Micheal Nwachukwu, found the lost chronicle and was rewarded with a brand new SUV, N7 million, and N500,000 wardrobe allowance. Uche Nwaezeapu emerge the ultimate hero of the GUS 6. He walked home with the sum of N7 million, a brand new SUV and a N500,000 wardrobe allowance.Kunle Aderemi emerge the ultimate hero for the seventh season and was rewarded with N7 million, N500,000 wardrobe allowance and a brand new SUV. The eighth edition saw Okagbue as the winner. He got a brand new SUV, N7 million, and a N500,000 wardrobe allowance.

Pascal Eronmose won GUS 9 while Dennis Okike found 'The Tenth Symbol' and exchanged it for the N10 million cash prize and a brand new Mitsubishi Pajero SUV.

With this sum of money, these young men should be self reliance financially. But that may not the case. Some, according to our investigations, have gone back to square one. Others like Ezugo who once went into power bike business which later failed, and Domnic, the fourth winner of the TV show, were featured as gatekeepers in some editions GUS, aside these few appearances once in a while, most of them are still struggling to be in the public face while others have disappeared from the limelight. Assuming they are still millionaires as expected, were they discovered to become silent millionaires with little or no contribution to the economic well being of the society they live in? They have not been seen yet, to have used the prize money to create more wealth for themselves and other Nigerians through direct job creation by investing the millions in something that will make them employers of labour.

After the last edition, many fans of the jungle hero hunt series may have come to a smart conclusion that women who took part in the Ultimate search are just there to make up the number because they will never win because Guilder is purely a masculine brand. Another reality TV series that popped up and swept its audience off their feet, especially those who dream of becoming movie stars, was The Amstel Malta Box Office Show popularly known as AMBO which was launched in 2005. To its credit, AMBO succeeded in producing top actors like Azizat Sadiq, O C Ukeje , Bhaira McWizu, Adewole Ojo and Ivie Okujaye. O.C Ukeje is arguably one of the biggest Nigerian actors to have emerged from a reality TV show. Other AMBO stars have gone on to achieve success from magazines covers to awards and starring in multimillion naira movies like Sitanda, Whitewaters, Cindy's Notes, The Child and Alero Symphony. some of the films that came from the now rested AMBO have won awards both locally and internationally.

In the same 2005, Next Movie Star, by Sola Fajobi, kicked off. This reality TV show has not done badly too. Some reputable actors and actresses, though not winners during their time in the competition, were able to make something out of what they experienced from the reality show. Some went to bigger reality shows and won.

The likes of Tonto Dike, Annie Idibia, Uti Nwachukwu, Karen Igho, Kevin Chuwampa are proud alumni of the show. So far, Kevin Chuwampa who was the first Nigerian that brought BBA money home is the only one missing in the entertainment arena now. Though, the first music related talent hunt television series, Star Quest, started in 2002 before the influx of many reality shows, Star Quest which claims to be the biggest band group talent hunt and the oldest reality show cannot boast of having a long list of big music stars either. Aside KC Presh, made up Kingsley Okonkwo and Precious John, that won the maiden edition, Star Quest, held in 2002, before they went their separate ways a couple of months ago, were the Only group that have remained in limelight. With their trendy lifestyle, KcPresh did everything possible to stay relevant in the game. Presently, KCee, as a solo artiste is the shining star. Other winners of the contest are visible during their one year contract after which, they disappear into the thin air. For other winners of Star Quest like Da'accord, D'jewell, Diamonds, The Pulse, Juke Box and B.E.A.T Band, it has been a rough ride to fame. The Pulse dazzled all when they had Buster Rhymes on the remix of so tey, their debut album and Diamonds shone like a a diamond star for a brief period with Bosokoto, after that, they went to sleep. A member of the Pulse Band, DJ Switch, even went solo in another reality show, Glo X-Factor, last year and won. More music related reality series joined the band wagon after MTN Project Fame West Africa came on board in 2008. And the project fame origin could be traced to the Project Fame Academy that took place in south Africa which gave talented singer/song writer, Darey Art Alade, his big break in 2004. Because of his project fame participation, he was the host for the first edition of the MTN Project Fame.

Project Fame can count some big stars like Iyanya, Chidinma and Praiz Mike, the second edition winner, is neither here nor there but he is doing his best to stay afloat. As MTN Project Fame sizzled, another telecommunication giant decided to launch into the reality music show arena with Glo Naija Sings in 2009. This reality TV show was the winner takes all and the prize was N7.5million. And after three editions of producing winners who never released a single let alone an album, they decided to let the Naija sings television show sleep and replaced it with the American X-Factor franchise. Speaking with Christian, the last Glo Naija Sings winner in 2011 on what has been happening to him and where he has been, he said "since my victory, God has been good. I got married to the most beautiful girl in the world who happens to be a beauty queen. She won Finest Girl in Abuja 2012 and we have a son now." On what he is doing at the moment as regards music, he said "I have recorded 32 songs so far. I am into so many things now like Comedy, acting and my music. Hopefully my first single Miracle Worker will drop soon and I have a movie coming out soon too titled Here we stand.

On whether there is anything Glo is doing to help push his single and album, he replied "Glo has done their part by giving me an opportunity to shine at the competition. We talk from time to time and they check on me." And we ask should the brand not be the main propeller of this first album before sending him off completely? Let's recall that In 2001, when P-Square won the Grab Da Mic competition Organised by Benson & Hedges. The company sponsored the group's debut album titled Last Nite, which was released under Timbuk2 Music label. P-Square was also nominated as "Most Promising African Group" in the Kora Awards three months after the release of the album. They eventually won the 2003 AMEN Award for Best R&B Group. When they won the competition back then, the cigarette manufacturing giant gave they a keyboard that was worth N80, 000. And then sponsored their debut album which to a great extent be likened to the proverb that says teach a man how to fish... Today PSquare's music is all over. A young woman who is a chorister in a church, Stella, agreed that in most cases, reality shows just fill the young winners' pockets with money when all they need is a little push to get where they want to be.

"To me it is like buying a car for a fisherman and we all know that he may sell it to buy a net at the end of the day," she Said.

Another ardent follower of reality TV shows who gave his name as Peter while speaking to Saturday Independent said many brands that organise reality TV shows are not ready to push these young talents beyond handing them the keys of a new car. "Though many of the winners of different talent hunts have done little or nothing, I believe in the hope that these brands are giving young boys and girls in the street through these platforms. Hope, that they can make it in the right way".

In 2011 came another music talent hunt, the Etisalat sponsored Nigerian Idol, borrowed from almighty American Idol franchise. The Idol started as West African Idol, sponsored by Evina Ibru and saw which saw Timi Dakolo as the first winner and J'odie as third runner up. Since the Idol became 'Nigerian' the winners are yet to be heard by the public musically. So far, Nigerian Idol has produced three winners and is warming up for its fourth edition this 2014 but fans are yet to listen to first single from any of the three winners. The first winner of the Nigerian Idol, Yeka Onka, who is also a model and sister to a rock gospel singer, Iyke Onka, since her win has been missing in the music scene. All that have been heard from the most entertaining talented singer on the Idol stage and winner of 2013 edition of Nigerian Idol, Mercy Chinwo, is her role As a maid in a movie, Family Runs that starred Majid Michel, Yvonne Nelson, Omawunmi and others. The question is 'did she win a music contest to get a movie role rather than release a single or a full album? Shouldn't they borrow a leaf from their mother hen American Idol? For example in May 23, 2007, Jordin Sparks was crowned the winner of the sixth season of American Idol and that same year, she released a single titled Tattoo. The big sell out single No Air* with Chris Brown followed in 2008, a song that has kept her fresh in the mind of her fans. Considering the circumstances in which some winners recoil back into their shells after winning, one is confused as to whether they have a certain type of music genre they are good at and which they feel the buying public in Nigeria is not ready for? Giving that majority of Nigerian audience prefer danceable secular music to other soft genre of music. These young budding talents get thrown off balance trying to convince the public to accept their music. An up and coming music producer asked this question when Saturday Independent approached him. "Is Nigerian market prepared for reality TV winners?" The young producer recalled that before Iyanya became a big star, it took him years after winning to climb up the music chart and he had to change his genre of music to what everybody wants to hear which is Your Waist. "He was an RnB guru but that didn't pay his bill," he said Airtel also didn't want to be left out of keeping its brand in the face of its customers at least once every year, and so came Nigeria Got Talent. In a way, one can commend their effort in pushing their first child-winner, Amarachi, within a short period of the reality show's debut. Now the nine-year-old fantastic dancer has a single and a video on air titled Amarachi Dance.

Dance related reality television shows will not be left out too. Aside Maltina family dance competition which has been bonding families through dance for the past seven years, Malta Guiness street dance Africa came; it produced two winners and went with the wind.

All we have seen of the first winners was their dance performance in MTN advert.

These reality television shows have done well in providing content for the television stations but in terms of fulfilling their promises of turning their young winners into big stars, most of them, especially the music related reality shows, have scored Zero.

It is said that money spent without investment is a waste that cannot be accounted for. A good number of these young winners become millionaires when they are crowned but after a few years of not investing in the talent that made them rich, they go back to square one.

To some extent, one may conclude that the job of the organisers of these shows in pushing the entertainment careers of these young talents comes to a stop after they win instead of being the starting point.

Many have asked if the shows are actually helping the youth or just an organised way to keep the brands in the face of their consumers for for the duration of the competition.

It should be on record that most big music and movie stars like Genevieve, 2face, TY Savage, D'Banj, Asa, Bez, Rita Domnic, Wizkid, Ice Prince, M.I., Waje, David O, Brymo, sheyi shey, Pete Edochie, Ramsey Noah, Jim Iyke and many others never went through any reality show and they are successful.

Their success is as a result of personal hard work. Same goes for other reality ex contestants like, Omawunmi, J'odie, Praiz who were runners up during their various competitions. They worked their way to the top on personal hard work.

Just as the winners of these various shows need the support of their brand sponsors to be on great music stages round the world, they on their own have to make an honest effort at getting to the top.

Copyright Daily Independent. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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