By: Kofi Owusu Aduonum
What is it that people say about the past: that the people who forget the past, live to repeat it and is that what we want to see the re-branding exercise end up like that in say, another twenty or fifty years down the line? I hope not.
It will be worth it therefore to review the post-independence sports and the kind of brand we have built for ourselves so that we will be better placed to avoid the pitfalls of the past in embarking on this re-branding journey.
I want to believe that once we deal with the past, we can then invite prospective sponsors and advertisers interested in doing business with the new Ghana Sports BRAND and engage them as to their expectations, what would attract them to consider the new brand as an alternative to their current marketing, sponsorship, and corporate social responsibility partners to make them decide to allocate their spends rather on sports now?
To this end also, we would expect the media to play a critical role in sensitization of corporate Ghana on the new core values, objectives and added-value to new re-packaged / re-designed / re-positioned services and products of re-branded Ghana Sports, especially in its attractiveness and also to the extent that the public would accept any linkages for what they would be worth.
Sessions with the media & SWAG (note not restricted to SWAG) as re-brand goes beyond sports especially on Media Rights, etc
It is important to recognize and appreciate that the issue of re-branding Ghana Sports, goes beyond strict dealings with only the membership of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) or sports presenters and commentators on various radio and TV programmes.
For me the sessions with the media should include but not limited to the following:-
· All TV & Radio Networks;
· All Print Media Houses;
· New Media Operators;
· All licensed Mobile Phone Operators and mobile content management firms;
· All ICT, including software & website designers, and mobile application designers; Data & Information Suppliers;
· TV Live Telecast / OB Van & Production Companies;
· Distribution Companies and Syndicators; Media Owners; Sponsorship Management;
· Sports Experiences; Translation & Localizations; Equipment & Service Providers; Photo & Video; Research & Evaluation;
· Ticketing, CRM & Smart Cards; and
· Multi-media design agencies
The inclusion of this group as major stakeholders of the re-brand exercise will also be necessary if we are to situate the whole project in the emerging sports industry in Ghana; and their inputs will go a long way to reconfigure the current fees for the purchase media and events ownership rights in the country.
It is important the framers of the re-brand project engage this group in order to fine-tune the process so far to make the emerging sports industry very competitive in terms of recruitment of top-notch expertise who would work to achieve set targets and objectives.
Sessions with District, Metropolitan & Municipal Assemblies, Bidding and Hosting of National Sports Festivals should be encouraged so districts will grow sporting infrastructure for events
Please let it be said that the greatest, most efficient and effective platform to promote and actualize decentralization in the country as well promote gender equity and equal opportunities for all irrespective of tribe and sex is SPORTS; and that is why Sports occupy a centre stage in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 timeline.
However, there is a much bigger picture to look at within this context.
It will be important for the National Sports Council to begin to engage all districts, municipal and metropolitan assemblies and explore possibilities for involving them in the provision of sports infrastructure for their people.
Unfortunately, I hold the opinion that the districts, municipal and metropolitan assemblies could do better in the provision of facilities to engage their youth in one sporting discipline or the other, especially as most of the assemblies are not applying the 5% share of their allocation for sports development judiciously.
My thinking is that it is about time that districts, municipal and metropolitan assemblies are offered the opportunity to bid for the rights to host and organise such national sporting events as the National Sports Festivals, National Football Teams’ Home Matches, and National Open Championships / Tournaments for all sports.
This will enable them to provide the requisite facilities for satisfying basic requirements for the hosting as provision of infrastructure, accommodation, transportation and communications within agreed timelines preceding the dates for the events.
Again, it will be prudent for them to engage experts to work on the provision of TV live telecast of the events in order to open up the district for all possibilities, including sports tourism, investments, trade and re-positioning as preferred destinations; this will be in addition to marketing and sponsorship outsourcing to mobilize additional funding for organizational expenses as well as some governmental support towards the provision of infrastructure.
I am more than optimistic that once this understanding is acceptable to the national sports council, we could all join the media in the crusade for an increase in the allocation of the national revenue set aside for the District Assemblies Common Fund – from the current 7.5% to 15%, with the understanding that the share for sports development and promotion will thus increase from 5% to 12%.
When the idea of the districts, municipal and metropolitan assemblies bidding for the rights to host and organize national sports events are adopted, the idea of the National Sports Council providing infrastructure nationwide with all its limitations will be a thing of the past, whilst now the cost of the hosting and organization becomes part of the host requirements and not for the National Sports Council. This way also we will on regular basis have these events without having to postpone them sometimes for the lack of budgetary allocations to the National Sports Council in some years and for us having to postpone them sometimes, indefinitely.
Marketing & Advertising Support for Re-branding Process, including Radio and TV interviews, Advertising New Logos and Messages for Re-positioning and Values
If we accept that the whole re-branding philosophy is a process then there would be the constant / regular / short-medium-long-term engagement of the media by its promoters i.e. the National Sports Council and the Ministry of Youth and Sports in order to educate the public, and mobilize corporate support through their officials’ participation in various dedicated media programmes – radio, TV, print and new media.
There will also be the need for sustained marketing and advertising support for the process, meaning there has to be a budget set aside for this aspect of the exercise or better still, the National Sports Council should enter into some sort of partnership with various media houses for such services at discounted costs or that they underwrite the cost of support entirely.
Re-branding & International Relations and sessions with Ministries & Brand Ghana Office
If one considers the mileage that the nation, Ghana has gained between Germany 2006 FIFA World Cup, through Ghana 2008 Africa Cup of Nations Football tournament hosted in Accra, Tamale, Kumasi and Sekondi-Takoradi, Egypt 2009 FIFA World Youth Championship to the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup, there is no gainsaying the fact that the Black Stars and Satellites Teams’ exploits have enhanced the nation’s global image tremendously.
Even in terms of sports tourism, these achievements have helped in no mean way to consolidate Ghana’s position as a preferred destination for all kinds of activities, be it business, trade, investment, tourism and events.
It is for this reason that I see a compulsive need for a brainstorming session with various stake-holding MDAs such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Health and the Brand Ghana Office at the Office of the President to define the parameters or the rules of engagement for necessary collaborations.
For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration, it should begin to re-think the usual services offered national teams and delegations that visit the countries of their missions and raised the bar to how to use the national teams and their exploits for diplomacy, call it SPORTS DIPLOMACY for whatever it might mean or worth.
For the Brand Ghana Office, it should also begin to explore the possibilities for engaging the National Sports Council in tightening its re-branding exercise even as it is trying for itself to define its own scope of work as mandated by its terms of reference (TOR).
In all these cases, the media as a strategic partner as already defined in both my opening remarks and body content, has a role to play in promoting the actualization of these goals and targets set by the rules of engagement so defined at the brainstorming session.
Registration of Trademarks and imageries to protect new brand
Having shared all these thoughts, I cannot conclude without commenting on the need to register all trademarks or the new imageries adopted and produced to manifest the re-brand in order to protect all inherent rights, socio-economic values and privileges.
Most of the times in the products and services offered by the National Sports Council, corporate Ghana and other event managers would be interested in knowing that whatever rights they pay for to do business in such areas as licensing, merchandising, franchising, sponsorship activations, marketing and hospitality, they will always be protected against AMBUSH MARKETING from competitors.
Thus, going forward this is the key to the overall success of the re-branding of Ghana Sports.
Please let me admit that it is always an honour and privilege for me to be invited by the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) to participate in its programmes, especially if it affords me the opportunity to share some thoughts on any topical issues.
Definitely, RE-BRANDING OF GHANA SPORTS is a major national issue as it transcends mainstream sports: for me it is about national development and the role of sports in setting the agenda for policy-makers, our people, government and the teeming unemployed youth of our great nation – Ghana.
It is also about the role of sports in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 timeline; it is again about fighting streetism to take our youth off the streets across Ghana and giving hope to the youth of this nation; it is further about making our youth realize that sports isn’t only about keeping fit but that others have lived their dreams through performance sports as it is the sure route of becoming famous and sitting at the same table with kings, princes, prime ministers and presidents of nations even as they developed their God-given sporting talents and skills; and finally it is also about opening up the economy to offer employment opportunities to various people through the promotion of sports as an emerging industry.
And then, it is also about PATRIOTISM, NATIONALISM, Fair-play, Teamwork, Unity, Discipline, Dedication, Self-Discipline, Goal-setting and achievement, and most important, about the FLAG of Ghana, around which we all become ONE PEOPLE with a common destiny, devoid of partisan politics, tribalism and all forms of divisions.
I want to recognize, appreciate and thank the sponsors of sports in this country for they have always assisted to make it possible for sports to become what it is now globally; and making it also possible for me to be here and share these thoughts with you, my patient audience. Thank you all, God bless us and make our nation, Ghana great and strong.