The role of the media

WithKofi O. Aduonum

Mr. Magnus Rex Danquah

The Executive Chairman of RICS Consult Limited Mr. Magnus Rex Danquah delivered a paper at the SWAG/Stanbic bank/MTN forum held at the Media Centre of the Ohene Djan Stadium. Below are the excerpts.

It is with the greatest of humility that I stand before you this morning to contribute to the national discourse on the Rebranding of Ghana Sports through the National Sports Council vis-à-vis the role of the Media.

First permit me to admit that without the existence and activities of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National Sports Council and its numerous affiliated sports associations / disciplines and clubs, with the allied businesses, there would not be any local Sports Industry and most of the sports sections of the numerous media houses would be near extinct, unless of course then they would ONLY be reporting on foreign sports activities.

The reverse is also true that without a compelling, vibrant, cooperating, innovative and creative local media, the local Sports Industry would forever be in the state of still-birth. In short, there would not have been as many sports papers as we have now, nor the numerous radio and TV sports programmes as well as other papers will be devoid of sports pages, which are always read after the front and back pages headlines.

The two parties therefore are necessary bedfellows as politics is the natural bedfellow of sports for so many reasons; and therefore the Media have a compulsive role in the re-branding of Ghana Sports as it is its duty to ensure the success of this exercise.

My task this morning therefore is to outline for us all, as major stakeholders in the sports industry those areas that the media should see itself as a strategic partner towards the success of this national exercise of re-branding Ghana Sports.

Thus to do a very good job without any inhibitions, please first permit me to make the caveat that I am not privy to the processes that the National Sports Council, its Board, Management and all or any of its operatives might have gone through before the formal launch of the re-branding exercise; and therefore I am assuming a clean slate and speak rather as if we are just-about launching so that we could all appreciate the depth and extent of the role of the media in the re-branding exercise.

I will also base all my thoughts on the basic principle that re-branding = re-positioning = re-definition = re-focusing = re-thinking = re-birth, of everything to do with a product or service, in its entirety i.e. from conception to birth to naming / outdooring to growth and development and finally to destination.

All this process will require monitoring and evaluation so as to determine whether all deliverables and their timelines have been met and assess their impact on the public good or its overall contribution to the growth and development of the society or nation.
Brainstorming session with staff on re-branding core values, processes, objectives, added-values & deliverables

I would assume therefore that as part of the pre-launch process, the Board, Management and their Branding Consultants would have engaged the staff in a brainstorming session to deliberate on the state of the National Sports Council and the need for the re-brand or the anticipated changes and what they are as well as their own roles in the exercise.

It would then be necessary to define the new core values, the objectives, the new imageries or proposed trademarks to be registered for protection and the processes involved in the re-branding of the National Sports Council or Ghana Sports; the added-values to inure to the brand or product or services of the Council as well as the deliverables expected and their timelines.

When this is done and made available, the media would then now be better empowered to monitor, evaluate and report, from an informed position, on the exercise and educate the general public accordingly.

Brainstorming session with national sports associations & role in the re-branding process

As the supervising body over all the registered and affiliated sports associations and clubs in the country, it was critical that the views of a cross-section of all the national sports associations as well as the roles in the general re-branding exercise are clearly defined for their understanding and appreciation.

It will be important for their various national sports associations, their executive committees, individuals and clubs membership to participate in a brainstorming session, where their own core values, aspirations, objectives and overall strategic deliverables for the various sporting disciplines would be discussed within the context of the new re-brand core values, processes, objectives, added-values and deliverables.

This is to make for shared values and aspirations, and most importantly to understand and assimilate the underlying principles driving the re-brand processes. In short, each national sports association should be seen to be singing from the same hymn page as the national sports council but only in as far as it relates to their own peculiar sports disciplines.

Such shared synergies make for tighter synchronizations of all programmes, activities and events of each sporting discipline and their timelines into the greater national goals, vision, mission, targets and aspirations better defined by the national sports council, as mandated by current legislations.

For me this is one area that the strategic roles of the media is most crucial, especially in the drive to erase the misconceptions associated with what have been segmented as ‘Lesser-known Sports’.

This is a phenomenon that only a concerted effort by the media, driven extensively over time with infusion of greater sponsorship support by corporate Ghana for national events with incentives for participation and huge cash prizes for overall winners; and the activation of creative, innovative programmes and events by the various national sports associations, other than football, pro-boxing and athletics.

Thus, as part of the greater re-branding exercise it will be very critical for the media to be engaged towards a campaign to consolidate as well as grow the stature of all national sports associations against the erroneous labeling of ‘lesser-known sports’. This engagement could include representations at the Congresses of these national sports associations, travels of national teams and delegations to tournaments, regularly briefings on their activities and events, as well as the sponsorship of specialized courses to broaden the expertise of media in the rules / regulations and events of these ‘lesser-known sports’.

Sessions with other various stakeholders including Advertisers Association of Ghana (AAG), Chartered Institute of Marketing, Ghana (CIMG), GES School Sports, Institutional Sports, Security Services Sports, Universities & Polytechnics Sports, etc

To my mind, there are a number of other institutions and organizations, whose varied operations will definitely impact the whole re-branding exercise of Ghana Sports, especially for the stated objectives, new core values, processes and deliverables, which will also require another brainstorming session to inculcate their inputs into the whole re-branding exercise.

The institutions and organizations include the Advertisers Association of Ghana (AAG), the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Ghana (CIMG), the Sports Directorate of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Schools & Colleges Sports Associations, Universities & Polytechnic Sports, Security Services Sports, Keep-Fit Clubs Associations, Basic Schools Sports, and such other groupings as Charismatic & Orthodox Churches Sports Associations and individual Banks Sports.

These institutions and organizations have diverse expectations from a re-branded Ghana Sports and it will be critical that the National Sports Council listens to them so that they can factor some of the issues raised in the final strategy evolved to drive the new core values and objectives of the re-brand exercise.
One such issue is how national sportsmen and women from senior secondary schools could earn extra credits or their performances on the field be counted as credits and or for scholarships and bursaries at the tertiary level; whilst talented students from junior high schools could also earn bursaries / scholarships / credits for their sporting exploits at the senior high school levels.
For some of the institutions such as the AAG and the CIMG, their participation will be key in so far as they will assist the national sports re-branding exercise, especially in the areas of evolving industry-friendly practices and procedures necessary to enhance not only the marketability of the new products and services but also greater consumer-acceptability. Even as advertisers, representing a wide range of diverse clientele, the AAG in particular would assist the National Sports Council to re-define its operations into making the sports platform the best alternative for mainstream media advertising especially as it offers advertisers and sponsors unique avenues to getting closer to consumers and diverse experiences for numerous fan activations.
When all these are said and done, it behoves the media to articulate these new opportunities for the greater public and corporate Ghana to appreciate and take advantage of.
Sessions with existing and prospective sponsors & stadia advertisers
A study of the sports and events sponsorship landscape of the country over the last fifty years would reveal a list of major companies who have all had various relationships in the past including Mobil, International Tobacco Ghana (ITG), ABC Brewery (former Tata Brewery), Ghamot Company, Accra Brewery, Coca Cola Bottling Company Ghana, GIHOC Bottling (Pepsi), Akosombo Textiles (Akotex FC), Juapong Textiles (Juantex FC), Guinness Ghana, GIHOC Distilleries (GIHOC Stars FC), State Insurance Corporation, Workers Brigade, Ghana Commercial Bank, SSNIT, IRS, NDK Financial Services, MTN, Tigo, Onetouch (Ghana Telecom), Ghana Armed Forces (Defence Stars FC) and Ghana Textiles Printing (Dumas FC) amongst others.
It will be important that as we embark on this new journey of re-branding Ghana sports, we will need to take a sidestep and take a moment of reflection: meet with all these past sponsors of sports post-independence, particularly those whose businesses are still thriving so that we can learn from them. Indeed, their assessments of the past would help greatly in shaping the future re-positioning of Ghana sports.
With regards to the past, what better channel could be available than a partnership with the media to provide a chronicle of past sponsors and their contributions to the growth, development and consolidation of the then ‘brand’ of Ghana sports, which we wish to re-define or re-position? In such an exercise, we definitely cannot progress without going into the past: this is not about perceptions of people; it is much bigger than that.
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.
Conclusion
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.

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