Thursday, January 17, 2008
The World of the Nigerian Soft Sell
The motivation for this post came from a personal experience which I once had with a Nigerian softsell. A story that I unknowingly contributed to was run as a Front page edition for 2 weeks . This resulted in increased sales for the Magazine. Ofcourse, I wasn’t mentioned as the source of the story.
The Nigerian Softsell world has seen the presence of so many magazines such as Hints, Global Excellence,Ovation, Fame , Encomium, City People, Classique , Treasure, Alaroye e.t.c
Hints had a pioneering crew of Toni Kan and Helon Habila. The strong point of Hints magazine was its unbridled love stories which appealed to the wild fantasies of teenagers and other young people. Ovation magazine was started by the quintessential Dele Momodu during the heady days of the military. It started of as a News magazine and later morphed into a photomagazine of the standard of Hello/ Ok magazines. Encomium is largely owned by Kunle Bakare. He is regarded as one of the Doyens of SoftSell journalism in Nigeria. He has managed to survive many years in a business that is associated with a high mortality rate. Classique was the brain child of Late Mee Mofe Damijo. She was able to run it till the time of her departure from this world. Fame and Treasure have a common denominator – Femi Akintunde Johnson (popularly called FAJ). FAJ is regarded as one of the Grandmasters of Soft Sell Journalism. He was the dread of many society women/ men. In one fell swoop, FAJ had the ability to make /mar the public career of any individual. FAJ started at Fame magazine before it went under.
The appellation RMD which Richard Mofe Damijo is known by was coined by Femi Akintunde Johnson of the Fame Era. After a while, things went rough for him, he became born-again and decided to put out Treasure magazine.
Fame Magazine rested on the 3 proverbial stones that did not allow the pot of stew to be overturned (Aro meta ti kin dobenu) – Mayor Akinpelu, FAJ and Kunle Bakare
Global Excellence is owned by Mayor Akinpelu.
City People is published by Seye Kehinde. Seye Kehinde is an amazing journalist who transformed from a Pro-democracy journalist during the Abacha era to a Celebrity News journalist when the Democrats came to town. The stories that surround Seye Kehinde’s exploits in the military era are numerous- Publishing in hideouts, running from SSS officials, jumping over fences and moving around in disguise.
Only a few of the aforementioned magazines are still in circulation. Some of the publishers are still around. Toni Kan is now born again and has given up his favorite past time of helping in the sexual development of youngsters. Helon Habila has won the Caine Prize. Dele Momodu is now a Baba-Isale in Journalism/ Business/Politics.
City People and Encomium remain the front-runners in Soft-sell journalism in Nigeria. City people is said to have the highest circulation figures. In second position is Encomium Magazine. Breasting the tape in 3rd position is Global Excellence.
If there is any thing that can be established from the preceding paragraph, it is the fact that the Nigerian Softsell industry is actually a small world. Most of the major players have worked with each other at some point in time. They mostly operate by the same rules.
The Nigerian Media is plagued by variety of problems. Some of these problems include the high cost of Newsprint, Epileptic Power supply, Ineffective distribution Network, Low circulation figures and Lack of a Freedom of Information act.e is How do they manage to survive in the midst of all these hindrances? What are their business practices? How do they generate the funds that keep them going? The answers are numerous.
Imagine a young, beautiful and sociable woman who has just started out on the party circuit. She manages to get herself invited to the parties that matter. She is seen at various award shows. The softsell photographers have started seeing a reoccurrence of her pictures in their cameras. The Softsell publishers then start to do a background check on her. This is not usually a hard job to do. She has friends that she comes to the parties with. Information about the new girl on the block could be coerced out of her well known friends. Now comes the Baptism of fire. A front page edition is run about the New Party Lady. This front page edition could often contain disparaging stories about her personal life. In order to show the lady that the softsell means business, another story is run about her the following week. The lady sees the story, she is sad at how her image is being tainted. Funny enough, she realizes that everyone now knows who she is. She gets in touch with the Publishers of the Softsell. She pays her dues (financially), and is officially initiated into the circle of Society ladies. The Publisher smiles to the bank.. If after a while, the publisher sees that business is not doing so good, he looks up his long list of society women, he bugs them for a week or so, they come and settle and life moves on.
Then there is the category of Society big girls who have beef with those with whom the soft sells have a cosy relationship. Woe betides such a society lady. Her life secrets are sent to the publishers who them embellish the stories in a readable fashion and print them. As long as the fight lasts, her stories would be run. These are the scenarios which the publishers love. Running such stories would cost money. Stopping them would cost a greater amount of money. They are able to eat their cake and have it.
An aspiring politician whose career needs a boost needs to befriend a Soft-Sell publisher. Such a politician needs to forget all the high-brow marketability of True Love and Genevieve. City People and Encomium run the streets. Only these 2 magazines can provide such an aspiring politician with enough street credibility to win any election.
The Nigerian Softsell is not all about blackmail and extortion. The burgeoning Fashion industry in Nigeria owes it success largely to the spadework done by Softsell magazines.
An aspiring fashion designer who cannot compete in the same class with the Tiffany Ambers, Deola Sagoes, Zizi Cardows could hook up with a softsell magazine and hold his/her show under the auspices of the softsell.
Nigerian softsells also help budding artistes organize musical concerts. The attendance in such a concert guarantees a free appearance in the subsequent edition of the soft-sell magazine. This serves as a motivation for the members of the public to attend such a musical concert.
In conclusion, Nigerian softsells have been here for a long while. They are going no where.