Social and Economic Effects of Big Brother Naija

Big Brother Naija, formerly called Big Brother Nigeria, is a Nigerian reality competition television series, founded on the Big Brother television franchise. 

Big Brother is a reality show where a group of people called housemates are brought together in a large house isolated from the society while being watched constantly by cameras, a social experiment borrowed from George Orwell’s fictional dystopia of Oceania.

The chosen to compete for a large cash prize worth and gifts by avoiding eviction by the viewers. It’s a show where the winner takes all. For Nigerians, this show is popular because of the escape channel it presents.

Nigerians, although a resilient bunch, are confronted with challenges, like most countries in the world. These challenges are sometimes monetary, insecurity, Governmental Actions, and inactions, which puts a strain on the mind.

As society has long discovered, Humans tend to ignore their problems when engrossed in other people’s problems. Reality TV shows like BBNaija offer this escape by commodifying and unfolding the dramatic lives of others.

Seeing these people win or lose under the public eyes provides entertainment, intrigue, and drama, making us connect with them because some of their everyday choices and struggles mirror ours.

Much has been said of the total 240 million votes record-breaking number of votes garnered by the “Pepper Dem Gang” fourth season of the Big Brother Naija reality show in 2019.

Amidst all these conversations, most people have failed to realize how the show created a platform for businesses brands to companies to make money and provide employment for thousands of Nigerians.

There have been conversations about the social impact of the franchise on Youths and Children. Although Nigeria might be a secular, some religious and moral biases still exist.

People raised many points about the morality of the show; there were panics among parents, teachers, and guardians, especially on issues about sex, nudity, violence, cheating, and voting unfairness.

Yet, many African audiences, especially the youth, have continued. There have been several calls demanding its ban and censorship. 

In 2007, the Nigeria House of Representatives issued a directive to the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission to discontinue the airing of any clip or debate on the Big Brother reality show, and recently there were rumors about The Minister of Information and culture asking the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission to ban the season 5, Lockdown reality show.

Although the minister has debunked these rumors, this didn’t stop BBNaija from sponsoring ads teaching DSTV and GOtv users how to block channels to pacify those who think the show is too vulgar and to also remind them that they have a choice not to watch.

Despite these outcries and the moral panics, the reality show has neither improved in moral tone nor viewership level reduced.

The reality show has contributed immensely to Nigeria’s economic growth. To fully understand these economic benefits, here is a breakdown of how BBNaija impacted the country’s economic and social landscape.

1. Provision of Clout for associated brands

Just like Mark Twain said, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

This is the case of the brands and companies who by taking turns to sponsor rewards for the weekly tasks organized for housemates, brands like Heritage bank, Oppo, Darling hair, Betway, Pepsi, Bet9ja, Innoson, Zaron, Legend, Gulder, Lumapil Forte, Indomie, among others, have enjoyed increased visibility, clout and maximum exposure as millions of viewers in Africa tuned in to watch the show daily.

The non-stop social media engagement has guaranteed that the show has been highly beneficial to all brands connected with the Big Brother Naija reality show.

According to a report in 2019 by The Future of Work, a data analytics, training, and consulting firm, seven brands had 206,905 Twitter mentions in conversations about the show.

These brands include Bet9ja MunchIt, Oppo, Heritage Bank, Pepsi, and Dano. Of the seven, Bet9ja was recorded to be the most-talked-about, largely because it was a title sponsor, and it supplied the hotly contested game coins to the Season four housemates.

2. Economic Opportunities

A few days to the end of the Big Brother Naija season four in 2019 “Pepper Dem Gang” show, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, the host, shared a picture on Twitter of not less than 100 crew members who worked day and night behind the scenes to bring the show to live viewers. “Just a few of the crew members who made the #PepperDem season work. It really does take a village,” he captioned.

That Twitter post is a clear indication that Big Brother Naija has grown to become employers of labour, engaging youths, and media/production personnel every season.

The show has also unlocked the gateway for future economic opportunities by employing several ancillary and freelance staff. The crew members can now leverage on the BBNaija experience gained from the show to get more lucrative gigs.

In another instance of a ripple effect, the employers will now find themselves in a better place to negotiate better when engaged for future projects because they helped produce a largely hitch-free show of such size and importance.

The show also employs several indirect employees, such as security guards called Ninjas, janitors, carpenters, interior designers, and accountants.

3. Provision of Visibility do Vendors and Service Providers

Every week while the show is on, vendors and businesses are hired to supply necessities such as food, toiletries, and clothes to the contestants. The BBNaija platform provides a ready market and advertisement for many such entrepreneurs, particularly those in the fashion industry.

In many cases, the clothes, shoes, jewellery, etc. supplied to the housemates for their parties and special events became very popular on social media which with the vendors often running out of stock due to the surging demand from viewers, which was severally recorded with Season four, “Pepper Dem Gang” contestant Natacha Akide popularly known as Tacha.

These small and medium scale businesses, usually Instagram businesses, saw their products receive a higher degree of patronage, interest from Nigerians, and other African countries’ citizens.

4. Revenue and Publicity for Entertainers

What better way to get complimentary publicity than to take your show or product to the BBNaija platform? Several popular celebs gained from the show in this regard.

Innocent ‘2baba’ Idibia visited the house during his ’20 Years A King’ anniversary celebration, where he used the platform to launch his first product, the Oraimo Neckband In-Ear Bluetooth Headphones.

Recently an upcoming artist called Laycon, a Season Five lockdown contestant, experienced a surge in Streams and Brand visibility by talking about his music In the BBN house.

Asides from publicity, different artists and disc jockeys are hired to perform every week during the Saturday night parties and live eviction shows. Over 30 DJs and entertainers are engaged during the 99 days of the show.

5. The Long-Term Effect

The show’s essence had always been to give upcoming creatives and entrepreneurs a platform to sell their products and skills to the world. With that achieved, a number of the contestants are expected to go on to set up businesses and scale up already-established brands.

And as the businesses of the ex-housemates grow, they are expected to become employers labour, generate revenue, and ultimately contribute to improving the country’s economic landscape.

Ex Housemates like Mike, Gedoni, and Tacha in the previous seasons never missed an opportunity to promote their businesses and brands. At the same time, Jackie and Seyi’s likes made sure to always inform the world of their respective plans. This is currently emulated by some current housemates who are artists like Laycon and Vee.

So apart from contributing to the reduction of the unemployment rate by employing Nigerians, the BBNaija platform also serves as a foundation for many businesses and brands to spring up and thrive.

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