The trajectories of Katung Aduwak, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, Mercy Eke, Lekan ‘Laycon’ Agbelesebioba, over the last 10 years, clearly illustrate how Big Brother Nigeria (BBNaija) reality TV show can have an incredible impact and shoot ordinary people to stardom. But it is more than that.
Aduwak, a filmmaker, won the first season of the BBNaija show in 2006, while Ebuka, a media personality, was a finalist. Since 2006, the two men have used the BBNaija platform to attain enviable heights in their respective careers. When the show returned in 2017 after an 11-year hiatus, it became the centrepiece of primetime television viewing in Nigeria and more than 40 African countries.
It is constantly being reinvented to meet the needs of young people on the continent as a source of entertainment, a guaranteed route to fame and wealth and a source of livelihood to others who never auditioned for the show. Even though it is a ‘winner takes all’ show, there are more winners than the season’s winner declared at the finale.
The story of former housemates – Tobi Bakre, Natacha ‘Tacha’ Akide, Mike Edwards, Nengi Hampson, Ozoemena ‘Ozo’ Chukwu, Dorathy Bachor, Bisola Aiyeola, Bamike ‘Bam Bam’ Olawunmi and Erica Nweledim, among many others, bagging various brand endorsements and inking deals as influencers, bears testament to the absolute power of BBNaija to make stars and influencers out of housemates, even when they didn’t emerge winners.
The increasing popularity of social media is also helping their star power skyrocket. But the beneficiaries of the BBNaija power to transform ordinary people into influencers are not just the housemates who stay in the house for about three months, and their lives become a show to the world. The show has also made big influencers out of an army of social media users and restless fans constantly driving conversations about their fave housemates and uploading updates and snippets of the show highlights on social media.
“Running a BBNaija blog on Instagram has been very rewarding for me through advert placements from different brands and business owners,” Peter Tope, a blogger who manages one of the biggest BBNaija blogs on Instagram, told Netng. Peter noted that he started talking about BBNaija a few months before season 6 premiered in July 2021. A week after the show, his page had garnered over 130,000 followers on Instagram, more than the IG followers of some of the biggest media organisations in Nigeria – The Nation with 14,000 followers, Thisday 12,000 followers and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) with 83,000 followers.
The show’s popularity is drastically shifting the focus of Nigerian brands (small, medium and big) from engaging only actors, music artistes, and athletes as influencers to drive traffic and sales to their brands. They now consider working with influencers who rose on the platform of the BBNaija show. With social media, BBNaija is giving ordinary people the chance to become visible, attract, and influence followers, which has been financially rewarding, according to Peter Tope.
Aside from bloggers who have become big by running a dedicated BBNaija blog, many young Nigerians are also building influencers careers by talking about BBNaija and managing the pages of housemates even though they never went into the house. Blessing Obehi and Motunrayo Balogun bear testament to this.
Obehi, an Accountant and Balogun, an Admin executive with a non-governmental organisation in Lagos, managed the Twitter, WhatsApp and Telegram pages of Whitemoney, the BBNaija season 6 winner. They told Netng in an interview on Friday, October 8, 2021, that managing Whitemoney’s handle shot them into the limelight when they were revealed as the handlers a day after the show’s finale.
“We’ve been on Twitter for like five years, but the number of people who have followed us since Monday (October 4) when we eventually revealed our identity has been overwhelming,” Obehi said.
Balogun added that “Since the show ended, we’ve been getting offers from business owners to come manage their social media pages. And we see more coming.” Peter, Obehi, Balogun, and many former BBNaija housemates who have gone to build a career from the show are just a few reasons many Nigerians believe BBNaija is presently the highest producer of social media influencers in Nigeria. So do they have a point?
Obehi, Balogun and Peter told Netng they strongly believe so, and their personal experience is also a confirmation. “During the show, people from different parts of the world were reaching out to us asking how they could support the housemate. There were so many offers even while the show was still on,” Balogun said. Obehi added that “even if you don’t win BBNaija, you are going to shine, except if your village people are following you.”
One famous Twitter influencer who does not want to be mentioned told Netng that “there are no other reality shows in Africa that have half the reach and influence of BBNaija.” Many young people have now taken the BBNaija show as a full-time job. “We know people who started managing the pages of housemates from season 2, and they are now doing it as a full-time job. They have become the go-to influencers whenever there is a new season,” Balogun said.
Obehi told Netng that the show has now opened her eyes to consider a career as a social media influencer, and “I may just go into it full time.” But Motunrayo is sticking to her NGO job while exploring the opportunities BBNaija brings to her as a social media influencer.
It’s not just the housemates and influencers who build a rewarding career off the back of the BBNaija platform.
“The photographers, videographers and stylists, are also benefiting greatly from the show. Because the winner and other former housemates engage their services whenever they have events,” Obehi said. Adebisi Davies of SBA Studios, the official photographer of BBNaija season 5 winner Lekan ‘Laycon’ Agbelesebioba, told Netng that working with Laycon has given his work and brand unimaginable exposure and has opened doors for him.
“Since my watermark started appearing on Laycon’s photos, it has given my work a lot of exposure; other celebrities now call me to work for them. I’ve worked with more celebrities, and it has taken me to places,” Adebisi said. “Working with the former BBNaija winner has been rewarding and has taken my brand – SBA Studios to another level.”
The story of Obehi, Balogun, Peter and Adebisi, as well as former BBNaija housemates, is incontrovertible evidence that BBNaija is capable of making a career path for many young Nigerians in a country where at least 23.2 million in a total population of 200 million people are either unemployed or underemployed.
This post first appeared on www.234star.com