Ani Iyoho trended, but not for his talent as a stunt performer, talented actor or even for the movie "Behind the Wheels." He trended as the 'burnt actor.'
Does this apply to the business world in general, or is it simply a mantra for mostly upcoming entertainers eager for 10 minutes of fame?
The scenario: confronted with a probably great movie seemingly destined to not get the attention of a lot of Nigerians, the director and producers of "Behind the Wheels" concocted a plan. First came the Instagram posts and conversations prior to the dramatic video and stunt. The Instagram post featured Ani Iyoho going on and on about how he was about to become the first man in Nigeria to be set on fire. A hashtag was even created for it - #lightupAni. The update and conversations came off as a desperate build to a PR Stunt.
Then came the e-mails which were circulated on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, stating that the Nollywood actor was in the hospital after a fire stunt went wrong on set of the movie "Behind the Wheels."
Afterwards, a video of the actor 'burning,' with someone screaming 'bring the fire extinguisher' in the background, surfaced. The aforementioned video was shared by the director of the movie, Stanlee Ohikhuare, but was deleted hours later. At that point, they lost me as a worried Nigerian. After the post and delete, I realized they were only out to toy with emotions and pull a publicity stunt. If the fire stunt had actually gone wrong, the director wouldn't be in the right frame of mind to share such sensitive and vivid video - only an insensitive person would do that.
Pulse Nigeria reached out to an actress and friend of the 'burnt' actor, who gave us the response "I can't say yet." "Yet?" we thought. It's either he was burnt, or he wasn't, so what is the significance of 'yet?' Why would there be a 'yet' if there was something critical going on?
They had me impassive when they announced a press conference at Diplomat hotel, 18 Oduduwa way off Isaac John Opposite Rumour club G.R.A Ikeja. A press conference? To discuss what exactly? To discuss the 'alleged' fire incident that happened on the set,' they said.
My lack of enthusiasm turned into exasperation when they offered no cogent reason for their long silence. When the only announcement they had to make was “Those emails came from us. We wanted to test the waters."
Following the announcement, Iyoho released series of updates, tweets, and videos to assure his 'heartbroken' fans that he's doing fine, and explain how 'humbled' he is by their gestures. He contradicted his director by saying the drama of the past week wasn't a publicity stunt. According to Iyoho, " It was a huge misunderstanding, misrepresentation and misinterpretation of events." "It worried the production that anything he might say as an individual may be misinterpreted, further worsening the situation," he added.
In one of his videos, Iyoho said God simply used the viral video to make him shine. In his reply to one of his fans, the actor said the commenter wants to "ride on his new God given fame." At this point, I was once again disappointed - "God given fame?"
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As a 'talented and professional actor', I would think that Iyoho would rather have his fame stem from being the 'first Nigerian to be set on fire,' than being the actor who had his fans worried because he supposedly got burnt on set. The PR movement came from a wrong direction. It chose to appeal to emotions when it could have drawn attention to Iyoho's talent as a stunt man or talented actor, thus drawing attention to the movie too.
Few people currently remember the title of the movie which would have been a perfect medium for fans to watch an actor who pulled a fire stunt successfully. To discover his talent and have him recognized for who he truly is.
Is there no such thing as bad publicity? At the heart of the popular mantra is the thought that every publicity creates a chance to be in the spotlight, capitalize on the negativity/positivity, and probably come back stronger, weaker, or insignificant.
Ani Iyoho and his team set up a PR stunt I consider off-putting, and were doing a bad job at capitalizing on it for a comeback, success of the movie, or success of Iyoho's career as an actor.
Publicity stunts are made to get attention in a busy but social media inclined world, but be sure that any stunt and expected outcomes are appropriate for your audience and what you would like your image to be. The cast and crew of "Behind the Wheels" chose to present Iyoho as a 'man on fire,' a 'burnt actor,' rather than a professional who is good at what he does.
The viral video appealed to emotions, and not for one second portrayed Ani as a talented actor. Ani Iyoho trended, but not for his talent as a stunt performer, talented actor or even for the movie "Behind the Wheels." He trended as the 'burnt actor.'
In 2015, fans were hit with the news that upcoming act Skiibii had passed away. Prior to the 'heartbreaking' news, he wasn't known. The social media went into mourning for a 22-year-old upcoming act, who died before his career took off.
As the music industry and everyone with a heart started paying their last respects, the twist in the story came out- Skiibii was responding to treatment. He resurrected from the dead. It has been a year now, and most people still do not know Skiibi. We still do not know the single he pulled such expensive PR stunt for, we still don't know what he has released since his death and resurrection. He only enjoyed few hours of fame. Trended on Twitter, got more followers, but that was as far as he got.
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In the Art of the Deal, it is written that “Good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.” We can only hope that the burning man publicity stunt sells whatever it is out to sell.
Or we could just say that Nollywood has found its Skiibi.