It’s been six days since BBNaija 2020 commenced. Temi Gomez, who is the manager of Fierce Nation, to which BBNaija contestant, Laycon is signed has not slept for more than three hours every night since Sunday, July 19, 2020. On that day, Laycon trended for hours on Twitter as his appearance and personality split opinions.
“Bro, it’s been intense. Ah, I didn’t know it would be this intense. Make no mistake, it’s also been very interesting. We have a well-oiled, dedicated team that knows Laycon personally and tries to understand activities in the different WhatsApp groups that Laycon’s supporters have created. It’s a lot of hard work
“People throw the word around a lot, but I think we are a family because the core unit of the team has no outsiders and it’s saved me - I can trust people that we don’t pay. We all have a personal relationship with Laycon, we understand him, we know what he would say and what he wouldn’t say. That’s what you can see,” Gomez says.
When you are Temi Gomez, the man whom Laycon was introduced to about five years ago while trying to create a group of rappers called Gidi Mob, you feel proud, calm and collected. The boy has come a long way from amassing a decent following at the University of Lagos and he is still full of surprises.
But make no mistake, everything was planned - at least, most things were anticipated.
Laycon joins BBNaija
Most of the time, Laycon and his brother are in Gomez’s house. 14 days before BBNaija, Laycon rushed in and told Gomez that he would need some effects for a journey he's about to embark on. Together, they sat down and hatched a plan.
In the guise that Laycon was going to shoot a video, Gomez sourced for everything Laycon needed and he was set. Before he left, Gomez’s wife, an actor and media personality had a conversation with him. Then, he was off and that was the last time Laycon and Gomez spoke. The next time a shocked Gomez saw Laycon, his wife called him to come watch BBNaija. There Laycon was, in full flesh.
“There is this stereotype that people might feel Big Brother accommodates and Laycon is the textbook opposite [laughs]. But then, he saw an opportunity there and didn’t tell anybody. Maybe NDAs and NCNDs were involved, but I started suspecting something after someone called me to fact-check.
“My wife and I had to speak with him because we needed him to be ready because BBNaija is not a talent show. I was also careful not to gas him up...” he says.
Aided by family
Some members of that following which he amassed at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) are now part of the family that controls his affairs outside the BBNaija house. Three of them are Sulcata also known as Oraka, Dotun, Pexxie and about four others. Then, there is Temi Gomez and Laycon’s family members.
The UNILAG team does some of the social media work. They also try to stay in control of all the WhatsApp groups that have been created to support Laycon. Laycon’s social media pages are managed by close family members to reflect his voice and personality while Gomez coordinates everything else.
Truth is, this team or family didn’t even have to be specially convened, everybody just found themselves helping out in any way they can. Somehow, it became the support system for Laycon.
Laycon’s personality is the only strategy
In 2015, when Temi Gomez met Laycon upon the recommendation of Echo, a music producer, he was surprised by his confidence, personality, emotional intelligence and intellect.
He reiterates, “Within a few hours of meeting me, he asked me to do an intro for his album because he liked my voice or whatever [laughs]. As weird as it was, I thought I saw something. Maybe I was right, time will tell [smiles]...”
Gomez admits that at the time, most people wouldn’t have seen what he was lucky to see because, “Laycon was going through growth. I felt he could go somewhere, but would the industry allow?
“He wasn’t your textbook superstar with the great looks, body and all that. What he had was a personality and mind that could morph into a self-sustaining brand that random people can only understand when they know the person.”
When Fierce Nation got Runjozi and Laycon apartments in Lekki, Laycon returned to the mainland to be closer to his network and primary fan base. There, he scored a UNILAG tour. When his BBNaija run started, his team had no strategy because they knew really late.
These days, Laycon’s personality is what the entire strategy is built around. The aim is to sell everything that Laycon had created before he went into the house, amplify whatever Laycon does in the house and project his personality from his social media pages through the perspective of someone who knows him, his values and his ways.
The strategy isn’t just to release new music, it’s to follow Laycon’s lead. That’s why ‘Fierce’ and ‘Who Is Laycon?’ came into the conversation after Laycon performed them in the house. If Laycon talks about new music in the house, his team might just release.
The aim is also to propel Laycon onto the right path.
Marketing, social media and music
Gomez and other members of this team reiterates one thing; Laycon will be fine in the house. The worst that could happen is if people don’t like the way he looks and everybody is fine with it.
Social media is really where the action happens and that was why the negative reaction to the way he looks was anticipated and properly managed with counter-measures. Instead of seeing it as an impediment, Laycon’s team saw it as an opportunity to amplify the artist.
Gomez says, “If you are short and you’re in the NBA, you should be working on diversifying your game. We wanted to shock them into paying attention because we knew that the worst thing you could do in that house is to sail under the radar…”
The idea was to let that narrative about his looks run its own course because it would never be as relevant as the first time. When it started, Lekan’s team also made sure that his music was in the conversation. That was why his streams went up over 1000% on Audiomack and Boomplay respectively within hours.
“We all know what’s important to Laycon - his music, most importantly, then his image and people’s perception of him,” Gomez says.
While it was anticipated that some celebrities and popular figures would tweet Laycon’s favour due to pre-existing relationships, what Laycon’s team didn’t see coming was the amount of support from popular figures.
According to Gomez, “The good thing is that all those supportive tweets from public features were perfectly timed at crucial times in that campaign. What we wanted to do was simply use existing medium to support our person without going overboard.”
If Gomez and Fierce Nation wanted to release music, they could. Instead, they are using the avenue to sell Laycon’s persona to people in the most organic way. At the root of all this is trust in Laycon to simply remain himself in the house and allow his personality and his intellect shine brightly.
While all these things cost money, nothing major will require money unless Laycon has a severe case of bad PR in the house.
When Laycon opened his mouth, what Gomez described as, “A campaign to show who Laycon is” truly got underway.
“If Laycon says that ‘the sun and the moon should collaborate,’ we might decide to trend that conversation, depending on its value,” Gomez says.
How to manage bad PR
Make no mistake, Gomez and other members of Laycon’s team are certain that nothing negative will happen with Laycon in the house. However, some of those things that might make his team spring into action include;
- Jumping into unnecessary conversations
- Fighting a popularity contest
- Act pretentiously
If any of that happens, Gomez says, “There will be damage control like setting the record straight - not a spin, we don’t do spins. If you go to Laycon’s feed, you’ll see how certain tweets set the record straight. But in the end, I’m not worried about Laycon, I’m worried about the fan base when things get too emotional.
“Some of them might try to discredit other housemates and pro-Laycon strategies that are anti-Laycon’s brand, so we’ll try to stay above those too. It’s very simple; never talk bad about another housemate, except something happens in the house and they are using it against Laycon.
“We’re building a fan base that could last for years, it’s important to have values…”
How involved is Fierce Nation?
“As much as Fierce Nation has been going hard, Laycon’s team is made up of friends and family. Funding comes from a place of empathy and business benefits standpoint. We don’t demand because that might be insensitive,” Gomez says.
Fierce Nation is the label to which Laycon is signed and it is owned by Olugbenga Jackson also known as Jackson Fierce. Runjozi is also signed to that label, which Temi Gomez manages as A&R, Head of Affairs.
Over the past 18 months, Fierce Nation has gone from getting solely founded around Jackson’s belief in Laycon and Runjozi to a growing label.
Laycon and Fierce Nation has been a combination of hard work, strategy and big dreams. However, it shocked everybody when Lekan announced that he had been selected for an initial 10-day lockdown as a warm-up to BBNaija 2020.
Gomez says, “The label would never turn down anything that could be good for itself and its artists. That’s not even about contracts. These days, the label offers support - financial, advisory and technical.”
The attitude these days
These days, Laycon's fanbase and label propels the entire movement while everyone hopes for the best.
Of course, Jackson understands that winning the competition will give Laycon’s career and their collective big dreams a massive boost. They have stockpiled recordings of Laycon over the past two years, now they only hope that Laycon stays long enough in the house to have something to build on. However, they also know that he might not win.
“Winning the competition is a huge deal for anybody,” Gomez says, “The prizes are seriously attractive, but we have an opportunity here to create something for the coming generation where nerds and geeks and people with low self-esteem have the confidence to win.”
“All we have to do is be ourselves. But if Laycon knocks on my door tomorrow morning and says he tried his best, I’d accept it. As he is, Laycon has already achieved the impossible with whatever time he manages to pull off on that platform,” Gomez continues
When Laycon comes out, the strategy is his music - he will have 13 producers waiting for him in a studio somewhere and Gomez is certain that he will be hungry. One thing also Gomez knows is that life will never be the same again for Laycon.