An Igbo ‘red cap’ chief is a walking insignia of authority, tradition, and culture, same as a group of ‘red cap’ chiefs symbolise an entire institution of leadership, achievement, authority, and power in Igbo tradition.
With the recent knighting of Hero lager by the Obi of Onitsha as “Mmanya ejiri mara Igbo,” the premium beer brand will now be seen in the same light as a red cap chief though out the entire South Eastern region in Nigeria. The knighting is a proof of how much Hero lager has repositioned its front and heightened its authority within the region it has been most successful.
Budweiser has come into the Nigerian market claiming to be the ‘King of Beers’, what Hero has done is to say; “Hey Bud! You might be a King, but in there is another King in the South East.” Interestingly, both beer brands are managed by International Breweries Plc., a proud member of AB InBev, so the temptation for a brand war among these two is negligent.
Launched into the market in August 2012 without much fanfare, Hero immediately resonated with the culture of the Igbos, and backed by the brand’s strategic positioning in terms of value and price, it skyrocketed to the summit of the beer market in the region.
From the retail shops in Onitsha to hotels in Owerri and down to the manufacturing workshops in Aba, Hero beer became a favourite broth among many beer lovers. That acceptance into the nucleus of the region’s neo-culture led to the christening of the beer as ‘Oh Mpa.’ Mpa means father in the Igbo language, a sign that the brand was held in high regards for what it now signified.
It became a regular feature on the menu during festivals and traditional ceremonies, while also inspiring the mentality of being a ‘hero’ among its teeming consumers; it has become a symbol of identity for the Igbo beer lover.
At the peak of its achievement, societal status and recognition, the next move for the brand, like every Igbo individual who has ridden his way to the top, was to seek the knighthood of a red cap chief. As Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Ugochukwu Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Highness, gave the blessing for the red cap ceremony to commence, the reality of Hero’s achievement as the market leader in that region became flesh.
A relatively unknown brand, first released during the burial of civil war hero late Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, Hero was finally celebrated with dance, music and fanfare. For the brand, the knighthood is an integrated marketing scheme that hopes to reward its customers as well extend the brand’s reach.
“Since we introduced this beer to the Nigerian market, it has clearly found its way into the taste buds of beer drinkers first in South East Nigeria and beyond,” says Obumneke Okoli, Marketing Manager Hero Lager, during the ceremony.
“The people are happy, excited with a burning flare in them all because of this beer.”
More so, the red cap ceremony represents the fruition of the brand’s essence which thrives on the sentiments of the Igbos and the regional marketing of the brand’s handlers.
Arne Rust, Marketing Director, International Breweries Plc., said during the ceremony:
“Through this ceremony, we hope to inspire consumers to be heroes every day and in every way. We have great plans for our consumers in Nigeria, part of which includes strategically launching several beer brands to suit specific geography and cultures. Hero is a well-established brand in the eastern part of the country. International Breweries Plc., genuinely cares about the culture and tradition of the people, and we will consistently seek ways to showcase our culture and positively impact the society.”
That grand red cap title-giving ceremony will be followed by a “Go! Be the Hero” campaign which looks to reward Nigerian men in recognition of their efforts and mission to be heroes. Also, as sponsors of the FIFA World Cup 2018, Hero will send the Super Eagles off to Russia with an unveiling of the world’s biggest football message written with people – “Eagles Be Fearless, Go Be The Hero.”
The campaign shows that Hero lager is truly being ‘heroic’ in its strides and new experiences for consumers. After all, when a man has been made a red cap chief, he has to embark on a new project to prove to his kinsmen that he is truly worthy of his new title. The World Cup campaign will serve Hero lager’s popularity in Nigeria positively and maybe one day, the beer will stake a claim for an Ozo title.