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Owen Shedrack: How Bole Festival is setting the Pace for Pre-event Marketing in Port Harcourt



Owen Shedrack: How Bole Festival is setting the Pace for Pre-event Marketing in Port Harcourt

How Bole Festival is setting the Pace for Pre-event Marketing in Port Harcourt -PR, Co-marketing and Everything done right to Level Up

For a city like Port Harcourt that has seen aggregated number of events annually growing from a few 50 in the past five years to crushing more than 200 across ecosystems; tech, entertainment, corporate, socials, etc, you’ll expect the buzz, and event conversations to be a thing of attraction beyond a few select events.

I wonder that there is yet no trace or even surrounding conversations whether for bad or good for over 95% of these events. Although I’ll like it for good. It’s better to be silent if it’s bad. There’s a lot of negatives to go around already.

While seasons come and go, there is an absence of culture built around a story, community and content amplified by experience. Most times, we get only a few right, but we can get all right!

What’s stopping us from going above and beyond?

My engagement in development work across ecosystems promoting creativity, art and entertainment has taught me that the potential in the little things we do has the capacity to transform a community, a state, a region, and even a continent like Africa.

Take Coachella for instance, the Boston Marathon and even the annual ‘Experience’ event in Lagos. These events bring the attention of the world down to the very city and community, and with all the economic impact it has, we cannot forget to tell the story. Especially the part where we bold the successes.

To give you an insight. The participating brands were visible to over two thousand eye-balls in real time and with an opportunity to interact with customers in an Experiential way. That’s technically like up to 5% return on marketing, meeting your target market where they hangout.

Again, with the volume of footfalls and business activities surrounding the event program across two days, if I take you through the maths, we may have up to N50,000,000 in cash flow aggregating all stakeholder earnings and indirect flows. That’s bread on people’s table. That’s new talents being identified. That’s a platform for many. That’s somebody’s biggest sales for the whole year.


Was a few Challenges Expected? Yes! I did and it was not event the rain. I think we should learn to see the rain as a part of the event. Progressive events projects planned for outdoor are recently ideating creative ways to accommodate poor weather conditions. So let it rain! Thunder and smoke can do their thing.

I’ll start by pointing out that the challenges experienced at the Bole Festival this year regarding event management; from ticketing, venue management protocols to the experience were expected. Expected because, it’s a new venue, and you need an expert Location Designer, technology and top of art Project Manager to give a 90% mark and that’s why I’ll say that they may be a fair rating for the event-days.

While I’m also looking forward to the post event marketing activities, I’ll like to point out some of the amazing marketing and promotional activities that stood out, worthy of copying and emulation for the ecosystem.

We have to continually push the conversation around learning, pushing for the standard and recognizing that there’s the world that’s the goal. There’s no other competition.

The choice for the theme

It’s a great practice to not do things because you just want to do them. Finding meaning to seasons and attaching attributes people can connect to gives you a standpoint communicate whatever value you have for them.

What will continue to make the Bole Festival project interesting and progressive is not that it brings people annually to eat Bole, that narrative can only stand the test of time. It must continue to find meaning and evolve across the traditional food narrative to conversations surrounding culture and economics. For the Level Up theme? That’s 100%.

What can be done more? Community! There should be considerations for building a Community connected to the Project beyond August, and that community can be kick-started like right now leveraging the existing assets, drafting a program around the objective for the community, and lead conversations that will go far and beyond. Community is the new road.

Link to Picture; Bole Festival X Chipper Cash feature on Zikoko


Welcome to the Age of Co-marketing & Value Share

I can bet that every sponsoring brand got a lot more awareness and mileage around Co-marketing with the Bole Festival contents and assets by just leveraging co-marketing. It’s no longer a thing of Rollup Banners, Backdrops and announce that we are your sponsors. Scratch that!

Sponsorship has gone beyond your Logo on our Back Drop. If that’s the value you can still offer now as an Event Project owner, you should go and grab your books. You need more study in marketing and no brand manager or marketing comms lead will pay attention to come onboard your project.

It was interesting to read the Co-marketing drives.

Let me take a few one by one!

Co-marketing with Bolt Nigeria

From the price slash, to the Ride Booking guide, the coupon code and the daily reminders to use the code, it was interesting. You see, they targeted new customers with the NGN1000 slash for first timers in Port Harcourt, targeted existing customers with discounts, and made sure that it was visible and useful especially routing the Venue. That’s top value for both brands.

Co-marketing with Chipper Cash

Personally, I’m aware Chipper Cash has a Content Partnership with BigCabel Media, owners of Zikoko and TechCabal. But what was interesting was putting it to use as a sponsor for Bole Festival.


Aside from the fact that it was low-key PR, it was a top marketing communications approach to sell without looking like you’re selling.

Again, Chipper Cash has a Content Partnership with Pulse Nigeria, and it was also great to see it being in use.

From the feature on Pulse, to the Zikoko Bole story in its popular culture editorial on the site and socials, including being run as an ad was remarkable.

Interesting Email Marketing

Email is a great asset and marketing with email can never be disputed to be one of the greatest marketing and promotions channels for event marketing.

I don’t mean dumping stuff in people’s inboxes. But taking your leads on a journey to your project. With an active fanbase, grown yearly, it becomes easy to sell, up-sell and resell your project. Helps you cut costs on marketing and promotions because you don’t need so many Billboards, fliers and banners scattered everywhere.

As a goldmine, it’s a great asset to show that you have the numbers of potential partners and sponsors who want to be a part of your project.

From introducing the theme, to the major milestones surrounding the events, including stating potential goodies and benefits for participants, I love the sequence and I am particular about the effect it had on the turnup – I mean early turn-ups. People are naturally going to rush to get the benefits.

There were a lot more Co-marketing initiatives carried out including Tiger and the condom guys. Commendable!


Creativity and Technology continually being put in use

Event marketing is a big deal, most times, you get lost and lose profits trying to sell your project. The continuous approach to early bird, no hard tickets and pushing scalability is a great marketing approach.

It means that you know where your biggest focus should be – being in business, but not only that, investing in the right approaches like using technology and marrying creativity to be in business. What it tells you as an Event Project Manager is to think long term and what asset you should invest in.

Is it your corporate identity? Is it your website and technology? Is it your team or people? What would make you not run a rat race and work while baboon dey chop?

The Power still lies with our Micro-influencers, but it is how you use them

I personally believe you should not mention influencers until you know how to leverage them even if they have just 100 followers. Influencers are not saddled with the responsibility to think how to market you, neither are they your Ambassadors or sales people. Literally, it’s not their obligation unless stated per that engagement, and you must continue to think how best they fit into your project.

It is commendable to see how our local influencers are being leveraged and I must say I practically believe in their potential to evolve and become big enough to be platforms that drive engagements beyond the scope of Port Harcourt, and Nigeria. We must give them credit and appreciate their ingenuity. It was commendable their role this year on the project. Big shout out!

There’s a lot to say and this is becoming too long.

In summary;

  • We should tell our stories.
  • Hire a Help to get our sits right when we know we can’t do it (I think Bole Festival might not have done this without a marketing Agency Partner, prove me wrong).
  • Creativity, Value and Futuristic thinking, always.
  • Whatever you’re doing, is not just small, put your mind into a realm of its potential and play that way.

Well done to the organizing team and every effort that went into the Project.

I’m looking forward to the Post Marketing Activities. Until then, here’s to everyone in the ecosystem, take your learnings.

Owen Shedrack

Founder, Outsaurce PEP; Development & Cross-Ecosyem Evangelist


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