In Search of Gulder Ultimate Men


What happens when you do a reality check on reality shows to determine the level of impact on both brand, the market and of course, the winners of the prize. As Gulder Ultimate Search enters its 10th year, a tour down memory lane is what we present here. Tough job, but we have been able to bring some of the past winners to answer the question: What did they do with all the money?

Reality shows are growing in this market. Brands are making hay, throwing in millions in this engagement platform in the effort to get the attention of a seemingly intractable market. Although the outcome of every of such show is the empowerment of certain categories of winner by either enabling them with various sums, often huge in relative terms, of money and other prizes, it is said the ultimate winner is really the brand. When such a show cuts with the audience, a cult following is created that binds the sponsoring brands with the market, creates new opportunities to deepen market share and retains brand atop the mind.

But the brand spends heavily to achieve this. Meaning that every stop must be pulled to make sure the show achieves desired results. Any failure of any kind leads to certain disaster. The brand loses money. The audience that has come to associate the brand with the event gets disgusted and takes decisions not usually of the sponsor’s economic good.

But what happens when reality shows are successful? The excitement generated by reality shows functions like a combination of steroids and glue. It stirs the minds of the people, driving to, sometimes, irrational decision making in favour of the brand. It energises the people and creates a collective bond, driving in one collective thought across the target group, making a mass audience think almost alike. It permeates the mind with particular pictures and imageries to the point that whether it is the brand that is being mentioned or the name of the sponsorship property or even the eventual winner, images of the brand is evoked.

Till they end their careers, any time Chidinma and Inyanya, for instance, are seen playing their music, the name MTN is evoked. They emerged from an MTN sponsored reality show called Project Fame.

Now let us mention names like Ezeugo Egwuagu and Dominic Mudabai for instance. The moment these names are mentioned, Gulder Ultimate Search rises from its corner of the mind and as it does this, it carries the brand, Gulder, with it. Ezeugo was the winner of the first ever Ultimate Search.

These legions of strong intelligent men are brand ambassadors and carry te brand every and anywhere they go. This year, Gulder will seek to “create” its 10th winner, having proven to be the most consistent of all the reality shows in the Nigerian market.

The GUS series as it is called for short is the very first 100% local content reality Television programme in Nigeria and it is a survival type reality programme that highlights the struggle of contestants against themselves and the in their search for a hidden treasure that brings to the last person standing instant fame and fortune.

And the fortune is quite sizeable. From relative obscurity, men and women have become rich and famous just for daring the wild in the GUS challenge. The very first winner in 2004 went home with a brand new SUV and a cash prize of N4 million. This has increased over the years to the present high of around N10million plus the SUV.

For these young, strong men and women that dare the wild, life transforms. For Gulder, love for the brand is reinforced. For a brand, introduced in 1970 and faced product failure the very first year of its life over perceptions that it caused headache, Gulder has tarried well. After this initial drawback, Gulder returned, reformulated the next year and has grown tremendously ever since, moving from 1.5million cartons on first year of launch to 15 million cartons 10 years later in 1983.

Today, Gulder does well over 30 times that number and as the beer market intensifies in competition, thanks to the exploits of low-end, regional brands like Hero, Goldberg, 33 and to some extent, Dubic, Gulder has aged gracefully and has as a matter of fact, set its eyes higher by looking to move away from the middle to become a premium brand. When this is achieved, it will commend higher price in the market and that means higher margin. A new campaign, tagged, The Ultimate Arrival, is already driving this with remarkable success.

Historically, Gulder is a brand that reflect adventure. From launch its payoff lines have gone to reinforce this. First, it was the beer that was “Strong flavoured” and “Just right for you”, then in the 80s, it became the beer “That makes you feel real fine.” Today it has evolved to “The Ultimate” and with the name of the reality show bearing the name, “Ultimate Search”, Gulder is looking like it might be in history as the brand with a tagline that would endure the longest.

Even the new campaign, The Ultimate Arrival also reinforces this. At the launch of the campaign in Lagos, media people were wondering whether the brand was leaving its forte of being a brand that reflects adventure, macho-feeling and bravery for a subtler, cool characteristics, managers of the brand denied this. Fielding the question to reporters, Emmanuel Agu, Marketing Manager – Gulder, Legend and Life, explained that the fact that The Ultimate Arrival TVC showcased the Gulder Man’s lifestyle and relationship does not take away the brand essence and values of Gulder. He added that Gulder is being repositioned as a national premium brand that meets the needs of male and female consumers who yearn and aspire for success and achievements.

This reposition is happening at a time the brand can afford to make a showcase of as many as 10 people that have walked its hall of fame from the obscurity to the limelight. And this is talking about the ultimate Ultimate men. When one country the runners of and other consolation winners, the community of ambassadors that have moved up the ladder, thanks to the Ultimate Search grows positively unwieldy.

Former winners of the show have become successful people, leveraging the fame and fortune the show thrust on them to pursue careers and live good lives. It took painstaking search as we went all out to find the nine previous winners. We could not capture all of them but the number we have represent a fair distribution of just how good it feels to be an Ultimate Man!
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Dominic GUS
Dominic Mudabai won Gulder Ultimate Search, Season 4, held in 2004, at Shere Hills, Jos Plateau. 

Gulder Ultimate Search has thought me that ‘potential’ is a negative and that it means something unrealized. I was a potential and after GUS I became ‘dynamic’ and pro-active. My life has completely changed since that day that I turned out as the winner. I have ventured into many businesses and careers that would have been tough to do if I was not an Ultimate Man. I have done a lot of modeling jobs in addition to my other businesses. I have been able to empower my family, live a good life and motivate friends and those in the larger society to be brave and exercise intelligence. Today, I am an actor. I have appeared in a number of movies and soaps including Heaven’ s Gate and Seven Days Running. Heavens gate was produced by Zik Zulu Okafor. I’m currently the Etisalat Easy Life Ambassador. Last year I was one of the Gate keepers for Season 9 of Gulder Ultimate Search. In the previous years I was the brand face for the Gulder Ultimate Search. I have done modeling adverts for other brands also. It could never have happened and so quickly too if I was not there at the Shere Hills in Jos to vie for the ultimate prize with other equally gifted young men and women.”

Michael GUSMichael Nwachukwu won Gulder Ultimate Search (GUS 5) 5, held at the Awgu Hills, Mmaku, Enugu. 
I took the all d storms life could threw at me, but learnt to stay strong and stand tall based on my experience in the jungle. I’m still standing on my feet. I’m not even shaken. After I left the jungle, I went straight into the business world to lay some foundation and get a solid base for me to fall back on in the event of any lull in the entertainment industry. I also worked for a while in a private capacity, travelled a lot, meeting and making social and business contacts along the way. But I didn’t leave the entertainment scene totally. I did some TV commercials, I also did some movie pilots, came back as a gatekeeper in the highly successful Gulder Ultimate Search IX. Currently planning & setting up a pilot of a TV show of my own which I hope should come on stream by the last quarter of the year or first quarter next year. I would love to do movies but only if d script and quality is right. I have seen the vast improvement Nollywood is exhibiting. Award winning directors like Lancelot Imasuen, Desmond Elliot, Obi Emelonye, Tunde Kelani, Jeta Amata are raising the bar every time. They inspire me to select quality over quantity. Gulder Ultimate Search has positioned me to take advantage of these opportunities.

Oyekunle GUSGUS 7 OyekunleOluwaremi won Gulder Ultimate Search 7, held at the Omo Forest, J4, Ogun State, in 2010.
Gulder Ultimate Search has impacted my life in many ways. After emerging the winner I have had exposures. I have travelled, I have met great and good people. It’s the platform God gave me to go further in my career; it has made me more responsible and see life from a different point of view. Since winning the Ultimate Search, I have done quite a number of Movies, modeling jobs, contracts other international jobs. For instance, I reported for the Oscar nomination ceremony in Los Angeles 2013. I got the job as a host for an entertainment company called CELEBVILLE 360, while I was studying at the NEW YORK FILM ACADEMY, Hollywood, Los Angeles. I have shot a few movies all yet to be premiered: Some of them include; “Unspoken” (alongside Stella Damascus), a movie shot in Cameroun; “Heavy Beauty” by Derwin Productions shot in Lagos; Sting, a movie produced by my team – 7th Media Production company, in conjunction with Derwin Production and Mighty Jot studios. It is the first production for MARV (Man Against Rape and Violence). A series of movies will be brought out/made to address the social issues of rape, molestation, violence, drug abuse and other crimes. And I featured in some movies while in LA: a short film titled Garbage Between can be seen on YOUTUBE, and a feature Christian movie titled “Nuptial” which is coming soon. As for modeling, I was a face in Diamond Bank advert materials during their rebranding in Nigeria and other African countries. I have also modelled for DSTV to mention a few!!
Christopher GUS
Christopher Okagbue won Gulder Ultimate Search 8, held in Ososo, Egbetua Quarter, Edo State, in 2011. 

“As regards being the most visible of all past GUS winners, I still don’t feel accomplished. There’s still a lot I plan to achieve and it gets frustrating sometimes when there are minor setbacks because I’m a workaholic. I don’t like being idle. Nonetheless, I thank God for where I am today. I have a few things I’m working on. Some of them you may already know while some are still cooking and I can’t really say much about them but I’ll try to at least give some hints. Firstly, after winning GUS 8 in 2011, the next big thing that followed was me landing a role on Africa’s most watched TV soap Tinsel where I play the character Emil Haruna. At first, I didn’t really get to do much because I didn’t have that much screen time. But over the past one year that I’ve been with Tinsel, my character has grown tremendously, so big that my character actually has a huge fan base. I’m also into music. Unfortunately I haven’t really had the chance to do so much because of my crazy shooting schedule most times. But I’ve been working. I’ve written and recorded a whole lot more songs. I actually believe that it’ll be easier when eventually I kick off my music career because I have a lot to put out there.

Paschal GUSGUS 9 Paschal Eronmose: Life As The Ultimate Man
Knowing what you want and working hard towards getting it, is a trait that many wish they possess but do not have the luxury of claiming as theirs. Paschal Eronmose, winner of Gulder Ultimate Search (GUS) Season 9, is however one of the few with such trait. The 24 year old final year student of Applied Mathematics at the University of Benin, surprised everyone but himself by emerging as the Ultimate Man in the 2012 edition of Gulder Ultimate Search which was held in the deep forests of Usaka in Obot Akara, AkwaI bom State. He had gone into the forest determined to emerge with the Gatekeeper’s Fortune and his winning strategy, to pose as the least threat to the other contestants till it was too late, worked. He walked away with a whopping N9 million, swagger allowance of N500, 000 and a brand new SUV.
To say that Paschal Eronmose has gotten his groove on would be an understatement. With all that cash, one would wonder what this Ultimate Man has been up to in the past six months and what opportunities his experiences have presented him. “My experience since I was pronounced the Ultimate has been like another quest, ultimately challenging and intriguing, with every step coming with its own challenges” he explained. Paschal Eronmose insists that his stint in the Gulder Ultimate Search and the title of Ultimate Man have opened more doors than he could ever imagine and given him the opportunity to actualise his goals. “For starters I’ve been able to reach out to the upcoming generation, visited schools and delivered educational materials to the less privileged. I founded an NGO for creative youths and children, The Little Hands Initiative, with the goal of encouraging creativity, fostering and rewarding originality amongst the contemporary youth.” It is obvious that he has not been spending his prize money on frivolities, as he plans to inculcate that determined spirit of following one’s dreams in tomorrow’s leaders. “I also plan to expand the NGO to cater for abused and broken children and build them into well rounded individuals and adults that will run with dreams, moving the nation in the right direction.”

His financial and social status may have changed, but it seems like nothing else has. His determination to give youths a fighting chance is evident in the fact that he has continued to invest his cash prize towards the actualization of this dream, giving back to society. “I and my team are building ahead of steam, gathering momentum for a project in collaboration with Edo state Government for the development and harnessing of nascent creative talents for senior secondary school students in the state which would be supported by the Ministries for Youths & Sport; Arts, Culture & Tourism & also the Ministry for Education and Women Affairs.”


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