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Activation, advertising principles & Direct Marketing should align, Genity CEO

Mr. Demola Adedoyin, former Country Communication Channel Manager of Unilever Nig Plc recently resigned to co-run Genity Limited, a business with interest in Procurement, Engineering and Explorations.


Genity recently concluded shares acquisition negotiations with the owners of Integrated Troops. With the recent arrangement Adedoyin becomes Chief Executive Officer of the agency. In this discourse with Princewill Ekwujuru, he describes himself as a change catalyst.

Who is Genity Limited about and its plans?
Genity Limited is a company that has been on for some time. It’s area of  competence is in Procurement, Engineering and Explorations and also has concluded shares acquisition negotiations with the owners of Integrated Troops.

I have always believed that managing an agency or consultancy entails a lot; one of which is quality gatekeeping. I’d rather that the leader does not go out often but stay back in what I like to figuratively call ‘Defence House’ to be in charge of what weapons are going out than go out all the time and let effectiveness, efficiency and innovations suffer.  I’ll share an analogy with you; it’s about having the attitude of a World Class Coach: you drive the team to deliver, encourage good people to stay, look out for succession planning (up and down) and so on.

Sometimes too, you have to be the focal point in terms of corporate strategy, that is if need be; at other times you can lead the team in terms of sourcing the business and letting your guys develop the strategies, but you still have to see it and be sure it is worth appending the your corporate name on, because you are the gatekeeper.

In business, you may also need to carry along other faces for tactical, operational and transactional efficiency purposes because it doesn’t pay to run a one_man show. That is why Genity decides to form an alliance with Integrated Troops.

After a about one and half decades in the industry, why do you still choose to continue in the industry seeing the myriads of options out there?

That is where my passion lies. Somehow I discovered that I have passion for the industry. One of my driving principles when I was going into the industry was to be behind a huge success; I want to be part of a team that will midwife greatness, whether a product brand or corporate brand, I do not necessarily have to be celebrated; I am contented  being behind what is being celebrated as a great accomplishment. And you know what; the discerning members of the public will probe and discover real people behind the success.

I want to contribute to raising the standard from where we are today to where we should be. We all need to contribute, Clients and Agencies.
Having worked for a global operation like Unilever which is regarded as a school of marketing, how do you rate the Marketing Communications  industry compared to other countries, e.g  South Africa?

The industry is getting more and more vibrant, so I can say we are not doing badly; in fact we’re progressing in leaps and bounds as an industry. I don’t want to join the bandwagon of those who compare the industry here in Nigeria and what obtains in South Africa for obvious reasons. The practice in South Africa has been exposed to the western world long before we had that opportunity. Ask South Africans, they will  tell you that Nigerians are learning fast.
However, there are hurdles to be surmounted.

Before you talk about the state of advertising in any society, you must first look at the state of the practice and practitioners in the context of their environment. Our reading habit is nothing to write home about in Nigeria and it is affecting almost all facets of our life. To compound the sorry situation we have practitioners who cannot afford to subscribe to core industry journals and some online journals that can help improve their practice. We have advertising executives who don’t read because they cannot afford the books.

The situation is not irredeemable though as some of us have prior reading habits and we’re passing it on to the people we work with. One of the things going for us at Integrated Troops is that we read; reading culture here is strong.

Practitioners must imbibe the reading culture and learn to go for more training. We are in a world that is constantly evolving and any practitioner who wants to remain relevant must constantly read and go for training after training.  Unfortunately, some employers are afraid of sending their personnel on training fearing that after acquiring the knowledge they will leave the company; I don’t buy that and I have a panacea to that but it is an entirely different topic for another discussion.

There is also the issue of people hoarding knowledge. We need to share knowledge a lot more. The companies founded in the US and the UK who operate in Nigeria today, whether through affiliates or direct involvement in the Nigerian economy wouldn’t be here if they subscribe to hoarding knowledge; doing so impedes growth but not many people know. On the bright side, we have an industry that is a world class record holder in government tax. The highest tax ratio paid to any government in the world is on Outdoor Adverts in Lagos State.

Another cheering news is that more exposed practitioners from more developed societies are coming into the industry.  Local talents and practitioners who work with these expatriates will definitely benefit from their experiences  garnered I world class organizations.
Why did you leave the agency for client side of the divide only to return?

Without trying to sound immodest, I am someone that is restlessly pursuing knowledge because I subscribe to the notion that what you know is what will take you to where you want to be and what one knows will be his worth; so I was spurred into tasting what the experience was on the client’s.

The experience has further enrich by knowledge bank; now I can conveniently wear the client’s cap; I have a good and practical understanding of the workings of a client’s mind and that helps us to come up with strategies that will add value and improve clients’ ROI.

I have always known that after going the 360 degrees in the industry I would wind up as a Consultant someday running my own agency. Before doing so it is important to get experiences from all sides, besides arming you with that much needed robust marketing experience.
, it also better prepare you for taking the bold step of becoming an entrepreneur.

What is this new craze about activation to marketing?
It is high time people that are into activations realized that it is an integral part of Marketing the better for them. Activation is beyond road shows or getting a deejay and some sales persons to attract the attention of people for a short while and all the razzmatazz.

Activation is about bringing a brand message to life via a campaign. The campaign can be in different ways and formats. It can be via SMS, Events, TV, Radio, Outdoor, PR, Interactive/Digital, Social media, Word of Mouth, Sales, Sponsorship and so on. It is centered around an idea that provides the catch, a connect, a hook (connection) with the target audience for the attainment of the business objective. Beyond catching the attention, it should spur people into action.

Brand activation is about activating the brand to drive home a given message for a specific purpose. It’s got its dynamics too and a successful activation must take the dynamics serious and get it right otherwise the exercise will end up a failure without boosting ROI in anyway.

What are these dynamics?
You need to identify the business objective? Of all the communication channels available, which will be most appropriate taking into consideration the demographics and psychographics of the target audience.

What communication objective drives the business objective? What does the brand actually need?  You cannot activate a brand without a cause or reason.  So what is the reason?  You need to know the reason from the business perspective, from the communication objective and then from the consumer / customer perspectives. Of course without a good idea activation does not stand a good chance.

I always tell my people ‘implementation determines strategy’ In Troops, the marketing gospel we’re preaching to the rest of the industry goes beyond that brands should activate, but that activation works better in simple strategic or tactical combinations in line with the reality of the human_world, using an idea as the conduit for connection and brilliant implementation for quality engagement and exchange with the specific audience.
How do you expatiate this view about activation?

Let’s use the Robb copy which I did when I was with MC & A, “Rub it on” as an example. I can cite it now because the campaign has been rested. If we want to activate it; first it must align with the copy.  Imagine if Robb had branded the medical team during any of the football matches involving any of the Nigerian teams, each time a footballer goes down and needs a medical attention, of course the First Aid team will run unto the field to attend to the player, remember that Robb has branded them; that is a perfect exposure for Robb. At such times too, as the First Aid team run onto the field, you get the public address system to play ‘Robb it on, Robb it on’ as is done in the television commercial.

That is perfect activation. It does not matter whether it was Robb that was administered on the player or not, you have been able to connect with the crowd in a tactical way and that is activation in line with the communications messages of the brand. You can see unison of communication to achieve the same objective.

You can also go on to amplify the players’ testimony of relief after the game. You could also do a podcast where you’ll encourage fans to activate the bluetooth device on their phones then send the Television Commercial (TVC)  or ‘Rob It On’ theme song to be used as a ring tone. You could attach a token prize to this so that fans with the ringtones on their phones win something at the gate and so on; by so doing you have activated the brand via multiple channels.”

Are there any differences between Activation and Experiential?
It can both be the same and different depending on what it is aimed to achieve or the depth of professionalism put into it.  However, if I have to differentiate between the two going by what obtains on the local scene, I think campaign activation  should align very much with principles of advertising and Direct Marketing  with synchronised implementation.

Experiential appear to focus more on the principles of Direct Marketing. Left to me, I don’t like these definitions and lines drawing because besides that the consumers or customers do not see them, it often muddies the waters rather than clear the air. The Important thing is the need to engage your target market and keep it loyal to the brands.

My preferred word is ‘Amplification’. Whatever name it is called by whatever agency, the crux of the whole activation campaign is let more people know! Let’s take the World Cup as another example. Only a few people would actually get into the stadia to watch the matches live, yet the sponsors of the World Cup are thinking beyond the spectators in the different stadia, as we can see they are set to leverage the millions of people that will also be part of the event through television, radio and other channels even large screen viewing centres. Though quality experiences will be offered directly in the stadia, like the Heineken Halls, Coca Cola stand etc.

At Troops, we are saying sponsorships should go beyond the stadia, or for print media clout alone; brands can connect with its target markets by leveraging on the games even outside the stadiums; the large screen viewing centre example is just one approach to it.


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