The Chief Executive Officer, Republicom Group, Mr. Tunji Adeyinka, has traversed thenation’s marketing communications landscape. In this interview with Raheem Akingbolu, he spoke about new trends in the marketing industry and vision of the Republicom Group. Excerpts:
One of the most used words among business owners today is globalisation. How relevant is it to marketing communications?
There’s no way we would talk about any sector without talking about globalisation because it is something that is clearly important to growth of individual or any organisation. If one look at it from the consumer circuit, we see the way the media is influencing consumer preference. If you look at it from industry circuit, you will find out that there’s a lot of consolidation happening on a global basis that is reflecting on the industry in Nigeria and other markets. Whether you are talking Africa or Asia, the impact of globalisation will be very important. The latest move you see in Brexit and America for Americans, are reactions by a certain set of demography who feel they have been left out of the development in those environments. And that reflected very well during the last election in the US.
In a country like Nigeria, that is important because if you look at the total advertising market globally, you are talking about $ 2 trillion and a very small part of that comes from Africa. If you look at Africa, for instance in 2015, it was in the region of about $0.25 billion which is extremely small. If you look at Africa and you divide between Nigeria and South Africa, you would find a huge division in those numbers because of the marketing spend that is expended in those two markets. But globalisation is reality. Media consumption, Google and Facebook, and how marketing budgets are shifting to those media companies. Marketing budget these days are not determined from where we sit. The consumers are here, but the platforms are global and they continue to affect what we do in this space.
Does cultural affiliation have any role to play in advertising?
It’s not just in advertising; any kind of communication that is not dug into culture is not going to be relevant. Culture is a key pillar in communication, so no matter what you are talking about in a global point of view, you always need to localise your communication. That is why you have the term ‘Glocal’.
In the last few months, you and other members of your team have been pushing the Republicom brand beautifully in Nigeria. Is this the right time for the group to explore the market?
There’s an African proverb that says that ‘whenever you wake up is your morning.’ The challenge you see in marketing communications today is that clients are trying to consolidate their entire spend because the days of having ten different agencies working for one client are gradually going. Another thing is the area of efficiency of that process. An average brand owner today will wake up and consider having a team that covers the entire 360 degree domain where he or she will have to brief each person. And to achieve that, such client will think of having an agency with organisational structure; he simply needs a DNA that is linked together. I think that allows an expert within the 360 degree domain to lead. So in our case, if we are working for a client working with the entire network, the head lead would be one of us. That lead take the responsibility and cascade to the others. Therefore you have one point of contact with the client. Then, another important is the cost. When recession is biting globally and the bottom line is not growing, companies are looking to reduce their spendings. That is why on this side, the issue of consolidation is important; bring the expertise together and offer that service that allows the client enjoy the benefits they want.
In that case, if your PR arm, for instance, is not bringing in the required result and others are doing well, won’t you yank off that arm and lay off people working there?
In this case, our holding company is called Republicom, but there are seven different agencies that go out and work for their clients independently. And if you remember when we had our last media parley, we said there is Connect Marketing that work below the line, field work and face to face marketing. They have their own clients. You have Redwood, a marketing advisory, thought leadership and PR company. They have their clients. Neukleos is a digital marketing company with its own clients. Same for Imagine Business Solution, Integral, Quore Media, and Image & Time. When we talk about consolidation, it’s not every client that is consolidation minded. In some places where our agencies are currently working, they have other agencies working for the client as well. What Republicom is doing as a holding company is to look at those functions we can warehouse and be more efficient across board.
What of a case where you have conflict of interest, especially when competing brands clash on the group’s table?
That is why we have the holding company. The companies operate in their different ways. Each one can work for clients in different sectors. So if you have a client working with this seven companies in a particular sector, with a retainership agreement, these agencies would not work for another client in that same sector. Republicom is not a service provider. We are a back end company. You would hear more of these seven companies than Republicom.
As Republicom, we have some signature properties. One of the properties is Techplus; another one is Advertising Week Africa. Advertising Week is a global platform where you have Europe, American, and North America versions. The owners of that property are working with us to berth Advertising Week Africa. We are looking at 2018 to deliver that. It’s where you have talk shops, conferences, presentations, for three to four days. The last one was in New York and it was exciting because of the kind of discussions that took place. For instance, the agency model is critical to concept development. Some of the speakers looked at the sustainability of the model. Some were looking at the new agency model. Some were looking from the point of view of clients and challenges changing, therefore agencies have to change. Some were looking at it from the angle that the same structure that worked 50 years ago cannot be as relevant today as it was. It’s the mobile generation. Therefore, messaging, content, campaigns must embrace change. Those were some of the discussions.
For Republicom Nigeria, what was the take home from this year’s edition?
First, it validated our position in terms of where we are headed. It gave us validation in terms of what the future of the industry looks like and where we need to sit and pitch our tent. We are excited about what we are doing, but we know that it will take time to build what we are building. So, Advertising Week has helped us to deepen the knowledge of emerging conversations taking place between clients and advertisers.
Given the change in consumption pattern, what is the future of the IMC industry?
The future is seated in deep understanding of consumers. And that is where data plays a very important role. Data will be front and centre of the conversation. The future is one where you talk about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictability: where you would be able to store consumer behaviour overtime and the machine can understand the way consumer behave and a suitable product for them. Culture is also going to be very important. We have the emerging culture.
Information consumed by the digital generation is so linked to entertainment. Does advertising messages generally have to be linked with entertainment?
There’s a model we have developed in respect to this generation, and we discerned that entertainment is important for them, but there are also other things that are important for them; entrepreneurship. These are people who leave the university and don’t want to work for anyone. Therefore, for this same group, activism is important for them. The key is to understand them in terms of the culture. There’s youth culture. For some, it’s activism, some entertainment, while others it is entrepreneurship. It’s about speaking their language and it may not necessarily be entertainment. When we discover what the language is, it becomes easier to speak the language.
Who is Mr. Tunji Adeyinka?
He’s a very young man. I started my career as a copy writer in those days. I worked for several years in few agencies and then went into below the line space, where I worked with MTN for several years before stepping out to start Connect Marketing.
If you are not thinking strategy, what do you do?
I think Nigeria, I think Africa. The future and the fact that as followers, we are a set of people who do not understand the concept of citizenship and we believe that our role is to sit down and everybody can kick us around like football. That must change.
Don’t you think we are divided along ethnic and religious lines in recent time?
But does poverty and suffering have tribal marks? These issues have been used to divide us. The leaders come from within the followers. We are producing leaders who are unconscious of their responsibilities. As followers, we also have responsibilities. It’s not just that I voted and stay somewhere for four years, and you messed up education, health care and I sit down and not talk because he’s a Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo man. I think our children and generation coming after us would be disappointed in us if we don’t take necessary action now and put our leaders where they belong.