Demola Adedoyin: Life is a Window…. It Opens and Closes

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Call the Chief Executive Officer of Lagos-based Troops Activation, Demola Adedoyin, an ideas distillery, and you would be right. He is feisty and ever willing to enrich and contribute meaningfully to any creative effort or discourse. With such bustling energy, Akogun Adedoyin is armed to the teeth to churn out winning copies and campaigns at the speed of light. Born by a multi-millionaire father, the positive values of a copywriter, and the childhood internship in trading, shaped him to become the man he is today. With a life hinged on a strong footing and mentoring from his late father, the Troops Activation boss enjoyed a self-imposed rite of initiation into the fold of elders, the special breed vested with the exclusive privilege to spice their every statement with proverbs and aphorisms. Akogun Adedoyin talks to Adedayo Adejobi, about growing up, marriage, gender parity, playing golf, religion, meeting his wife and his New Year resolution

Tell us about yourself and your family?

I’m a creative Brand Activation Agent and an entrepreneur. I’m married and blessed with lovely kids. I’m from a polygamous family, headed by an entrepreneur (a trader) who trekked with others to Lagos Island (Eko) from Oro in Kwara State and settled to raise business and family while helping to build his community. We were raised at different times because of the difference in age-cycles of the children. But we were in one camp. For instance, my mum was the first, but she never had any child until her mates had concluded different cycles, but everyone treated her like ‘Maami Agba’, the mother of all, till death.

What intrinsic values would you say have shaped you to become the man you are today?

Positive values of a copywriter and the childhood internship in trading shaped me to become the man I am today.

What were you like in high school?

I was Head Boy and Head of School Media. Had everybody divided for or against and I had fun.

All men have a story. What is your story?

I don’t know yet. But I remember my father told me life is a window. It opens and closes. 

What inspires you and why?

Another one from dad- he says, as long as you get to the bus stop, and you did not meet yesterday’s passengers, your bus too will come.

Your child wants to follow your footsteps, career-wise, would you support him/her?

As long as you also understand that following footsteps does not mean the specific approach to labour, sure! Any mechanic that wants his children to follow his footsteps needs to first look where the value-adding footpaths will be in the near future.

What else do you generally do when you are not working?

I’m playing golf. I read and watch thrillers.

What informed your starting Troops Activation?

Integrated Troops is a child of necessity. It is a diamond- structured agency with a hands-on expertise on deploying integrated marketing communications approach to brand activations. I started my career in marketing communications firms such as Saatchi &Saatchi, Leo Burnet’s local affiliates and Unilever before venturing into consulting business. After years of practice in Lagos, I left the commercial nerve centre for Nigeria’s capital. We have now reactivated the Lagos office- this time with an eye on a better mix of digital and terrestrial integration in the business of brand activation. You can drive Nigeria from Lagos, but it’s difficult to drive Lagos from elsewhere. We wanted something in the industry for a critical need that will continue to change. That’s exactly what I told the new guys who just joined us. I remember once we camped to have a BMP (Brand Marketing Plan) for a Baby Range and the environmental scanning, competitive analysis was telling us the awareness was 90% and saliency was less than 5% for a truly superior offering. I had worked on Pampers in the past, so all the other ceremonies; especially the creative slides were a mere formality. At the Think Tight stage, there was no budget for any ATT activity-Trade and Target Activations. Even fees became an issue.

It was similar for other brands because that was also a time the global brand teams were screaming down our heads that we were supposed to be focused on go-to-market strategies. Then we needed to put in place adaptable structures that can deliver in such situations. My role with Troops then was exactly the same with Linkpoint, Marketing Mix and Edison Rose in the new agency category.

You’ve been in the business for over a decade, what would you call the high and lows of operating a flagship experiential agency in Nigeria?

I think it’s the same across IMC service agencies globally. The music keeps changing, so it requires a constant change of dance steps. Aside from that, we run a diamond structure and we have had good and not tough experiences- other issues that we can take up another time.

What are the top three factors you would attribute to your success?

Creativity, seizing the future, and ability to unlearn and relearn.

How have you remained competitive in a fast-changing global marketplace?

I think that’s a God thing. An effort is for humans, results belong to Him.

2019 has been a rough economic year, what can be done by entrepreneurs and government to stimulate the business environment in Nigeria?

They should co-drive the system for the good of the next generation. No specific actions come to mind immediately. It’s a long list.

Do you think male entrepreneurs in Nigeria typically have a harder time accessing loans through traditional bank channels?

No, it’s a policy and system limitation thing that affects entrepreneurship across. If you allow, I think we should think how things got so bad, that women were going into extinction in business, so something had to be done.

Do you believe the social media and the Internet is a plus to the business environment, as it applies to your industry?

Yes, it is. Just as direct mail was to conventional advertising.

What is your philosophy towards your work?

Challenges are opportunities to set standards.

If you had to compare how you make decisions, to which animal do you think you would be most similar and why?

I can’t tell… I’m a strange animal. I need to share my first career CV with you.

What’s your ideal daily routine?

Sleep, pray and work, then wake up to allocate time to things that are urgent and important first. 

What things do you not like to do?

Conceal my true feelings, routine cooking, staying long at the mechanics… Stuff like that.

Who are your role models and why?

David Ogilvy, Dave Druga (Saatchi&Saatchi), Tim Rump (Unilever) and Aliko Dangote.

Who has inspired you in your life and why?

My father, with so many deeds. He became a multi-millionaire by simply turning-in goods that have been paid for and kept away in the store, on the morning his shop got burnt, to his foreign customers who were simply passing by to console his losses,,after packing their goods at Ebute-Ero for cargo.

How do you define success and how do you measure it?

Success is a measure of Input versus Output. The outcome is by His Grace.

Would you rather be liked or respected?

Naturally, I’m not good at seeking personal likeness. I prefer to be respected. Otherwise, something else is temporarily covering for respect. For instance, I’m not a jingle in my home town; I only got exposed more personally to people who my father respected, back then. But somehow, I’m the Akogun. So it means, Kabiyesi and the council respect me, as a professional son. Likeness in the context of your question is like love without trust and respect; it’s pity. Not love.

What do you think about when you are alone in your car?

I try to imagine the go-slow in my life and alternative routes or vehicles possible.

If I came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for me?

Soft swallow with draw doup that contains elements. 

What’s your favourite song?

I can’t pick any at the moment, but it hovers around Ayinla Omowura, KSA, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal and Barrister.

If you were to pick two celebrities to be your parents, who would they be?

Olu Jacobs and Taiwo Ajai- Lycett.

 How would your best friend describe you?

Not top of the academic class guy, not a saint, not a bad guy but highly gifted in the group.

What’s your favourite ’90s jam?

Then it was Pop. Whitney Houston, ‘I will always love you’.

How did you meet your spouse?

Her late father had brought her to school, got her an apartment and wanted a ‘senior brother’ he could trust in the neighbourhood… so I think the landlady mentioned the final year student in the Boys Quarters. Nothing much really happened then, aside from the regular whispers and she was very friendly with my junior cousin. The only remarkable thing I remember then was she walked up to my cousin (who was staying with me) and his friends for their comments on her looks as they prepare to go for an event we were organising for Sprite. Everybody acknowledged the beauty but she pressed for more from me as it was negative. Everybody laughed about it until she brought it up five years later. Of course, I wanted her from day one, but that wasn’t the brief.

At what point did you know you would marry her?

I had left school with no GSM contact. I stumbled on the contact she had left with me five years before then and on the first visit, shortly before I travelled out for one of those early on-the-job training, I got hooked by the couple that was her parents, especially her dad. She mostly spoke more like my fan then. She’s still a die-hard fan-numero-uno. And then one thing led to the other.

How did you propose to her?

No ceremony. Everything just happened. I’m not much about orchestrating ideas in my private life. That’s only a professional calling. I brought her into the plan and she ‘gree’.

Share the memories of the marital ride

Well. Different windows have opened and closed. Like they say, so much water has passed under the bridge. But I think it’s still a long journey ahead.

What key lessons have you learned in marriage?

No one is perfect. It takes two.

 What does family mean to you?

Legacy, contribution to humanity.

 Does life fascinate you?

Yeah. But not much. Life is a journey on stage. 

If you could be a superhero, what power would you possess?

Extraordinary empathy.

Tell me something you have never told anyone else.

Ha! If you promise not to make this the headline… I was bed-wetting  almost until I became the school’s Head Boy.

What expectations do you have for Nigeria´s economy in 2020?

I expect little more speed-to-the-streets from Mr President and his team. I expect the temporary hardship to continue with a little bit of stability.

What is your New Year’s Resolution for 2020?

Focus more on the purpose of the journey of life personally and add substance to the Integrated Marketing Communications industry table.

How would you rate the skills gap between prospective Nigerian employees and job requirements?

Too wide. The majority come equipped with minimal skills and competencies but expect fantastic appraisals and bullion vans. But there are lots of exceptional talents, though, low in demand and supply ratio.

What potentially nearly possible scientific achievements are you most excited about and scared of?

Artificial Intelligence. Of the five key elements of Digital Transformation. I think it’s leading in redefining the world (Ile Aye!). Those are part of the issues we are going to be setting action standards for, as an aside, on a narrow industry scale, in the New Year. 

Would the world be a better place if no one ever used recreational drugs or alcohol?

Absolutely! Especially when you think you have a little problem. I bet you, those bottles will help you magnify it. It’s better to turn to God. Imagine you can get exposed to pieces of advice from joints where there is no reliable source of any information aside from labels on bottles. Any other thing is from unholy spirits. Of course, we ran a campaign against excessive consumption, but I’m not really against limited use for those who can.

What long-lost childhood possession of yours would you like to see again?

Basically my full hair. And, maybe, Pupsy and Mumsy.

If you could fuse one religion and one sport into a single sports game which ones would you combine?

Islam and Golf.