Every Brand Story Is Different – Lanre Adisa, Noah’s Ark MD | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Every Brand Story Is Different – Lanre Adisa, Noah’s Ark MD

Lanre Adisa
Posted: Oct 18, 2016 at 2:10 pm   /   by   /   comments (1)

Lanre Adisa, Managing Director/Chief Creative Officer, Noah’s Ark Communications Limited, spoke to Olamide Bakare on his firm’s vision, its partnership with a foreign agency, Dentsu Aegis Network; what makes brands tick, among other issues. Excerpts:

Why do some brands grow explosively when others that could be flourishing die lonely and forgettable death?

Every brand story is different. That is the truth of the matter. We have to probe the story of each brand to determine what is responsible for its fortunes or otherwise. As you rightly said, some will come with outstanding success. Sometimes it has to do with the basic benefit of the brand. A brand can come to the scene and reach all the touch points. There is also need for consistency. If you look at the story of brands that have stayed, you will notice the fact that the brands engage in conversation with their audience. Take for instance, Coca Cola cannot stop talking about refreshment, I am accessible, i.e. renewing that essence every given moment. It is doing that through continuous communication. The same applies to other brands that have grown big like Indomie. Each of them has looked for the interests of its market and finds a way of realigning those interests so that they can be relevant.

It is a whole lot of work, which is the reason why I said each case has to be looked at to determine why it failed and others have succeeded. Certain fundamentals must be fulfilled one of which include the fact that is there any value to be enjoyed, is it accessible?

BlackBerry was once the toast of mobile phone users. Today its fortunes are waning. Could this be part of the reasons?

Things keep changing. For me, it is about being alive to the changing dynamics. At a point, BlackBerry was the real deal because it offered something the market needed. At that point, I remember the social media were not as big as what we have now. But I think they (BlackBerry) were slow in realising where the market was headed. And the likes of Apple, Samsung could read the market dynamics and latched onto that and have gone far with it. The point I am making is that it is about how smart you are in this market. What I have observed is that BlackBerry is too slow to catch up with other brands like Google and Apple. And if I don’t think you are relevant to me and I have other brands or products that can play that role in my life and appear to be more meaningful to me than you then I would prefer that.

What is your assessment of marketing communication in Nigeria vis-à-vis what obtains in other climes or jurisdictions, especially advanced countries?

I would say we are making progress if we look at where we are coming from. I would also say that we don’t lack the talents but we need to brace ourselves up a little bit more. I think we are beginning to get that consciousness. It is a lot better than where we were before. Despite the economic recession, the Nigerian economy is still one to be reckoned with in Africa. So, for me, the fundamentals will still remain which explains why the marketing communication will also need to raise the game…

Because there are complaints that some clients including multinationals outsource their creative works outside Nigeria?

First of all, we need to put something in perspective. What we refer to as outsourced job, i.e. commercials, are sometime done at the insistence of the client. The client may say he is interested in certain kinds of production value. The truth of the matter is that the production industry in South Africa is a little bit more advanced than what we have here. However, it does not mean that we cannot shoot commercials here, depending on the budget. It does not mean that we cannot do it here. Of course, we have seen outstanding campaign by MTN. Take for instance, Saka commercial when he ported from Etisalat to MTN. It was shot here by a Nigerian production company and people could reckon with it. Although production value may not be at par with what obtains in places such as South Africa, but the message was clear. We were not disappointed with the outcome of what they did. What is important is that even if I have reason to shoot outside, I owe it a duty to ensure that the communication has resonance with the Nigerian audience that it is meant for. I know for sure that if the message is foreign, you are likely going to be questioned. There are campaigns that were shot outside that you will never know where they were shot. So, it is the duty of the agency to be alive to the issues that pertains to the interest of the audience we are appealing to.

However, I think the most important for us as an agency is that we encourage ourselves to shoot here in Nigeria. I believe if it can happen and when it does happen, it helps you to do some kind of technology transfer of sort. People learn from it. All the technical crew learn new tricks, get more advanced and get more confident in what they do. For me, that is the way to go.

Your agency seems to be ahead of competition, especially taking into consideration it not-too-long presence in the industry. What are the critical success factors responsible for this?

We don’t have a secret formula. We just do what we love doing and keep believing. We are as good as our last piece of work. Right from day one, we have always seen ourselves as not just a local agency but one that is ready to compete with any agency from anywhere in the world. Wherever people talk about creativity or marketing communication business, that is where we want to compete. Our vision from day one is that we want to be in the league of successful brand builders out of Africa. If you look at Africa, South Africa comes first followed by Egypt, Tunisia and Kenya. South Africa is celebrated all around the world and if I can compete with a South African agency, then that means that is where our agency belongs. At least, we have had cause to do that. We are among the few Nigerian agencies that have gone into pitches with their South African counterparts. Although we did not win it, at least, it said something about our vision in terms of where we want to be. We have done that twice between last year and this year. And that is the way we see ourselves. We are in this among the very best in the world. It is possible to think that some of our staff are non-Nigerians. But I can tell you that we are all Nigerians. We do not have expatriates. We understand the Nigerian market and play the game like it is played anywhere in the world.

Your agency recently signed a pact with a foreign agency, Dentsu Aegis Network, which is quoted on the Japanese Stock Exchange. What does this mean for your agency and clients?

Let me first of all clarify something about Dentsu Aegis Network. Dentsu is a Japanese agency. Dentsu at some point bought Aegis, forming a network such that all other agencies in the Dentsu network around the world outside Japan operate as Dentsu Aegis Network. It is still the same network but it is a very good way to say that they will not dilute the Japanese Dentsu Aegis Network. If you know the role of London in the way advertising goes, you will know how important the relationship can be. For us, our reporting line is South Africa, sub-Sahara Africa and London.

Having said that, I think the idea of an affiliation is one of the steps in the journey towards reaching our vision. At a point in time we had agreed that we were going to advance the relationship beyond affiliation. But at the moment, this is what it is. The reason for embarking on this journey is that we want to be in the league of most outstanding brand builders out of Africa. And we think that fulfils that dream for us both in terms of what we stand to benefit. This is because you cannot play this game and hang it around your local environment alone. We need a shot at something global, to be able to plug into some resources, to be able to plug into opportunities for our people to have better exposure on multinational type of businesses. With this kind of opportunities, they can mingle with people around the world on development in the industry because the world itself is a global village. If you want to play big, you cannot stay in your backyard and play big. Take for instance, if you are playing football, the only way I can show the world the stuff I am made of is to play in the best leagues in the world. Perhaps there are some guys who are better than the guys in Europe, but nobody will reckon with them until they see them play in any of those other leagues. It is the same thing in this industry, that for us to be the best in the world, you need to be at that global table.

In the past, we have had local agencies embark on affiliation and thereafter the relationship collapses. In your own case, what structures have you put in place to prevent such occurrence?

In our own case, we have what we call the call option, telling ourselves, i.e. both parties, that the starting point is affiliation, with a plan to advance it beyond that. And that has been the nature of the Dentsu Aegis Network. They want to have a skin in the game. They want to be part of the business of advertising. They are here for the long haul. I think, in that respect, unless something unforeseen happens, we stop at that, I don’t see that happening. For me, I also do not want to be involved in something that leaves a relationship open-ended. Remember, back in those days, a couple of those agencies that were involved were looking for another name next to their name. If that is the reason for going into the affiliation, if you achieve it, good, if not, too bad. However, I do know that a couple of those networks are looking for more than that. So, it would be difficult to compare what is the interest of each of those who were involved in the past. Nonetheless, I am very positive about our new partnership and I think the sentiment is the same with our foreign partner.

I understand that Media Fuse is also in affiliation with Dentsu Aegis Network. Now that you have entered into partnership with Dentsu, what happens to the media buying arm of your agency? Are we likely to witness a restructuring?

In the world that we live in today, we cannot do things the same old way and expect to get a different result. What we have done with this relationship is to play to our strength and subsume other arm of the business where we lack high level of expertise. We know that we cannot claim to know more about media than Media Fuse neither can they say they understand creative arm of the business like we do. So, what Dentsu Aegis Network has done is to find creative and media partners in Nigeria. As it is now, Media Fuse becomes our media partner. This is not saying that we do not do media business anymore. They manage our media business without us losing out. Of course, we started a media business of our own which I think will take a long time to grow to the stature of Media Fuse. Should I continue to do that or redeploy my energy in what I am best at? So, I would prefer the latter which is what I am doing now. I think for me, everybody is going to determine what is best for them. For us as a business, I think that is what is best.

Are you saying that the affiliation will provide opportunity for knowledge transfer?

Of course yes. Our people will have access to exchanges, training opportunities, resources within the network. Apart from that, it offers a different thing entirely. As an independent agency, there is no doubt we have gone thus far but we believe that this gives us a bigger opportunity to do better than we have done before.

Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), the regulatory body, is still without a council. As a stakeholder, are you not worried about this development? Don’t you think this protracted delay will affect the growth of marketing communication industry?

With regards to APCON, I think everybody in the industry is concerned that the council has not been constituted. However, on a personal note, I think it is a reflection of how much reckoning government perceives our industry. It means we don’t mean so much to them. I think the people who should work on it are doing their best. But having said that I don’t think it should stop us from developing. I don’t think we should be waiting on a rubber stamp government council to get the industry moving. It should not be a limitation in the way we run our business and develop creatively. It is not ideal that I don’t have authority well constituted where it should. For me, it is an anomaly and should be sorted out. So, those who are vested with the responsibility should do that.

With your clientele base swelling what are you doing in terms of capacity building to meet the yearnings of your clients and retain them?

We started out eight years ago and the strength then was that it was easy for one to look into everything we had to do because it was a small agency. For a long time, people still carry that image of Noah’s Ark being small but for us it is not derogatory. Of course, we have grown beyond that image today. But we have tried to ensure that we don’t lose the attention. As at now, we have four agencies that can attend to certain businesses i.e. there are four agencies within the overall name that we have. That way, we don’t lose sight of what we have to do. Any new business that we have there is still that level of attention that is required.

In five years time, where would you want this agency to be?

People will always project. Our projection when we started five years ago, we wanted to be in a situation where people will notice what we were doing both in Nigeria and outside. I think by the fourth year, we were the first Nigerian agency to get into the Archives. In the fifth year, we got the national diploma from Cannes. All these things are very important. You were asking what the secret is. To me, it is the fact that we are visible. We were bold enough. And these things get noticed locally and internationally. This year alone, we were at the African festival at Marrakesh where we won the first gold that any Nigerian agency could have won at an international festival. We are setting the pace. So, in the next five years, I may not be able to say specifically but I can assure you that we will be consistent. I believe we will stick to our vision of being in the league of the best agencies around the world. We are on that journey right now. I believe in five years to come, the world will know far more about us than they know now.

As the business grows larger, do you have the plan of quoting it?

I cannot say anything right now; it all depends on our needs. When we started, we had the idea that we wanted to go into affiliation which we are doing right now. However, we believe that by the time we are 10 years, I believe there should be equity participation from our new partner. And if they think that is what is going to be best for us, so be it. For me, I don’t think that is what should be done out of ego.

There should be a reason for it. If there is no reason for it, then I don’t think it is necessary. But the most important thing is that whatever we do to keep that vision alive is very crucial to us. For me, the most important thing in this business is talent. It is the fact that you can retain and attract talents. Take for instance we want to be on The Gunn Report. The Gunn Report is a special report that aggregates all the award winners around the world. For us, being there as a participant in that rating is very crucial. For the records, in the recently released Loeries award rating, we were declared the number one agency in sub-Saharan Africa. The honours, in themselves, are very important and form what the clients are looking at. So, we want to build on that and possibly be in The Gunn Report as soon as possible.

Comments (1)

  • Akande Joseph Oct 18, 2016 at 3:55 pm Akande Joseph

    Greetings to the general public, get 25KG and 50KG brand of rice at a cheap rate in stock for any PRODUCT/TYPES of rice.
    Order any brand of THAILAND and INDIAN RICE from us.we deliver to any state in NIGERIA..CONTACT
    comptroller Mustapha kabiru-on
    (+2349077393351) or (+2349077632138)
    EITHER WHOLE or RETAIL SALE..However minimum order is from 20 bags to 600/900 bags full trailer of any brand enlisted below:
    Royal umbrella=15,500
    Mama Gold=15,500
    Royal stallion=15,500
    Rising sun=15,500
    Special rice=15,500
    Mama Africa=15,500
    Royal crown=15,500
    Ade Brazil=15,500
    Elephant Gold=15,500
    Super eagle=15,500
    Tomato rice=15,500
    Caprice =15,500
    Thanks for your patronage.
    We give the best quality and sound bags of rice
    For Quote and Order, contact comptroller MUSTAPHA KABIRU:
    (+2349077632138) or (+2349077393351) for Purchase GOD BLESS YOU ALL
    .Comptroller MUSTAPHA!!!ON
    (+2349077632138) or (+2349077393351)

Comments are closed.