At Ideas Origin Media, excellence is our daily KPI – Israel Obatunde, CEO

Mr Israel Obatunde, CEO, Ideas Origin Media

Israel Obatunde is the visionary behind Ideas Origin Media where he holds the position of Founder and Chief Executive Officer. With a remarkable talent for translating clients’ ideas into impactful Ideas Origin Media Obatunde has honed his expertise over the years in the advertising industry. His contributions have been recognized on both international and local stages, including esteemed platforms such as the LAIF Awards, Loeries, African Cristals, Lürzer’s Archive, and the New York Festival.

In this interview conducted by the Media Consortium team, Obatunde delves into topics surrounding the integrated marketing communication industry, sheds light on the ethos of Ideas Origin Media, and addresses various pertinent issues. Excerpt:

Kindly evaluate integrated marketing communication industry in the last one year.

The IMC landscape has been an interesting one with challenges at different levels. The biggest challenge is innovation in a striving economy. If you are not flexible to understand that marketing has changed from the way it used to be run some years back, you are definitely going into extinction.

One thing is for sure, collaboration is very key. There used to be a time when clients would come to agencies. But now, you have to hit the ground running and be ready to roll up your sleeves. The advantage for someone like me is that I was privileged to work in top agencies in my career. I have worked with Insight Publicis, TBWA Concept, Ogilvy Nigeria and X3M Ideas. The exposure of working with people who really understand the business really helped me. Early in my career I started as an art director but, I didn’t stay there. I had the privilege of understanding what happens in other departments like finance and human resources. I also studied copy writing and I finished it with strategy. This was a deliberate trajectory to understand every aspect of the business.

By doing so, I was able to quickly see gaps and cover them. For instance, when hiring, I know the right things to look for in the person to engage because I can also practically function in all departments. But that does not mean I am the one doing all the work. You need a whole lot of great minds to build your team. Interestingly with my kind of background you will know what you don’t need and what you shouldn’t be spending on. One also needs to be flexible, allowing your staff to work without being micro managed while still being a leader in order to make the clients do better.

You have to put on your thinking cap because your clients are also facing the same challenges you are facing. The reason they are cutting their budget is because it’s a challenging economy right now. So, going to your clients with lots of grammar or 200 pages to show that you know the job without practical conversion or ROI, will not work. What’s the solution you are providing? Businesses want innovative solutions. Apart from that, holistic approach to solving clients’ problems also matters. For us, we don’t create any campaign that is not holistic in approach and in research.

There is also the problem of understanding the market. This is the real problem because the market is saturated. Almost everybody knows marketing nowadays. It is easy to call yourself a creative or marketing professional, but the real ones will be known from the solutions they provide for brands. The difference is in the value they provide.

What are the effects of quackery in the industry?

The first effect of quackery in the industry is doubt. There are businesses you approach and the first thing they say is that we have worked with these persons or these agencies and there was no value in what they did. Situations like that raise the difficulty level in convincing them about what you can do. The onus is on all of us to represent the industry better and also improve the standard. To raise the bar to the respectable status is usually expensive. There has to be value to place on it. Even if it’s not expensive, there must be a value placed on it. And at the same time, you need to increase the standard of what you are giving. So, we need to earn our respect. This is not a peculiar problem to Nigeria’s advertising industry alone. It’s just like saying you want to close down some churches because churches are many. It will continue to increase. The same thing applies to advertising agency. It will continue to increase. That’s where innovation comes in. That’s also where your Unique Selling Proposition comes in. What do you want to be known for?

Is Artificial Intelligence a threat to advertising?

Artificial Intelligence, AI, is not a threat to advertising. There was a time we had new design software and people were scared, still we are here today. There was also a time that we were using CorelDraw. Don’t forget we were using CorelDraw to design, and we were using photoshop for picture treatment. All of a sudden, we started using photoshop to design and it became a threat to CorelDraw. There was also a time, tools for writing were different from what we are using today, but here we are. So, AI has its advantages and disadvantages but being a threat is not one of them. I think we should worry more about its security. There are some clients that will present urgent yet complicated briefs to you and they will want you to work on it within 1 -2 hours. You have no choice but to use AI which will reduce the hours to be spent on the brief.

I don’t think your client using AI to solve a problem is a threat to your agency because your craft can never be replaced. Even Google laid off some employees recently because the organization replaced somethings that are being done by human with AI/robot. AI also needs human inputs as well. It is not everybody that can use AI effectively. There are some things freshers cannot do. So, the question is, are you upscaling yourself to use AI better than your client? At every stage, revolution has to come and it will always come.

Can you tell us some campaigns that you have executed for your clients?

Recently we did a campaign for Jack Daniel’s. Jack Daniel’s has a platform called Jack and the Beats. It is an event where good music meets good food. It was a collaboration with Hilda Baci, and it was a huge success with amazing increase in attendance.

Can you tell us your competitive edge over competition in the industry?

One of the things that works for us is research. We try as much as possible to gather right insights and deep understanding of our target audience. The best way to solve client’s problem is by understanding the target audience. Who are they? What do they want? It is a different thing to be fantastic at what you do and it’s a different thing to answer the brief brilliantly. We at Ideas Origin Media always do our best to answer briefs correctly. We are also big on Excellence.

Give us a bit more about Ideas Origin and how much of an influence your former places of work have had on you.

Some agencies struggle especially when it comes to setting up the creative department, brand management, and strategy. Working in my previous agencies helped me a lot. For instance, at Insight Publicis, the organization was one of the agencies that had good currency in division of labour when I was there. Then, we had the traditional media which consists of the creative department, strategy and brand management. We also had a digital arm with complete creative, strategy and brand departments. So, in IOM as well, an effective structure that aids collaboration between Creative, Strategy and Brand management departments was a priority.

Transparency is also big for us. For instance, in some agencies; creatives may not know why the brand management is rejecting their work, and most of the time the creative may be upset at the brand management. They may not understand why client does not like what they are doing but transparency in the team structure will automatically remove them.

Also, emotional intelligence and professionalism in handling clients is a daily KPI for us. A regular adman will get upset after putting so much efforts and clients rejects deliverables. Sometimes they may be right, other times they may be wrong. However, a business minded adman might feel bad but will still calmly work with the client for a way forward. That takes a level of maturity. Passing through those different agencies gave me the opportunity to groom myself in those areas. I was also at Miami Ad School where I had the chance of meeting top guns.

When I was working with other agencies, I don’t just do one part. In those days if you are my writer, and I asked you to write and you are forming busy, by the time you come back the following day, I must have completed the job, which most times got approved by the client. I don’t like balls dropping. That was me in another man’s job.  I will put in my sweat and blood in anything I do.

So, when I started Ideas Origin Media, it was not a total strange terrain for me because, one way or the other I had successfully managed another man’s business in different capacities.

What is your staying power in the industry?

I will say I am always hungry for more. For me, yesterday is gone the moment today starts. I always say to myself that if some global agencies are still relevant after 50 years and more, whatever I have done, I am just starting. The good thing is that at Ideas Origin, we have the energy because we are young and vibrant.

What necessitated the expansion to United Kingdom?

The rate at which people are relocating is scary, and when they get there some strive to get a new job while others get to start new businesses and new inventions. There is a lot of people who have reached out to me saying I want to do this or that but, can’t access this or that. They are looking for people that they trust already. That’s why we are in the UK. They are looking for agencies to work with and they believe that we can deliver.

What should we be expecting from Ideas Origin?

More exponential growth and undeniably huge impact.

What’s your projection for the agency in the few years?

We didn’t enter into any awards last year because of a couple of registration hassles and the likes. Now, we can enter into most awards in any part of the world. We also have network opportunities to work with global agencies so more great things are enroute.

The big thing for us is to establish ourselves on prestigious platforms, bring home gold awards, even on Cannes. Is it a big one? Yes! Is it possible? Yes!

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