Interviews

Through Innovation, we add value to our clients – Olayiwola Jegede, CEO, iMinnd Experience

iMinnd Experience Chief Executive Officer, Olayiwola Jegede
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iMinnd Experience, a fast-rising business solutions provider and a 360-marketing communications agency is fast registering its presence in the heart of the Marcom industry where it operates. Although a young agency with young professional staff who know their onions. Every work churned out from the firm have since stood out as an agency that has come to stay.

In this interview with Media Consortium team, iMinnd Experience Chief Executive Officer, Olayiwola Jegede says, the firm is in the business of creating the wow experience for every brand it handles. Excerpt:   

What is your assessment of the industry in the past one-year?

When we talk about the integrated marketing communication industry generally, you will notice that there was a bit of growth last year because the challenges brought opportunities. We will also agree that with all the economic challenges that Nigeria had during 2023 election year till where we are today, it has been very tough and through that, opportunity also provides itself for agencies because everybody is looking for solutions to mitigate the challenges. Then, the consumers are fast becoming kings because they can dictate what they wanted unlike previous year where brands imposed many things on consumers.

Now, you must be careful on what you are imposing on consumers. You need to consider the demographic and the social economic class of your customers and how all these are impacting their lives no matter what you are selling, be it beverage or alcohol. With that, you see that a lot of agencies are having opportunities to work across all industry. So, I feel, generally there is always room for growth. With more challenges, there will be more opportunities depending on where we are all tapping into, and more route to reach the end users.

Can you share with us some of the activities you participated in during 2023 election?

We participated in the pitch for the presidential campaign though we didn’t win it but, our sister agency got some jobs. Interestingly, we were busy with more of our brands that were active. There is a brand call Flying Fish, we were the agency that did their activities throughout last year. We are very big on growing baby brands and new brands.As you might have known we were involved in marketing Trophy and now the brand is a household name. We started with Flying Fish and the brand is still growing. Basically, we were able to partner with like Flying Fish, Idols, Castle Lite by handling all their events in Lagos and Abuja including Power oil.

But Castle Lite is not common…

Yes! AB-Inbev owns the brand but, there was not much marketing spent on it. Prior to my setting up this agency, when I was with my former agency we worked on an activation where we brought J-Cole to Nigeria. The budget was about $3m then before the client reduced it and that affected the push for the brand. Luckily last year, there was a resurgence to do more for the brand.

We need to also understand that one of the challenges the brand also faced was the Nigerians’ preference for strong spirit and beer brands. We like the saying, “if e never catch, e never catch,” Because of that, there was a lot of push back because the brand is too lite. Again, like we say, consumers keep evolving, everybody now keep looking after their health, considering their weight and other things hence, more people are now accepting the brand for what it is.

We started working with the brand from last year. It should now be more available because the route to market of International Brewery is strong and you will see Castle Lite and Flying Fish, maybe in not the same proportion but it will be available.

Considering the challenges of the past year(s) how are you planning to make things different this year? 

The year is starting afresh, and we believe that it’s an opportunity for everybody to step back and address every issue in the industry and proffer solution. We as an agency, we do embark on retreat on yearly basis to go out of the state to refresh and review our activities and come up with new ideas and activities.

We were in Ibadan, Oyo State capital in the first week of the year where we had to discuss all the challenges, internally and externally. We also realized that the country is in a dilemma because, irrespective of what you made last year, it will almost be that number divided by two given the rising cost of things. Though, it might be the same in revenue but not the same in value. This is because our foreign exchange is not stable, and a lot of brands have cut down on their spends. I was listening to the news recently and heard someone complaining that a bag of sachet water was N400. That tells you how cost has risen. The only way forward in finding solutions is to be proactive- meaning, you must be innovative by thinking of something different rather than the same old style. Everything has to change, and we in the private sector have to be at the driving seat of the innovation drive. 

From last year, we picked a brand and looked at innovative way we can add value to it. Take a brand like Flying Fish for example which is tilted towards water, most of the events we did was at the beach or pool. We changed our direction that not every time everybody goes to beach or look for a pool to go. Then, we asked ourselves what we can do differently to attract end users. We had done one at the beach where we had about 4,000 people attended. But the next one we did, we gave the client a plan to take the activation to the land rather than the beach, and we did it at Muri Okunola, where we brought water to land which was quite innovative as we had over 7,000 people in attendance. That for me is the only way for the future- people just have to think. I tell people that being in the creative industry means robot cannot take over our jobs no matter how fantastic the idea is because, they are garbage in garbage out.  Lots of creative thinking and processing are involve achieving the targeted result. That shows that human capacity is what our industry is going to survive on.

How much of technology do you deploy to give you an edge in some of your deliverables?

I think generally technology can work well depending on what you are modifying or using it for and the result you want. For instance, in our industry, the key innovative way of doing things with technology is data, and a lot of agencies/people understand the power of data. Many people have data, but they are raw file in which you have to modify before you are able to use. How technology comes to play is thus simple. For instance, if I want to do an activation and I need 5,000 people. I don’t need to go on the street any more to get the town crier. All I need to do is get the data because I have access to it, doing the same thing over and over. With access to that data all I need is just text message and get prompt results. Again, through data we can also get trends. These are ways we can solve all kind of issues, and thank God there are different apps one can use to process any kind of data depending on what the end goal is.

What innovative ideas are you working on for 2024?

What I will advise generally is that agencies must go back to the drawing board. Though not many clients realize that we are partners and that’s why it’s hard for them to meet agencies and work as partners. At iMinnd few clients we work with understand us. We brainstorm whenever there are problems and proffer solutions. I think experiential agencies have to go back to our name, experiential. What experience are we selling? We have to sell experiences through innovation. 

We as a business, we have a couple of products we are working on and as the year rolls by you will hear from us. Let’s come back to selling experiences. Even if its media or radio, what is that catchy thing that will linger in the memory of people for a long time. Those who are sales-oriented professionals are in marketing business and not in the business solutions landscape. Most clients engage agencies because they believe we can do it and agencies in Nigeria are getting there. X3M Idea won the first Cannes Lion for Nigeria, showing that it is no longer child’s play. Normally in the past, brands used to run to South Africa to get agencies to create their campaigns, but the trend is changing now. We are equal to the task when selling experience. That’s why I applaud what ARCON is doing in terms of curbing foreigners from engage in local activities through setting regulations that are strengthening our activities in the Marcom industry. For instance, the use of foreign models – considering the fact that these campaigns most times are for local consumption, there is no point using foreign model for them. This is part of the buy Nigeria campaign which is aimed towards growing our industry and the economy.

Do you still believe in putting booth on the ground in the market?

500% yes. This is because digital and social media cannot be sufficient. There are a billion and one contents that are hustling for space. Apart, our attention span as human being is 10 seconds. So, it’s not possible to get the attention of all consumers at once. But that experience in the market cannot be taken away- which is a one-on-one interaction, and it leaves the consumer with unforgettable moments which in a way imparted positively on the brand. That cannot go out of fashion. We need to touch the consumer’s soft point to grab and keep them as loyal consumers to the brand – that is the experience. Putting booth on the ground is an experience that comes with using all the five senses of experiential.

Why we have been talking about innovation and technology is because we cannot do without them. It’s also important to say that it’s through experience that you can hold on to the people at the grassroots than digital people whose attention span is very low. Getting the masses is very key because they are the ones who have the numbers. The word-of-mouth advertising also plays crucial part because market space is where everybody goes to get first-hand experience of any brand.

The kind of advertising that used to wow us in the past are missing in present day what in your opinion is the reason?

In spite many changes in the system, some people choose not to change and adapt. Agencies are using information at their disposal in addition to the feedback they have to produce TVCs and contents that are more relatable to today’s consumers, certain demography that need to consume that advert. If you are very active online, you will realize that many adverts that are memorable to you have been criticized by some of the new consumers of these contents. I remember a seasoning brand advertisement where a woman was shunned by her husband when she tried to hug him haven just returned from work. That advert is facing serious criticism right now.

Agencies are doing what they know to do best- feeding the newcomers with what they need to drive sales, visibility and create that top of the mind awareness. That is basically what we are doing right now.  We cannot always go back to the ads of the old or try to do what we have done in the past just because some people have chosen not to evolve. Yes, they may have some nostalgic feeling because of how things are done in the past but, how about how things are done now? These are work that are being retained in people’s mind, and they are causing disruption.

Any plan for affiliation?

There is this saying that, if you want to go fast, you go alone but, if you want to go far you go together. If there is anybody that does not want to collaborate that person does not want to go far. At present we have affiliation with a Ghanaian agency called Radiant Active, a 360-marketing communications agency. They visited our agency sometime in November last year because they saw a lot of activities we are doing online.

We are open to affiliation. The goal is to make sure that we put Nigeria and Africa on the map- gone are the days where the picture you see about Africa are children with flies all over their faces. Now, we are world leaders across industries. So, if we want to go far, we really need a lot of people to come on board to collaborate and partner with us. Even under the body EXMAN, ARCON, there are some degree of collaboration among agencies to ensure we all get things done. We are very open to collaborations and partnership this, I believe is the way to the future.   

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