Sun. Jul 5th, 2020

Adedoyin: Redefining integrated marketing communications business

Demola Adedoyin is the chief executive officer of Integrated Troops, a diamond structured agency with a hand-on expertise on deploying integrated marketing communications approach to brand activations.

Adedoyin started his career in marketing communications firms such as Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett local affiliates and Unilever, before venturing into the consulting business.

He was on the board of the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) for three terms of office, handling publicity and treasury at different times.

After years of practice in Lagos, he left the commercial nerve centre for Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

He is now reactivating 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,” he says.

The entrepreneur understands his industry as a lion knows its prey. He is returning to make a difference and break with the past. “We operate in the market that faces challenges,” he says.

“One of the challenges we have in our own sub-sector has been transparency / accountability in the field. We are going to be reinforcing the pursuit of that aspect of our unfinished business, which is more attention to details as well as transparency and accountability in the field,” he explains.

He says that evolution will continue to take place in the integrated marketing communications industry.

Speaking about some past evolutions within the sector, he recalls the emergence of the business centres. “When business centres came, it was a big thing because shortened the timeline for reporting back from the field in hard-to-reach territories,” he says.

It was easier to visit a centre and send in a report. Then with digital cameras, photographs also became easily accessible from the field. And then laptops for the field workers and so on.

For him, the next level for the industry now is to optimise alignment with digital revolution.

“Now, we talk about Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, AI, blockchain and all others. How do we leverage these to bring more transparency and accountability in the industry? For me, I think that should not be the next level in 2020,” he further says.

He recalls a time when media compliance was a very big issue in the industry, but the industry sat down and did something about it.

At the moment, he says, the industry must align its operations with digital compliance.

“For the industry, there has to be a good blend of both digital and terrestrial for maximum coverage and reach to deliver quality interaction and engagement for businesses,” he advises.

He believes that this is the best time for him to re-launch despite Nigeria’s current economic quagmire.

“This is the best time to re-launch because marketing is also about the survival of the fittest,” he says. “This is the best time anybody who needs to survive has to survive by strengthening the battle front. If one realises that there are critical things that will help in achieving a certain business objective, it is a good time for those who possess such essential skills to register their presence. We want to give our partnering clients that edge across their business objectives,” he further says.

Adedoyin says the business has embraced a ‘diamond’ structure that positions leadership across all facets of the process. The model is hands-on, he adds.

“We must also optimise digital amplifications for terrestrial operations in line with the shift in the habits and attitudes of the consumers,” he says.

Explaining the global nature of brands custodianship, he says that some of them do not need to keep big agency teams across all markets.

Troops has been around and has significantly made impact on brand assignments. “When we launched a soap variant for a client with the mobile bathroom, the objective was to get people to use the brand on a day-to-day basis as against the previous perception of the brand as a one-use curative soap.

The campaign executed changed the perception and also heralded the taste for cool bath in the category. We also worked with Total. We worked on the lubricants with ‘Chop better oil’ idea amongst targeted ‘okada’ and ‘keke’ riders. We were involved in introducing SABMiller’s Malt offering in line the brand’s market entry plan. We had the ‘Omo Wonder Show’ among others for Unilever. We also worked with Dangote, Cadbury and West African Tobacco and others,” he enumerates.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is targeted at removing barriers to trade across the continent, is knocking on the doors. Adedoyin does not see this as a threat, rather as an enormous opportunity for his industry.

“It is an opportunity for us in marketing communications. For Nigeria, we already have a lot of agencies running regional operations. I think that will strengthen that. I do not always believe in protectionism for professionals. Competition is good,” he says.

However, he also foresees challenges if the country does not put its house in order.

“At the moment, the complaint is that goods are coming in through our borders but are not being manufactured by our neighbours. If we do not sit up with our infrastructure and production capability, we may suffer some setbacks in the long run,” he warns.

He leverages partnerships and believes that this is the only way the industry can do big things.

“In our industry, there is a rising realisation that coming together to do things is better than everybody operating in silos,” he notes.

“What we need to do better is institutionalising that practice—being able to have things on paper and getting it to work. What we should be looking at is coming together to do big things—not coming together merely to survive. We need to do it within the framework of what will make us compete globally,” he admonishes.

He is also a protagonist of mergers in the industry. He tells Start-Up Digest that companies will have to merge because skills requirements are not determined by what anyone has in their basket but what the market is asking for.

“You can’t keep building up staff numbers and incurring huge overheads because of one-off requests. A way out is for you to align structures with clear understanding that promotes competitive growth,” he stresses.

There are complaints by a number of marketing communications firms that advert budgets are the biggest victim any time firms begin to see lower margins.

He says this should not be a problem.

“The industry should not exist because of a budget size. The industry should exist because there is a need for the solutions it proffers. What we need is the best-fit solutions to available budget to tackle business or market challenge. The budget may constrain in a way, when you have a fixed mind, but if you open the window of the consumer world and you have a dynamic partner on the other side, the budget constraint can be relieved viz-a-viz the business objectives,” he further explains.

“Also, the age-old saying that 50 percent of ad spend is a waste should not arise anymore. This is in view of the fact that we have since experienced the break-up of the traditional agency compound offerings with a drive towards continuous investment efficiency. What is now at play is the drive towards effectiveness and innovation to deliver optimal return on investment.”
Adedoyin says the business has embraced a ‘diamond’ structure that positions leadership across all facets of the process. The model is hands-on, he adds.

“We must also optimise digital amplifications for terrestrial operations in line with the shift in the habits and attitudes of the consumers,” he says.

Explaining the global nature of brands custodianship, he says that some of them do not need to keep big agency teams across all markets.

Troops has been around and has significantly made impact on brand assignments. “When we launched a soap variant for a client with the mobile bathroom, the objective was to get people to use the brand on a day-to-day basis as against the previous perception of the brand as a one-use curative soap.

The campaign executed changed the perception and also heralded the taste for cool bath in the category. We also worked with Total. We worked on the lubricants with ‘Chop better oil’ idea amongst targeted ‘okada’ and ‘keke’ riders. We were involved in introducing SABMiller’s Malt offering in line the brand’s market entry plan. We had the ‘Omo Wonder Show’ among others for Unilever. We also worked with Dangote, Cadbury and West African Tobacco and others,” he enumerates.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is targeted at removing barriers to trade across the continent, is knocking on the doors. Adedoyin does not see this as a threat, rather as an enormous opportunity for his industry.

“It is an opportunity for us in marketing communications. For Nigeria, we already have a lot of agencies running regional operations. I think that will strengthen that. I do not always believe in protectionism for professionals. Competition is good,” he says.

However, he also foresees challenges if the country does not put its house in order.

“At the moment, the complaint is that goods are coming in through our borders but are not being manufactured by our neighbours. If we do not sit up with our infrastructure and production capability, we may suffer some setbacks in the long run,” he warns.

He leverages partnerships and believes that this is the only way the industry can do big things.

“In our industry, there is a rising realisation that coming together to do things is better than everybody operating in silos,” he notes.

“What we need to do better is institutionalising that practice—being able to have things on paper and getting it to work. What we should be looking at is coming together to do big things—not coming together merely to survive. We need to do it within the framework of what will make us compete globally,” he admonishes.

He is also a protagonist of mergers in the industry. He tells Start-Up Digest that companies will have to merge because skills requirements are not determined by what anyone has in their basket but what the market is asking for.

“You can’t keep building up staff numbers and incurring huge overheads because of one-off requests. A way out is for you to align structures with clear understanding that promotes competitive growth,” he stresses.

There are complaints by a number of marketing communications firms that advert budgets are the biggest victim any time firms begin to see lower margins.

He says this should not be a problem.

“The industry should not exist because of a budget size. The industry should exist because there is a need for the solutions it proffers. What we need is the best-fit solutions to available budget to tackle business or market challenge. The budget may constrain in a way, when you have a fixed mind, but if you open the window of the consumer world and you have a dynamic partner on the other side, the budget constraint can be relieved viz-a-viz the business objectives,” he further explains.

“Also, the age-old saying that 50 percent of ad spend is a waste should not arise anymore. This is in view of the fact that we have since experienced the break-up of the traditional agency compound offerings with a drive towards continuous investment efficiency. What is now at play is the drive towards effectiveness and innovation to deliver optimal return on investment.”

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