Tade Adekunle is the Project Consultant of Keskese Limited, one of the leading experiential marketing agencies in the country.
With an experience that is unbeatable, Tade spearheads an agency that parades a crop of young and dynamic thinking professionals whose works translate in the campaigns and services they offer their numerous clients creating connections that positively influence how internal and external audiences feel, think and act about the brands, products and services. Such campaigns according to the agency overtime will ignite improved performance, increase sales and build strong brand/consumer loyalty.
In this interview with MediaConsortium, an amalgam of three online platforms, Amechi Obiakpu of Espinews, Adetunji Faleye of Brand Impact and Godwin Anyebe of Consumersassembly, in his Ilupeju, Lagos office, Tade Adekunle took a dive in the experiential marketing subsector of the IMC space and other sundry issues. Excerpt:
What is your assessment of the experiential marketing industry since 2021?
Like you all know, the world shut down due to covid -19 and Nigeria was not exempted as the country went into lockdown around March 2020. Thereafter, a ban on gathering was pronounced by the government. With this, most agencies working in integrated marketing communications were hit very hard (especially those of us in experiential marketing). We could not do activations to connect brands with the consumers. Then some brands moved activation online through digital to reach some of their audience and ease the challenges caused by COVID. It is this year that there is a little bit of progress. Last year was a very challenging period that many organisations had to reinvent themselves and rejig their strategies for survival. Need to do away with physical concept and come up hybrid events to sustain themselves. 2021 I must say was a very ‘good’ year for the experiential marketing agencies in Nigeria and I guess same will apply worldwide.
Now that activities are gradually returning to normal, what are your expectations?
For us at Keskese, we pride ourselves as coming up with innovative ideas and not necessarily waiting for clients’ briefs before we can survive. Basically, what we have been doing is to diversify to other areas of IMC or areas where we think we will be able to add value and put food on the table. But don’t let us forget that as tough as the industry is, it is also tough on the client side too. Marketing budgets have been crashed down because consumers are also complaining of high cost and the high cost of production have affected a whole lot. In some instances the spending by clients have also reduced because the purchasing power of consumers they are targeting have also reduced. It is a cycle in the fact that, the money circulating is limited. Right now, it is tough and if you consider that everything in the country revolves round the dollar especially now that the dollar and naira are running in opposite direction. However, we will continue to look at what we can do to be part of history positively. I think it will get better especially some of the new ideas we are cooking.
One of the visions of Keskese is to make a difference on every brand you associate with, how has it been?
So far so good. Most of the brands we are working with can attest to the value will bring to bear. Basically, when you look at our ideas and implementation direction, our aim is to create those kinds of impacts that connect brand to consumer and we look for a situation where we allow you dissect the DNA of that brand so that it will leave a lasting memory behind. At Keskese we pride ourselves as an innovative agency, and we create ideas that are fresh and innovative, ideas that will leave a lingering effect. With some of our initiatives, when that brand interacts with the consumer, it will leave a lasting memory both immediate and long time. Our goal is to let the consumer understand the DNA of that brand so that in future when you want to take a decision you will still remember the brand that you came in contact with in terrms of smell, taste, feel and touch. We let you as a consumer understand what the brand stands for. That is what we meant by we leave a long-lasting effect on consumers and that is what we have continued to do and it has shown in some of the awards we have won over the years. For instance, the EXMAN award is not only in terms of brief interpretation or the show business only, far from it, it also rate the ingenious parameters and execution which brings about return on investment for the brand. The impact from the brief to the interpretation to the execution, the impact of the measurement for six months and years thereafter. That is why the clients also will attest that what we did have effect on the brand thereafter.
Can you share with us some of the projects you have executed that has left a memorable effect on the brand you have worked on?
Many of them. Is it MTN Mpulse, Cadbury 3in1, MTN Music Plus, Clorets Campus Storm, MTN Turn It Up. For instance, the MTN Music Plus, where we came up with the idea of a Noiseless Party. We created this concept that you can be at a party with your collegues or friends and listen to different kind of music at the same time without disturbing each other. When we launched it, it wowed everybody and left a tremedious effect on the brand. The project won an international award for the client. And we were recognized for that and since then, we have executed several other activations that have gone to leave lasting effect on the brands we worked for.
We have agencies closing shops and few springing up on both sides, is it a case of shortage of ideas or just lack of business?
We can look at it from both ways. Companies shutting down maybe as a result that the services are no longer relevant or consumers are no longer consuming the product or the world has moved on an servicess or products are no longer in voque. So also is it on the agency side, it is either your ideas are not strong or innovative enough to win you pitches when you are invited or one is not being invited to pitch for business anymore that becomes an issue for the business to survive. It’s both ways and sometimes it’s just tough out there and you know in Nigeria, how many companies are really out there patronizing the IMC companies. You will struggle to count up to ten. And that is where all the agencies pitch for businesses from. If you work for one or two multinationals, you consider yourself lucky. This is aside the few small companies that give out businesses. Everything depends on how creative, tenascious and dogged you are.
How much of impact has been witnessed as a result of digitization from the conventional experiential marketing to the present?
It will continue to grow in terms of the digital space in my own opinion. One thing I always say is that, digital cannot exist in isolation. It is content that will feed digital. Some people have to create the content and in creating it, that is where the opportunity happens. Even if you see hybrid program- its just to amplify some of the things that are on ground. Some people will still continue to create that content for digital to feed on.
In previous years we followed your activities leading to Keskese bagging several awards. What should we be expecting from the agency this year and going forward?
By the grace of God, we are expecting the best. Truly, you know the beginning of the year is always very slow and basically what we do at the beginning is to come up with strategies and achievable goals for the year. We review the previous year and then take a look at the new year in terms of the environment, look at the clients and some of the brands and what they are doing then and see opportunities within existing clients and prospective clients. There are some concepts we are selling to some of our clients and other prospective clients right now. Sometimes it looks like you are working blindly and most times they materialize – be it this year or next year. It’s for somebody on the client side to identify and be convinced that the idea is good enough for the brand to buy into and that is where the grace of God comes in.
How prepared are you for the political space as we prepare for the 2023 general elections?
Though, we write proposals for politicians, but let’s see how it turns out to before the end of the year.
In your opinion, have we seen the best of ideas from the industry so far or we are still waiting to be wowed?
In reference to the book, ‘The beautiful ones are not yet born,’ by Ayew Kwesi Amah, Ideas will continue to emerge. Se your ealier view on digital (hy-brid event), it must have been brewing out there, but covid shot it to public awareness. I am not saying there will be another crisis, but, with or without crisis, people will come up with new and great ideas. And most of these things have been there all along, we are just re-inventing and rejigging them to become something big. With that background we cannot say we have seen the last of great ideas. For instance, we watch some of the big international or local events at different periods and certain concepts wow you and you wonder how people came up with such ideas. Truth is ideas rule the world. We cannot say we have seen it all. So far the brain is still working, and people are still thinking, new ideas, new concept will continue to emerge.
The business environment is tough and what some of the younger generation hear when trying to go into entrepreneurship scare them. What is your message for them?
Part of the ideas we came up with when we did the Experiential summit, a Pan-African event in August, 2021 is to create a section for those aspiring to venture into the industry. We believe we need them because they are people with fresh ideas and the future of the industry, that was why almost eight sessions were created for them with different facilitators and resource persons during the summit. We recognised that younger generation has the potential for growth and the ability to express themselves. Honestly the potentials are there for them to express themselves in the IMC industry if only they are bold and are not timid. Sometimes when I interview some of the young ones, I ask questions like what is the craziest idea you have ever come up with or can you bring down the sun into a cup and it will not melt? Those are some of the ideas we are looking for in the industry. The younger generation stands a better chance of excelling in the industry and we are recruiting them.
So, irrespective of what they hear, it is only the bold that can succeed in any endeavour.
How has the association been able to deal with the issue of double taxation and as a former president of EXMAN how far has the association gone in dealing with the issue of unlicensed practitioners?
First, with the issue of tax. The multi taxation problems are still there because sometime it’s difficult for the tax people themselves to understand that its difficult out there. For example, you want to do an activation in a place like Oshodi, the responsibility of KAI, LASAA, Local goverment and the rest as defined by the law are there but, you discover now that you will pay KAI, LASAA, area boys, Iya loja, Baba loja and LG. This, is a typical example of multiple taxation in whatever form you want to look at it. And I know during my leadership we met with LASAA on it. The implication is that, we will pass the cost to clients, clients will pass it to consumers and that has effect on overall cost as well. However, thanks to Dr Fadolapo, Registrar/CEO of APCON, at least at the federal level he has been able to make an inroad to the Federal Inland Revenue to tell them that how the industry works is totally different from other industries. What we feed on is 10% so, when you come and look at the total budget and slam levy of millions of naira as tax, that calculation is wrong. What we earn is 10% of the budget sent to client. Most of the time these are reimbursable- client will reimburse you and you charge 10% of what you have spent.
The APCON Registrar, Dr Fadolapo has done a great job by educating people at the tax office of the working of the business and I believe they will continue to listen even down to the state level.
On the issue of quack, I believe the regime of Dr Lekan Fadolapo through the AISOP bill has tightened the rope a little bit to deal with the issue of unlicensed practitioners and this is going a long way to let the clients know who to patronize and who not to, and to know that it is a criminal offence both on the agency and the clients side, that agency without corporate license from APCON its illegal to operate. And also on the EXMAN aspect, the current president Mr. Tunji Adeyinka is letting our clients understand that it is better for you to work with professionals because of the code of conducts developed for all to understand the rules of engagement which is shared even among ADVAN members and new members of the experiential marketing community. It is not for the CEOs only but everybody working within the organization because if they fall short the consequence that will follow may be immense.
And I believe that some of the big clients are beginning to understand that working with EXMAN’s licensed agency saves them all kind of unnecessary troubles.