Grateful Ayeni, Osagie stretched me thin – Olamide Jasanya
Young and vibrant, Olamide Jasanya is one of the under 30s pulling a lot of weight in the Industry today. The Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Dramatic Arts graduate turned strategic marketing professional and story teller, fields questions on his career trajectory, swift moves and projections for the industry among others issues. Excerpts.
Who is Olamide Jasanya?
I like to describe myself as a story teller. Currently, my storytelling is channelled through my work as a Corporate and Marketing Communications professional and used in the areas of Strategic Marketing, Event Planning and Management, Public Relations, and Brand Management.
Besides work and my other interests, I am a real fun bag, I like to think, although I would choose my couch over an outing except of course, the trio of Asa, John Legend and Chris Daughtry are performing.
Tell us about growing up, education, childhood dreams and your family?
I grew up in a closely-knit family. My parents, teachers that they are, were disciplinarians who would not condone any form of indolence. I learnt quite a lot from them, especially the importance of being people-oriented, which is something I treasure till date. It comes in handy as it helps me better understand and meet clients’ and consumers’ needs.
I studied Dramatic Arts at the Obafemi Awolowo University and majored in Playwriting. Honestly, I thought I would end up in Nollywood but somewhere along the line, I fell in love with suits, ties, and cute briefcases then later presentation and strategy—till I finally discovered Marketing Communications was the way to fuse my skills. Since then, I have continued to develop capacity, taking relevant courses and certifications. Now, all I dream about is brands, marketing and, perhaps, being the first person to sell ice to an Eskimo. I hope nobody beats me to it.
How did your journey into marketing communications start?
I started out as a journalist with Nigerian Entertainment Today. The job was quite tasking as I was a young school leaver and Osagie Alonge, who was my direct Boss, and Ayeni Adekunle, the owner of the company, were no-nonsense individuals. I was stretched thin, but I really am grateful for how it turned out. Working with them helped me better understand the techniques of storytelling, presentation, interviews and, of course, gave me access to VIP events where I met with a number of celebrities, some of whom I still have relationships with. From there, I developed an interest in Public Relations and, expectedly, Black House Media was my first point of call. Thereafter, I joined Brooks and Blake, and later Red Media Africa.
In the over seven years I have practiced, I have worked with fantastic colleagues and together we have created magic for several clients, notable of which are Unilever Nigeria Plc, GSK Nigeria Plc, Access Bank Plc, Suntory Beverage and Foods Nigeria Limited and product brands like Star Lager Beer, Gulder, Heineken, Guinness, Sensodyne, Knorr, Pepsodent, Mamador, Olympic and several others.
With hindsight, I am grateful I started out as a journalist. The knowledge I gained back then has helped me immensely. It got me by-lines on websites like Pulse, Bella Naija, 360nobs, and BrandCrunch where I currently run a column, BrandTalkWithLamide, where I share my two cents on happenings and trends in the industry. It also helped me to be able to put together sales-driving and reputation enhancing collaterals for clients.
Tell us about what you do and your core area of specialisation
My area of specialisation is Corporate and Marketing Communications and it involves me creating excellent content, leveraging media channels and relevant tools to create and sustain preference for clients—which can be brands or organisations. This preference, depending on the objectives, can be demand for the product, belief in a vision or change in attitude.
It really is an interesting field to practice, I must say. It allows me function as the nexus between consumers and their needs. It forces me to think deeply and analytically, not just proffering solutions to needs but presenting it in the most appealing way.
As an expert what are the major challenges of Marketing Communications in Nigeria and what are the possible solutions?
I have only been around for a while, so my senior colleagues may be able to do better justice to this, but in my short stay, there are a few issues that I find worrisome and it will not be out of place to refer to them as challenges. First for me, is that the fact that the idea of integration in the marketing communication space is fast fading. These days, it is common to find several brand campaigns that have disjointed communication. Often, PR saying something and advertising saying another thing and digital media also not in sync.
I feel strongly that this issue stems from the disregard for certain key departments in the entire mix. Too many times, you find that a mix is brought in at the latter stage and when it is, it is often reduced to media relations and management—PR that is. The same, sometimes is the case for digital marketing, most of whom are called in when brands want to trend. Every department is key to whatever objective a brand wants to achieve, hence the need to carry everyone along from inception, if possible the RnD stage—in the case of a new product.
Another challenge is the fact that there is no standard yardstick to measure performance and this often comes to fore when discussions about ROI come to the table. Apart from Digital marketing which seems to have that sorted with page growth, followership, engagement and other metrics, PR, Advertising and the rest of the mix are still questioned on the value they bring to the table.
What’s branding to you and how do you think proper branding can help businesses grow?
Branding, I like to say, has gone past the era when it was solely for identification purpose. These days, branding has become a means of communication and that communication must be emotive enough to connect with people otherwise the essence is lost because the audience you seek to target are being targeted by a hundred other brands at the same time.
This, for me, is what makes the practice even more interesting. The countless strategy and brainstorming sessions with good heads, the pitches and presentations, the sheer ability to tell a million and one stories with just a few words that your target understands and connects with. Branding, to business, is more than just a part of it; it is the whole of it and the brands that are currently doing well are the ones who understand this.
Do you consider marketing been done right in Nigeria or how do you perceive your services can help manage the industry?
I feel Marketing Communications like several other industries in Nigeria isn’t where it ought to be. However, it stands a better chance at growing and fast too because the core of marketing communications is, thankfully, tied to creativity. This singular fact makes it easy for practitioners to succeed and do as amazing as their foreign counterparts. And this has been the case going by the several international awards and partnerships local agencies have been winning. Noah’s Ark, X3M Ideas, Red Media Africa and some others have, in recent times, done Nigeria and Africa proud at different international award competitions, which is a great thing. If this same energy continues, I believe that in the nearest future, the industry will be one to reckon with despite being the many other disadvantages the industry suffers in the areas of technology, finance, government support other limiting factors.
2018 just closed, how well or otherwise would you say the industry fared and what are the projections for next year?
To say the industry fared well this year, is describing it modestly, I think my colleagues and I did an amazing job this year. A lot of creativity was brought to fore despite the limited budgets and other unpalatable factors. This fact is evident in some of the ads that graced our TV screens, billboards etc., in the stories that splattered our dailies, the partnerships that emerged, and the general outlook of the industry. I am not the only one who thinks so—over 50 percent of the respondents in the 2018 Nigeria’s PR Report think so too.
The energy this year was amazing, so was the creativity and it can only get better. With regards projection for next year, I am quite optimistic the industry will enjoy massive attention. The first quarter is election period and with that comes the need for a lot of storytelling and other related services. Besides that, 2019 will see the birth of more daring campaigns and strategies and this will be largely inspired by the need to meet the yearnings of consumers, who will most likely grow exponentially. Also, I see virtual intelligence coming to play and strongly too and this will also be in a bid to create memorable experiences for consumers—that is speaking to experiential marketing. Customers will want to experience first-hand what it is you are selling before making decisions and VI will come in handy.
This may sound like troubling the waters but I also feel that in 2019, it will become obvious why this era of Brand Ambassadorship should be scrapped and I say this because, apart from the fact that a lot of brands made wrong ambassador choices this year which exposed the anomaly, several others didn’t sweat the ambassadors as they should, thereby hinting the needlessness of the whole concept. But away from these reasons and very importantly, customers are right now becoming obsessed with one another and seem to believe each other more than the so-called stars. So, advisably brands should rather look for ways to strategically enlist their consumers as ambassadors cos only then can they get the true worth of the concept of Brand Ambassadorship.
What are your future plans and projections?
I like to think the future is now because now is really all that we have, so rather than go and on about what I will do in five years, I will tell you what I did already, what I am doing and will do today that will guarantee tomorrow or as it is being called, ‘the future’ will be bright. People who know me, know I have a thing for knowledge and I have these past years pursued it actively. I am already a member of few professional bodies including Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK, Nigerian Institute of Management, and Chartered Institute of Project Management, UK and I am pursuing my Masters in Business Administration degree. Essentially, all of these is so I can better add value to organisations, brand and clients I work with.
I am presently partnering with an e-learning platform, Virtual Tutors, where I teach Brand Management. The videos have been recorded and will be available by end of January 2019 and I am looking forward to other possible meaningful partnerships across various sectors. I am also writing a book on the travails of women who have suffered domestic violence and marginalisation. It should be ready before my 28th birthday, hopefully. It looks like there’s a lot on my table, but I am enjoying the process, learning to take it one step at a time, excelling at my present responsibilities while positioning myself for bigger challenges.
Who are your role models and how have they helped influence your career?
I do not subscribe to the concept of role models, but I have a few people I admire, and whose input have helped my career tremendously. I have been blessed to work under supervision of some of the most amazing individuals whose ability to tell exciting stories amaze me always.
Taiwo Ogunwumi, Executive Director of Brooks and Blake, remains one of my favourites; he is always available to listen to my ideas. Ayeni Adekunle’s strides and his belief in possibility reminds me there is a lot more to be done and more importantly that everything is possible. Damilola Owolabi, the Stakeholder Engagement Manager at Lumos Nigeria is another person I appreciate and regularly bounce ideas with, same for Tunde Asekun, Account Director at Dijo Communications. Tunde Success Osideko, HR Manager at MTN Nigeria, knows how to help me calm the storm and see clearly, same as Chude Jideonwo who is more of a friend than a Boss. I have several close allies in the industry and the strength in their energy pushes me to keep developing my craft.