At Ogilvy Nigeria, we count milestones based on our client’s business success – Henry Akpede

Henry Akpede, an experienced creative leader with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry, is the Country Manager and Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy Nigeria, a member of FirstPrimus Group, and a full-service agency which, in its own words, doesn’t just consider individual channels when working with brands, but looks at the full customer purchase journey when proposing solutions. He spoke exclusively to MARKETING EDGE on recent developments in the advertising industry, in general, and his company, in particular; while connecting these to a pre-election year that this (2022) is and to the future.

The advertising industry has been ushered into this year by such developments as the APCON industry reform efforts and some new corporate kids on the block who gave a good account of themselves at the last LAIF Awards. How would you respond to those developments?

I believe this is a good move as it fosters the development and growth of the advertising industry. It does this by forcing the traditional and legacy advertising agencies to sit up, which provides the young and upcoming agencies the opportunity to compete favorably on ideas, execution, and business performance. The clients will also be better for it as it presents them with a lot more options on channels, audiences, and content forms and ultimately gives them the power to decide on the agency that is best suited to help them bring their vision to life. What do such developments portend for marketing communications firms, like yours, going forward? It means we have to put in a lot more work, a lot more creativity, and produce a lot more profit provided we deliver on the business objectives.

We projected this development for a while now which made us position ourselves as one of the most creative and innovative agencies in the industry today. We are aware that our clients only want to see results, so it is imperative for us to make sure that our strategy reflects our understanding of the consumer which then informs the sort of channels we use that will cause our audience to be influenced and for us to experience a change in their behaviors or perspectives as a result of our creativity.

The Federal Government has also intensified efforts to provide the industry with reliable and scientific audience data, what are your thoughts on this?

As we are moving towards a more digitized society, there’s an increase in better data and technology that are being used to better understand consumers’ behaviour, reasons for those behaviours, and ways to alter said behaviours in a way that’ll benefit our client’s campaign and visions. The availability of these types of data will reduce the shots-in-the-dark so that campaigns going viral will translate to people buying the product. This will also help us better understand the opportunities available within the Nigerian market, consumer, industry, and segments.

The era of digitalization and internet penetration has democratized the media industry with the rapid evolution of consumers, what can agencies do to sustain relevance and growth?

* Focus on building internal capabilities. By being a learning organisation, agencies can weather any change in technology, tools, and clients’ requirements. New channels and economic dynamics are changing every day and we cannot afford to be static. Agencies need to focus on continuous and consistent learning. Every week we get ourselves together to share knowledge and best practices that will help us in our work and relationship with clients.

* Hire and retain the best talent. Finding exceptional talent is hard and retaining them is becoming harder by the day. Agencies should either hire the best talent available to them or turn their talents into exceptional resources.

* Stay close to the clients. We believe we are an extension of our client’s marketing department. If we must succeed, we need to work closely together. If we want to win, we need to help our clients do their best work with us.

How does Ogilvy Nigeria see itself in the light of all these developments?

* We have partnered with key global/regional clients like Mondelez and Coca-Cola to find local relevance and get a foothold in the Nigerian market

* We use our global network not only for our global clients but also to add value to our Nigerian clients’ businesses.

* Part of the global network plus is that we have the advantage of recruiting resources/talents from other markets to work with our local team – making it an unbeatable combination working for our clients.

As an iconic brand with a global foothold, tell us some of the milestones recorded by your agency in the out gone year to help your clients achieve their marketing objectives.

At OgilvyNigeria, we like to count milestones based on our client’s business success. Such success stories like the successful launch of the Darling Hair “Black Girl Magic” tvc (television commercial) with Patoranking; the Cadbury TomTom Breathe For It Summit with top music industry talents and authorities; leveraging the Unified Payments and Payarena’s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” lead sponsorship; successful launch of the new Telemundo series “Lolli’s Luck”, and increased the Passionista” fan base and social media engagement by rewarding loyal followers with Passionista incentives.

Basically, we revisited our approach to addressing clients’ business by latching on to global tools and an enhanced operational unit that helps in resolving brand issues. Simply put, we have new solutioning tools and we are super proud of the talent that delivers so much great work.


Despite the challenges in the country, Ogilvy has demonstrated resilience and in-depth knowledge of market insights. What did you do differently last year as an agency to help your clients survive the harsh economic times?

  • The times may seem hard but smart brands play a purposeful role in the lives of consumers. We encouraged our clients to relook current strategies and play a supportive role to the consumer in a time they need them the most. We encouraged empathy messages, empowered programs via a value-driven partnership, and new initiatives that give consumers meaning to keep going. A clear example of this is what we are doing with the TOMTOM Breath For It campaign that has morphed into a music career platform for young Nigerian talents.

In terms of value addition, innovation, and connections with brands’ overriding marketing objectives, what are your agency’s strategies and offerings to remain a formidable force behind the brands in its portfolio, this year and into the future?

Otunba Seni Adetu, Group CEO, First Primus Group.

  • We will be challenging our clients to go beyond their comfort territories. Innovation and digital harnessing will be our go-to-market strategy to WIN. We would expose our clients to the newest ways to deepen the connection with consumers, especially in a metaverse world, and keep them ahead.
  • We will continue to add value in terms of patented brand-building tools like Brand Ideal, and several market research insight tools.

How would you expect this year’s preceding general elections to impact the marketing communications industry?

Every election year presents the marketing communication industry with an opportunity to support in creating a better Nigeria. Our role as professionals is to play that important role in setting the best agenda and coming up with messages that inspire and connect. We need to look beyond the fat budget but be part of the social cause that will make Nigeria a great place.

What future do all of the above hold for the industry?

The ability to be respected locally and globally as an industry that landed a message (via the best candidate) that delivers citizens’ expectations.

How is Ogilvy Nigeria navigating into that future?

We are deepening the way we work closely with our research, media, and digital team to keep abreast with market developments and customer insights which largely benefit our clients. In addition to local insights and learnings, we are also investing in cross-market learnings and insights from similar categories. This also involves taking learnings from markets which are ahead of the curve in similar categories, to avoid pitfalls and gain from their best practices. We will continue to draw from our global network in getting the best resources and tools from our network to work for our clients. It’s not uncommon for us to set up a global/regional team to work on a certain project for our clients.



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