Innovation is at the core of fast changes that abound – Tosin Adefeko

Tosin Adefeko is the Founder/ CEO of AT3 Resources Limited, a young but wave-making PR Consultancy firm in Nigeria. She spoke exclusively to MARKETING EDGE about the heights to which innovation is taking the marketing communications industry to in the digital age, among other things.

How would you define innovation in this age of new normal?

Innovation is now more critical in the post-COVID world than ever before. As it is often said, a crisis presents a choice – to see the danger in the crisis or the opportunity the crisis presents. So, I personally choose to regard this as a period with many opportunities. Innovation can happen in unconventional ways as we have seen post-pandemic; the world has evolved in many ways – from the way we work to the way we play, the way we shop to the way we sell, the way we travel and interact with others; our connectedness is now amplified.

On a professional level, the way brands interact with their consumers to the way consumers respond has also evolved. Things are changing, faster than ever and innovation is at the core of all these. To your question, innovation still remains change; be it incremental, disruptive or radical. Essentially of utmost importance is being able to adapt to the times and staying relevant in the grand scheme of things.

How does that definition apply to your own sphere of the marketing communications ecosystem?

The marketing communications industry in Nigeria has flourished for decades through many seasons, even the pandemic as destabilizing as it was, was really just that – a temporary setback. Considering that all industries were affected collectively it just meant that we also had to go back to the drawing board. To a large extent we have all embraced the new normal. As a matter of fact, I see more future-forward programs across the board; innovation in product development, improvement in services, more opportunities to collaborate and, generally speaking, a seismic shift from our former ‘one size fits all’ approach to solving problems.

Let’s take a minute to x-ray the digital landscape. As far back as the early 2000’s, social media started to gain momentum and digital platforms increased with the aid of technology. During COVID, we all depended on technology for literally every facet of our lives. In a digital-driven world, brands and business leaders are now under pressure to communicate; to reach out and shake hands with their consumers and audiences on a more open platform, no holds barred. As a result, businesses and brands need to always be on the alert, to consistently pay attention to what people are saying about their brands.

Digital technology has democratized access to information and practically given a voice to all and sundry. We all know this has its pros and cons; small businesses are now better empowered with tools to help them communicate on a small budget and scale whilst bigger brands just have to find creative ways to cut through the noise.  It is quite interesting times we live in.

Where, in your view, is the place of innovation in the convergence occasioned by digitization?

Again, as I said prior, in this digital world the kinds of problems that need solving are different. So, as communications strategists we also have to think beyond the usual, which invariably means a convergence of varied competencies. To be very honest, everyone is tired of too many specializations, clients just want solutions and value. The idea that one agency can solve all problems and ‘Do it All’ is a farce to say the least. As businesses rebuild post-COVID, the ideal proposition will be where collaboration can happen seamlessly. The ability to present a clear strategy, on-demand attention and seamless execution is what clients desire to fulfill the speed required to respond in a connected world. Our clients are dealing with a cacophony of global problems; agility and this collaborative approach in proffering solutions to their communications problem is the route to travel.

What is your assessment of the Nigerian marketing communications industry in the outgone year (2021) from the perspective of innovation and innovativeness across the board?

The most noticeable trend in the marketing communications industry was our ability to adapt to changes in the approach to marketing. In 2021, the whole world slowed down, in the process, social media basically dominated every aspect of our lives. Considering that the bedrock of communications is consumer behaviour that simply meant we had to change our strategies in more ways than one. Brands quickly realised the importance of speaking to their customers as humans instead of as data points within a demographic. Another significant aspect of the marketing and communications industry that really improved in the past year is the deployment of data in the creation of strategy. Data is now more accessible than it was in the past and this means professionals can derive more robust insights that go on to inform more relevant marketing communications campaigns.

What picture of the current and coming years does this paint for the industry?

In this and coming years, it is obvious that more digitally focused marketing will be deployed with more brands adapting to and leveraging digital media. However, people typically assume that this ultimately means the eventual death of traditional advertising, but I don’t believe so. Or, at least, I don’t agree that digital advertising will obliterate traditional advertising. Instead, I think that we will see more of a hybrid approach to engaging various consumers. I mean, we manage communications for a technology brand that owns many of the social apps we all use, but even they still find it useful to engage other key stakeholders across traditional platforms.

What are some specific innovations that your company has brought to bear upon its offerings and innovations in 2022 and how are these impacting your brand positioning?

Our mission, since inception, has always been to support brands in their quest to connect; so, our goals haven’t changed. We simply continue to look for incremental ways to help our brands and businesses thrive in a connected world. A big part of this is investing in talents; we are constantly looking out for new talents, training the ones we have and encouraging them to live our mantra. Of course, with great talents you can expect great ideas, services and varied experiences especially for those who entrust their brands to us.

Our ultimate goal is for our clients to experience business transformation. So we love it when they see and call us communications partners, not just a PR agency that supposedly helps to distribute press materials.

Did the innovations pose any challenges? If yes, what challenges? And if no, why not? How did you surmount them?

Given the context of change happening globally, whatever challenges we experienced paled in comparison. As I said earlier, we simply looked for opportunities to first and foremost thrive and subsequently to grow. Obviously, some clients hesitate to embrace solutions that are unconventional but all we needed to do was demonstrate expertise and with all sense of humility, we do have talent that have worked on global accounts that cut across multiple industries. It is more or less a ‘been-there-done-that’ scenario, and where we cannot support, we have solid partners to collaborate with.

What new innovations should your stakeholders look forward to from your company in the coming years?

In the coming years, we are focusing on approaching problems with unique perspectives, leveraging data-driven insights, and utilizing modern and improved tools to achieve this.

Is there the possibility of any new blue ocean resulting from such innovations?

Opportunities always abound, and as creative people we must continue to seek new frontiers. We are constantly searching, researching, disrupting the old and unveiling the new. If I tell you now that we have all the answers of course I would be fibbing; the only thing I know for sure now is the importance of communications has been brought to the forefront of corporates, governments, brands, etc. It is no longer the days of yore when communications experts were brought into the discussion last. What that means for us is we can express our ideas from the early stages. It can only get better from there.

What would you want our readers to know about you?

I am a corporate executive and entrepreneur with over 25 years’ multi-sectoral experience in Nigeria. I have led and delivered outstanding business results across industries – financial services, print/broadcast media and now marketing communications.

I founded AT3 Resources Limited in 2018 as sole consultant from my dining table. As you can imagine I’m excited to have grown the team to a group of 15 executives helping key clientele which include global corporates like META (Facebook), many local conglomerates and influential private clients with their strategic communications.

I like to describe myself as dogged, focused and resolute in pursuance of my goals. However, I do not compromise living my life to the fullest. I love to talk, teach, travel and live!


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