MARKETING EDGE: 20 Years of audacious journey in brand journalism

By Ralph Tathagata

“People with passion can change the world for the better.” – Steve Jobs

Twenty years ago, a gentleman, who strategically factored passion into the equation of his ambition, set out to build a unique magazine brand in Nigeria’s media space. With little or no financial backing, he dared every known and unknown impediments to establish a brand-centric publication from scratch, while blazing a trail in a relatively new segment of the nation’s media ecosystem.

Prior to that period, practitioners and thought leaders in the Nigerian marketing communications industry were subscribers and avid readers of foreign brand/marketing magazines and journals such as Ad Age, Campaign, Adweek and Marketing Week among others.

Despite many challenges, MARKETING EDGE was born. In the course of its 20 years journey, the magazine has transformed into an iconic brand and a go-to omnichannel platform with ubiquitous presence and offerings in brand news, analysis and industry conversation throughout Nigeria, Africa, and the world via digital.

The full story of those humble beginnings, stops and starts can only be told from a comprehensive inside perspective in the personality of Mr. John Ajayi. Hearing directly from the man that founded the brand-centric magazine, which has made all the difference in the annals of Nigeria’s brand journalism, Mr. Ajayi recounted numerous challenges. He, however, pointed out a recurring challenge, on a few occasions, of having the print edition of the magazine withheld by the printer following the management’s inability to pay for the cost of production at the time.

As the saying goes, people who are passionate about what they do, rather than just “being in it for the money,” tend to be people who have more positive outlooks and can overcome difficulty through problem-solving. Therefore, rather than let challenges scuttle the vision and mission, the publisher and his team trudged on. According to the MARKETING EDGE boss, “there has been plenty of tension along the way, but the publication persevered – in no small part thanks to loyal readers and clients who stuck with the publication through good times and bad, even as it metamorphosed into a digital platform, an online community of millions of readers around the world.”

For MARKETING EDGE, brand journalism in the last 20 years, in contrast, hasn’t just been about brands, companies, products, or the people. It’s all been inclusively about the industry and closely-related events, topics of interest to the stakeholders and all the people in it. To further demonstrate total commitment to its vision and mission of “Promoting the Brand Idea”, MARKETING EDGE’s Annual National Marketing Stakeholders Summit and Brands & Advertising Awards of Excellence was established 11 years ago.

As technology continues to disrupt every facet of human life and all industry segments, social media, brand journalism and storytelling have also integrated to create great content. Also, the proliferation of digital combined with the democratization of information via the Internet has shifted information consumption habits dramatically. Where once readers were comfortable being spoon-fed, each of them now possesses the tools to be active information seekers demanding real-time answers for their every want and need.

Conscious of the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to brand journalism, especially in a digital age where the reading public has become empowered to choose the information they engage with, MARKETING EDGE strategically adjusted to serve the emerging and dynamic behaviour patterns of its readership across all demographics by going digital with about 80% of its offerings across all platforms.

This year’s Summit, which has the theme, “The Sustainable Growth of Marketers: Adapting to Challenging Opportunities In a Disrupted World”, will be held on the 15th of September, while the EDGE Awards ceremony will be held on the 16th at the prestigious The Podium Event Centre, 124, T.F. Kuboye Road, Lekki Phase 1, Lekki, Lagos, by 5:00PM.

The 20th anniversary ceremony, tagged the EDGE Awards, is an initiative of MARKETING EDGE to recognize sterling achievements across the nation’s integrated marketing communications spectrum. The epochal events have also provided the publication a new brand positioning brought to life visually with a graphic language that focuses on the idea of journeys, routes and navigating the path of excellence in brand journalism.

Feelers emanating from seasoned IMC industry veterans, professionals and stalwarts reveal that MARKETING EDGE has become a pacesetter and a force to reckon with in Nigeria’s brand journalism ecosystem.

Dr.Ken Onyeali Ikpe, the Chairman/CEO Graviti Hill Limited, said the impact of MARKETING EDGE has touched every sphere of the industry. “MARKETING EDGE is a business vision of the future. The 21st century is about data, platform and content. MARKETING EDGE gives you two, which is platform and content. So, in terms of how you have done, I will say you have done well.”

On her part, Maureen Ngwu, Managing Director, Media Seal Limited, affirmed that MARKETING EDGE has delivered on its brand promise in “promoting the brand idea” and also leading the frontiers and expanding the boundaries in promoting marketing and advertising knowledge. “MARKETING EDGE has done well for itself in terms of getting the right industry news and even beyond the industry, because most times I go to their website for trendy headlines and then deep-dive to read more. They have done well in the information segment, and also in digging out the talents in the industry while having their opinions on topical issues, which also helps every other person.”

Giving his assessment, Ayodele Kupoluyi, Managing Consultant, Ashmaukups Ltd., noted that over the last 20 years, the platform has immensely gone beyond its brand promise while consolidating its position as the authoritative source of news, events, and happenings in the IMC sector. “I will say MARKETING EDGE has even exceeded its brand promise in impacting the industry. For somebody like Mr. Ajayi, starting MARKETING EDGE was very audacious, because it was a period where people didn’t really believe in such type of magazine, he started and kept pushing, and some people started encouraging him. Today, he is not only doing the print magazine, he is also online, as well as on LED billboards and television.”

Also, Jude Odia, the Managing Director of Starcom Media Perspectives, said that MARKETING EDGE as the nation’s pacesetter in brand journalism, has consistently set new benchmarks in the industry. “MARKETING EDGE is a pioneer if I am allowed to use that word. It has helped to pioneer a whole marketing of brand journalism and, to a large extent, you guys have opened the space for other people to also play on a very fair basis. You have as well helped the entire spectrum of the industry in terms of advertising, creative, media and several others to really drive relevance and have visibility.”

In conclusion, an important aspect of a journey is to make it worthwhile and beautiful. For MARKETING EDGE, the 20 years journey has been a key factor that keeps it driving on learning, innovation and work culture enhancements that will continue to “promote the brand idea”.


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