Remembering industry icons who passed on in 2023

By Abimbola Mohammed

In 2023, the marketing industry said goodbye to several notable figures, including Abdul Kolawole Imoyo, Tolulope Ogunkoya, Kole Ademulegun and Ekwunife Okoli. These executives had far-reaching effects on the marketing and advertising industry in Nigeria.

MARKETING EDGE herewith pays tribute to the industry icons who died in 2023 and celebrate their impact on advertising.

Mr. Abdul Kolawole Imoyo will forever be remembered for his dedication, professionalism, and unwavering commitment to excellence in the field of corporate communications. He served as the Head of Media Relations at Access Holdings, “where he contributed significantly to the financial groups communication strategies and public image.”

He was also the Publicity Secretary of the Association of Corporate Marketing Communications Professionals in Banks in Nigeria (ACAMB).

Mr. Imoyo, the highly regarded corporate media manager and Journalist, breathed his last on December 17, 2023. He will be remembered and celebrated by colleagues, associates, and the entire banking community.

Advertising expert, Mr. Gbekeleoluwa Tolu Ogunkoya, (1966–2023) was the Managing Director And Chief Executive Officer of Media Reach OMD and regional group managing director, OMD West and Central Africa.

Tolu Ogunkoya, who was born on December 12th, 1966, departed from this world on April 25th, 2023. He started advertising career 33 years ago at Insight Communications, distinguishing himself as a thoughtful and reliable young executive.

Late Ogunkoya left behind an indelible footprint in the marketing communication industry in Nigeria and beyond. He had in the last 27 years been on several executive education programs. Notably at Ashridge in the United Kingdom where he had his post graduate studies in general management and the AMP program at the Lagos Business School (LBS).

With his team at mediaReach OMD, he set a new standard of professionalism, driven by technology and innovations in the practice of media strategy, planning, buying and implementation in Nigeria, and the West African sub-region.

Under his leadership, mediaReach OMD introduced the Nigerian Media Facts Book in 2001, which has become the industry bible for media audience data and trends for the Nigeria Marketing Communications Industry.”

Ogunkoya was inducted as the 87th Fellow of the practice in Nigeria in 2010 and served as a council member and Fellow of the Institute of Directors (IOD) Nigeria. He was also an alumni member of the Lagos Business School and the Ashridge Business School in Berkhamsted, UK. He was the Past President of Media Independents Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIPAN).

The marketing communication guru was bestowed with numerous laurels and commendations including the MIPAN’s Outstanding Advertising Media Personality (OMP) for three decades in 2021, TIES The Industry Award 2020 Lifetime Award Winner (of three recipients in 2020), the Brand Journalist Association of Nigeria (BJAN) Excellence Award 2018 as the Most Professional Media Practitioner in Nigeria and Legacy award (Postmortem) at MIPAN 2023 President’s dinner.

Until his death, Mr. Ekwunife Okoli (1957-2023) was the Founder / CEO of Advantage Consult Ltd. With over 30 years consumer goods industry and significant corporate governance experience in a wide cross section of over 20 African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroun, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique etc., the ace marketer held executive and non-executive board positions in various Diageo publicly quoted subsidiaries, including Guinness Nigeria plc, Guinness Ghana and Seychelles Breweries Ltd.

Mr. Okoli, a MARKETING EDGE Lifetime Marketing Achievement Award recipient who earned his stripes as a marketing communications expert at Diageo, was known for some of these quotes: 1. “The only thing that changes during recession, recovery and boom is consumer behaviour.” 2. “Spend time with the consumers; know what the consumers are looking for.” 3. “People are willing to buy made-in-Nigerian goods – once the value and cost offerings are properly aligned.” 4. “Innovation is so important in a period of recession.” 5. “If you get pricing wrong, it shows off on consumer behaviour.” 6. “Agencies like clients that have clear and consistent strategies.” 7. “30% of the marketing budget gets lost through procurement.”

Kole Ademulegun (1953 – 2023) was Partner/Founder and Vice Chairman at MediaLink Ltd, Fellow of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) and , two-term past president of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN).  He has also served as the secretary of the Nigerian chapter of International Advertising Association (IAAN) as well as a long-term council member of APCON, now ARCON.

Ademulegun will be remembered for his administration’s dogged fight against moves by some state governments to muscle out the practice. At the height of the face-off between the association and the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, LASAA, Ademulegun mobilized some  officials and members of the association to the Lagos State Secretariat to vent their anger to the then Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola,  against the decision of the pioneer Chief Executive of LASAA,  Mr. Makanjuola Alabi, to pull down billboards, running into billions of naira, in the state, as part of the reforms, embarked upon by the agency then.


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