Riquesa Africa, a people first, brand always agency – Sandra Ajayi

Sandra Ajayi is the Chief Executive Officer at Riquesa Africa, a burgeoning 360-degree marketing communications company in Nigeria.

With more than 15 years in the service industry and a deeply impactful stint at Insight Redefini
where she had the opportunity of working at Leo Burnett, The Creative Counsel and Hot Sauce Digital, she is thoroughbred professional cum entrepreneur. Her exclusive interview with MARKETING EDGE which focuses more on the experiential marketing arm of her business, is presented below:

How has it been with Riquesa Africa in its three years of operation?

As a start-up, the last four years have been a rollercoaster on different levels from talent acquisition
and management, to the impact of Covid-19 on human engagement, huge budget cuts due to the current economic realities and generally navigating the business terrain.

What niche did the agency bring into the Nigerian experiential marketing space?

At Riquesa Africa, beyond providing top notch execution and marketing experience, we pride ourselves in being strategic partners who go above and beyond to ensure that every naira works its hardest and delivers on set objectives. We apply foresight, insight and hindsight to our approach to project management, leveraging our database of field workers pan Nigeria. We are a people first, brand always agency.

What has it been like for you steering the agency?

As a woman, leading an experiential agency takes guts, smart work and determination. From meeting chaotic timelines, solving business challenges, staying profitable and competitive, to managing diverse people with their biases and temperaments on a day to day basis, I can say it has been quite challenging but a worthwhile experience. Some days you have to wear heels to win a pitch and other days you get into some sneakers to execute a project. I have learnt to lead by example.

How do you see the experiential marketing sector of Nigeria’s advertising industry, especially in this age of a COVID-19-induced New Normal; and a recessionary Nigerian economy?

Experiential marketing is really about delivering emotive brand engagements that take consumers from wow to beloved. The biggest challenge for me is the exposure gap within the industry. You need to understand the needs and aspirations of various segments of society to be able to achieve the best
consumer response, engagement, brand recall, etc. For those that have the right exposure, creativity is being stifled by budget constraints, lack of proper infrastructure, and brands prioritizing sales over consumer experience. If you create fantastic experiences, it will naturally trigger consumers to engage, induce trial and adopt the brand in focus. The Impact of Covid-19 and the recession on the nation’s economy is still unfolding, people have less disposable income, there is no foreseeable end to the pandemic and the naira keeps depreciating. There is also a noticeable change in consumer
behaviour. Consumers are now embracing experiences, engagements and solutions on digital platforms, unfortunately on the other hand, brands are shrinking their budgets to cushion the effects of the recession without proper consideration for the huge cost of digital executions and the agency ultimately struggles to keep the stakeholders satisfied.

How has the pandemic impacted on Riquesa Africa, in particular?

Every naira has to work its hardest; all plans have to be adapted for digital execution and stakeholder management is top priority. We have become more prudent, ROI driven, deliberate with our marketing
strategy, how we hire and how we execute projects. The new normal requires less human interaction and innovative ways of communicating. Remote working is also a thing for us now as the pandemic made us realise that we could cut down operational cost while achieving so much.

How has the agency been coping at this period?

I have to give kudos to the humans of Riquesa Africa who worked remotely but tirelessly, creating covid-19 compliant plans to keep the business going. The agency’s goodwill, and referrals from
existing clients also kept the business stable.

What, in your view, are the key factors that will under-gird experiential marketing post
COVID-19; and post-recession in

Experiential agencies should be treated as major stakeholders in the development of the Nigerian tourism scene, for instance, because amazing experiences attract tourists, earned PR and investors.
The numerous regulatory bodies and unregulated hindrances within our space, security issues pan Nigeria and the loss of experienced and skilled people to Canadian and European companies will make it almost impossible to compete with the global standards. We need to quickly
partner with IT experts and invest in tech driven experiences/solutions.

Sadly, I now fear that the ban on Twitter and probable regulation of social media may set us back another 60 years. The world is a global village and information and human connection is now just a click away. Nigeria must stay connected post covid-19/recession to catch up and stay in tune with innovations and technological advancements from developing countries.

How would you define the experiential marketing Agency of the future?

The experiential marketing agency of the future will have to be a hub of creative –marketing/tech experts who work remotely but deliver magical projects.

How is Riquesa positioned for that future, especially given its positioning as building Brand and Demand strategies that help its clients achieve their desired goals?

Presently, we are building capacity, investing in tech and continuously exposing and training our team.

What are your projections for this year; and the future?

Riquesa’s projection for this year would be to keep the business stable, end strong. And for the future, we intend to be consumer champions, with innovative and tech driven solutions.

What would you want our readers to know about you?

With determination and the right partnerships, I believe that everything is possible.


It is a 360 marketing communications hub; and specialises in building lead and demand generation strategies that help its clients achieve their desired goals.

APPROACH – Constantly questioning the status quo. People change, and so should ideas. You lead, We create, They inhabit.

MANTRA – A mindset of Excellence, Authenticity and Results

COMPETENCIES: • Brand Strategy (ATL + BTL) • Experience Design & Management •
Public Relations • Digital Marketing • Event Management • Market Research

FOOTPRINTS – Nigeria (BASF, Canon, Legend, Waw, Johnson & Johnson, Dano, Trend Micro, Hitachi, Unity Bank, PZ, HP, Redbull, Samsung, Bigi Bet and Desperados ); and Ghana (Hitachi).

OPERATIONAL COMPETENCE – We have a pool of 6 regional coordinators for each geopolitical zone, 36 supervisors across all states in Nigeria and over 500 adhoc staff. Internally, we also have seasoned operational heads who have worked across all sectors and covered all the geopolitical zones



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