Victor Johnson, great advertising superman takes a bow

By Zion Rufus 

…. Industry mourns

In an unfortunate twist of turn and fate, the Nigerian marketing and advertising firmament lost one of its finest, Mr. Victor Johnson, former Managing Director of MC Saatchi & Saatchi Ltd, Lagos.

The second generation advertising guru bidded the world goodbye yesterday when he breathed his last in this terrestrial hemisphere.

Renowned for his unwavering professionalism, mentoring prowess, and uncanny ability to spot budding talents, Victor Johnson’s impact on the advertising landscape has been profound. He was not just a leader but a guiding light for countless professionals who have risen to prominence under his mentorship.

Lekan Fadolapo, Director General of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), remembers Johnson from his role as AAPN’s Membership Committee Chairman.

According to Fadolapo, Johnson adeptly nurtured relationships, displaying empathy for the youth and fostering inclusivity.

“Johnson had great empathy for the younger generation,” Fadolapo stated.

“His conviction in people’s potential and impactful leadership will be sorely missed. I got to know him when he was leading the membership committee at AAPN. He was really good at getting along with everyone and people in the industry will really miss him. He cared a lot about young people and always gave them a chance. He believed that everyone could do great things, and now that he’s gone, everyone feels his loss because he made a big impact. People will also remember his strong leadership. We’re all going to miss him a lot,” he added.

Group Chief Executive Officer of SO&U and Co-Chair of the THECS Policy Commission of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Udeme Ufot, who was a witness to Johnson’s leadership, reminisced about their interactions.

He said in brief chat with MARKETING EDGE: “I recall his move from Insight to MC&A where he became CEO. He exuded charm, amiability, and a penchant for impeccable attire. During a past encounter, we discussed industry challenges and solutions, revealing his profound professionalism and diligence. He garnered immense respect from many, truly living as an advertising virtuoso.”

Mr. Johnson’s keen eye for talent extended beyond his personal encounters. In an article he once penned about Steve Babaeko who now sits as the President of AAAN, IAA Nigeria, and CEO X3M Ideas, he recalled a daring moment that led him to hire Babaeko.

“On April 12th, 1995, he boldly entered my office. Against my norm, I didn’t scold him but rather hired him instantly based on intuition. His honesty and lack of negative vibes guided my decision. My nose didn’t fail; Steve excelled. He displayed knowledge beyond his status, impressing me. He embraced the role wholeheartedly and never looked back,” Johnson wrote.

Steve Babaeko, also shared his profound grief on the demise of this industry stalwart.

He said in a Facebook post “With deep sadness, I learned of Mr. Victor Olaotan Johnson’s passing. Affectionately known as Baba VJ, he was a remarkable leader who indelibly impacted us. As Managing Director of MC&A (Saatchi&Saatchi) in the mid-90s, he wasn’t just my boss; he offered my first job, mentored me, and remained a support pillar post my tenure. His strictness was balanced with love and humor, and his wisdom resonates in my journey. His belief in X3M ideas’ success was evident, and his support unwavering. As we grieve, the Baba VJ school of life prays for his soul. Farewell Baba VJ, your legacy endures.”

Meanwhile, the impact of Johnson’s leadership was not limited to his immediate mentees; his wisdom and guidance had a ripple effect that reached industry-wide.

John Ajayi, Publisher/CEO of MARKETING EDGE Publications, eulogized Johnson, saying, “Mr. Victor Johnson epitomized advertising throughout his life—competent, skilled, and cerebral. He radiated elegance and charisma, captivating with humor and profound anecdotes. Nigeria’s advertising and marketing community mourns this gem, an advertising grandee known for boldness and integrity. We pray for his family’s solace and his eternal repose.”

Kelechi Nwosu, Founder/CEO of TBWA/Concept, though not well-acquainted with Johnson, recognized his leadership and fatherly traits. Kemi Fabusoro, Executive Director of AAAN, echoed similar sentiments, acknowledging his role in shaping industry leaders and extending opportunities, while affectionately calling him “Baba VJ.”

As the industry mourns the loss of this advertising luminary, Victor Johnson’s legacy remains, inspiring generations to come. His contributions have etched an indelible mark on the advertising landscape, and his absence will be deeply felt by all who had the privilege of crossing paths with the great advertising superman.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    No comments found.