We Give Our Clients End-to-End Service Bouquet – Media Perspectives boss

Mr. Jude Odia is the Chief Operating Officer, of Media Perspectives, a leading media advertising agency in Nigeria and a member of the Starcom MediaVest Group, the largest media advertising network in the world. With a wealth of experience in communications planning and brand strategy, Odia has created noteworthy campaigns at companies such as MTN, NB Plc, Finbank, Unilever, Procter and Gamble and South African Airways, amongst others. In this interview with AMOS OLADELE and ANIETIE UDOH, he speaks about his new assignment and his agency as creative force behind many local and multinational brands as well as the industry in which his company operates.

How challenging do you see your assignment as the Chief Operating Officer of Media Perspectives?

First and foremost it’s a big transition for me as my primary function and focus all the while had been on strategy and operational excellence across the agency. But the transition is now moving from operation and strategy to business and numbers. Hence, one will be talking about things like billing, business development, profitability, business margins, talent development, motivation; it’s like managing the entire business, unlike focusing on just one aspect of the business which was operations. It’s a transition for me. Not entirely new, though; the responsibility has been clearly pronounced and expectations are high. I trust that with the kind of corporate leadership we enjoy in the group, and the kind of mentorship, one will be able to navigate the new responsibility as we progress.

Are you saying you are more than prepared for the assignment?

I wouldn’t say that. I always tell people that a lot of variables are involved in success. Success is relative; what I define as success may not be what other stakeholders in the value chain or shareholders see as success. The dynamics for me is to aggregate the different definitions of success as regards the business and ensure that my definition aligns with each and everyone. We have investors and stakeholders in this business. I need to make sure I align my definition of success to be mutually benefiting to these stakeholders. Then, I can say I’ve been prepared to deliver success.

Having been part of Media Perspectives’ success till date; what are those successes that you would say have signposted its evolution?

I think first is the spirit behind the formation of the company; by this I mean the people that originated and conceptualised the company and gave it a soul. The company had a very positive and well organised start-up philosophy; strong business drivers who have business acumen and are well respected industry players. Thus, the foundation was right. The second thing is that the company was future determinant. What I mean is that they saw the end from the beginning. They wanted to play global from the very first day. It was within a few years into existence that the company went into global partnership. What that does for the company is global best practices, tools exchanges that make the skills and competence set of the company future prone. That’s why their workforce today works across the world because they’ve got the exposure by virtue of the interaction they have with their regional and global partnership. The third thing is the definition of who the clientele base should be. They say birds of the same feather flock together. They were careful to select the type of clients they wanted to work with; discerning clients; clients that would challenge you, clients fixated on global best practices. Those sets of clients help to up-scale the competence set of the entire company and the standard has not dropped. Over 70 per cent of our clientele base is actually leaders across their sectors of operations – telco, FMCG, services, insurance, name it. The fourth was that we had to put the client first. A lot of people want to chest-beat with the billings they command. We don’t chest-beat with the billings we command. We chest-beat with how far we have been able to help the clients move the needle in terms of market share and profitability. If you help your client grow his or her business, then growth for you becomes inevitable. We don’t do backward integration, we do forward integration. Billings for me is backward integration because if you keep counting on billings, you never can measure how valuable you are before your clients. Hence, we put the client first. We write case studies based on the final output from the client’s side. We don’t celebrate awards from industries; we celebrate awards which our businesses experience. If they say one of our businesses has gained 12 per cent market share in 12 months because of the campaigns we were part of, those are the things we celebrate internally.

Can you, please, define Media Perspectives as an agency within the advertising landscape?

Media Perspectives is a media advertising agency. And what it means is that our core area of competence is actually marketing. And because we play within the media space, we home it to how media will help you achieve your objectives within the entire gamut. What we tell people is that we give you an end-to-end service bouquet. We do market intelligence, market research and we do a lot intelligence reporting competitive services. The next level we are going to is transforming those bundles of intelligence into consulting services. The other component is strategy. We could bespeak our strategy to become a solo offering that we can use to service a particular client. We can just do strategy for you, so you pay us for strategy; you don’t pay us for planning or buying. But because you understand the power in the synergy, you prefer to do end-to-end. The next is the planning. It is what the regular agencies do; GRP, frequency and all of that. Buying is like I will give you 20 per cent I will buy it at N15,000 and all of that. We believe that those are end services along the entire service offering. If you come to us and you want service, we will tell you to appreciate the entire process so that you see buying not from a commodity point of view, but a scientific and strategic point of view. So, if we are going to do a strategy buying, we extrapolate for you what the buying possibilities will be in the next five years. We are not doing a tactical short time buying. Buying is just a component of our value set, which is at the tail end of it, and which today we believe does not offer any agency a competitive advantage. Everybody can buy cheapest. It now depends on how that helps the client deliver on objectives.

What percentage of your clientele goes for the whole offerings, which goes for the first, second or third?

Amazingly, all of them go for the end-to-end. The reason is because conventionally, our job has always been seen as end-to-end. We are planning and buying. However, what we are trying to do is to deepen the specialisation that comes from these different component of services. What I’m saying is that buying as it is done today is still done at a surface level. Buying has a scientific approach. It has a much deeper dimension that we are not practising today in this market. And if we can clearly get our clients to see that scope and depth they can get from buying, then they could start thinking of how to opt for specialised services in buying. We are trying to bring the value tangible to the client, so they can see the potential and begin to re-engage agencies with this renewed intelligence. If you come to me and say you want to do media planning and buying, fine. It is also important to know that there is logic behind planning and buying which is where intelligence, and strategy will come in. A lot of planning and buying, done today are not optimally done because intelligence and strategy are not strong enough.

We have some discerning clients and most of them happen to be our existing clients. And that is why we are at an advantage because it’s working with them over the years that has challenged us to grow way above the level of service that most media agencies offer today. And our strategic intent is to begin to sell this depth of knowledge to non-existing clients of the agency for them to see that they could get better value from us.

Will that not jeopardise their existing relationship with other agencies?

This market is a very competitive market. Clients keep looking for better deals. Every day, agencies are wooing clients. We keep looking for business development, but ours is coming from a point of value, showing how better it could be done. It’s all about the value of currency you bring to the market.

Is there creativity in media advertising?

I think it’s central to the entire meat we offer as a competitive advantage. There are various schools of perspectives to the media but there are two broad schools. The first is data analytic. Some people focus on media analysis and efficiency. Tell me the best programmes, the best GRP to deliver for my brand and all those metrics. The other school is saying it’s about ideas, about intelligence and insight. And you have people that are proponents of these schools. A particular agency could specialise in media planning, the other guy may say idea runs my approach to media. But ours is a hybrid in the sense that it combines the two schools in a perfect blend. The most interesting thing is that it has specialised tools that best optimise this approach. From market intelligence, to planning, to buying; there are tools for these components. If it’s data, we do it to the very best. If it’s ideas, we do it to the very best. A lot of people talk about above-the-line, below-the-line and through-the-line. Through-the-line is close to hybrid which gives a perfect bend.

Where do you get the tools from and are they accessible to other agencies?

There are different types of tools. We have industry tools that are generic and accessible to all agencies. Then, we have proprietary tools. Our proprietary tools are our competitive advantage. That’s what we use to make the difference. For example, in this market we have diary terms; like programmes for radio, media styles and all of that. Any media agency will have that and we don’t consider them as a big deal these days. Some of our proprietary tools are MP developed, some of them are from our network, Starcoms Global. We keep them to our chest and bring them out only when there’s a war; when we have to service a client or we have a pitch.

How do you cope with competition?

We don’t cope with competition. We set the pace. When you are bothered about what bothers your client, that automatically elevates you from pedestrian industry competitive space. We don’t set our goals on fighting other Media Independents, we set our goals based on ensuring that we deliver business objectives for our clients. That gives us competitive edge over others.

How do you assess the media advertising industry and what are the challenges?

I will first of all say thank you to the pioneers. A lot of efforts had gone into making the industry a formidable force in the marketplace. For me, it’s mixed feelings. We have some positives like a lot of local agencies are seeing the need for global partnership because the world is no longer a village; it is now like a sitting room. There’s need for cross pollination across the world. The other positive thing for us is that recognition of what we bring to the tale is coming more from the client’s side. The clients, more than ever before, now recognise the specialist service that we bring to their business. That is why in spite of recession, we are still keeping up with marketing media agencies, not really cutting budget, service fees or commissions. It’s a testament that they appreciate the value. It may surprise you to know that in this 2017, some of our clients have reviewed our service fee upward. We also have talents that have distinguished themselves across different agencies.

For me, I will say there are challenges on the depth of data. Thanks to research companies for the effort they put in, but the depth is still not there. Each time I go out of the shores of this country, I feel not so happy when I see what is happening even in our sister countries, here in Africa, like Kenya and South Africa. They’ve gone far. Our total media spend annually can’t equate to Kenya’s. I think we need to work hard in this area. I also think there’s a talent dearth in the industry. I could attribute that to no conscious attempt made by either the sectoral bodies or even the agencies to take training seriously. A lot of our people still work today with knowledge that can’t compete globally. Then, there are transparency and integrity issues. Some clients are still worried about you prying into how they manage their money and stuffs like that.

Do you still think global affiliation is profitable to practitioners in this country?

From my own space, I think there is no alternative to it. If you really want to be a formidable player in a post digital era, you have to consider it as critical. If you see yourself as a local player, it could be a strategy for today, but definitely it is not a sustainable strategy because as the world becomes smaller, it is either you have 10 per cent of a multinational company, or you have 100 per cent of a briefcase company.

We want you to be more elaborate on what global partnership is delivering to Media Perspectives?

It is multi-dimensional and I like to take it from the peoples’ point of view. What value does it bring for our people in terms of capacity development, exposure and competence? Since we started, it has been huge. Our people here have done a lot of acculturisation, training and exchanges. Travels, e-learning, and tools have been exchanged and we’ve started operating them locally. More importantly, our clients have seen clearly the benefits which the partnership brings, especially to their business because we are clear on saying that the partnership is not necessarily about the agency, it’s more about the value it brings to our clients and other stakeholders. The intent is to raise the bar and possibly make the pile of benefit higher and greater for everyone.

Can you be different (from others) by letting us know the billings of your company?

There’s what we call information management. On a professional level, yes we can discuss our billings; but maybe not in a public forum or for public knowledge. But I can say categorically that our billing is doing very great. It’s been increasing year on year. And we are grateful to the clients who have believed in our ability to manage their businesses. And to other stakeholders like the media that help us achieve operational excellence. It has been from one glory to another.

At the moment, who are your clients?

MTN, CocaCola, Samsung, Leadway, Visa, EJ Galo, ARM Pensions, Heritage Bank, Berger Paints, and some others.

Who would you say is the COO of Media Perspectives?

Jude is a very introverted person and that’s one of the things I have to manage now because let alone, the real Jude wouldn’t have granted this interview. But at the same time Jude is passionate about the industry, especially because of the opportunity I’ve had to have good trainings. The way I was groomed, I have been so lucky in terms of career path to work with some of the best agencies and respected professionals in the country. It has really helped build my career and passion for excellence. I have a feeling that we have the potential to conquer the world if we organise ourselves. The tests I’ve done outside Nigeria give me the confidence that given the right environment and necessary support, we have the potential to conquer the world. In my own little space and the little resources I have, I want to see the best achieved. Thank God, I have some of the best colleagues anyone can pray for. Then to a large extent, I love winning. Just that now, I’ve started learning how to manage circumstances when they don’t appear the way you plan it. I am happily married with kids. I have enjoyed mentorship from the bosses I have worked with, I also have young executives I mentor and some of them are working with some of the very good agencies. I mentor only media people because of my background. I’ve worked in a bank, in their brand management function. Hence, I mentor people in PR, media and those on their own.



Leave a Reply

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


    No comments found.