We make the brand the Super Star in everything we do – Felix King Eiremiokhae, MD, Oracle Experience

Dr. Felix King Eiremiokhae,is the Founder and Managing Director/CEO of Oracle Experience Limited, a multiple award winning Advertising and Marketing Agency which he incorporated in 2004. The agency has grown to become a multiple award winning Advertising and Marketing Agency providing Events, Marketing, Planning and Sponsorship services to several local and multi-national companies with satellite operations all across Nigeria and an operational branch in Accra, Ghana. As a build-up to the recently held MARKETING EDGE Brands and Advertising Excellence Awards 2018 at which he won the Brand Personality of the Year Award, he granted the magazine’s team of AMOS OLADELE, ANIETIE UDOH, and JOSEPH EKENG an exclusive interview in which he reflects on the very innovative and record breaking works which his agency has done for brands in recent times.


What really inspired you into building the Tiger Wall?

Personally, I like to do the tough things and doing the Tiger Wall was very tough. People were surprisedand wondered how possible it was to create that kind of experience in Nigeria.You know that sometimes when you work and you create this kind of experience; you see even foreigners looking at what you have done with surprise and wondering aloud, oh, is this Nigerian, is this possible? For me, that goes a very long way for you to sit back and humbly say, ‘I think that we have done something that we can really be proud of’.

So it is a 100% Nigerian creation?

Yes, it is a 100% Nigerian creation and it was achieved by working with a lot of artisans; and that also just opened my eyes to a new reality about Nigeria as a country. Nigeria as a country can really be great but unfortunately, governmentsover the years are not doing what they ought to do to make this happen.

If it is abroad, you will see the kind of technology, the kind of equipment which the people have access to and with that, they will be able to do things.  But, here in Nigeria, such access does not exist. This is a real crude way of doing things and that is why we call it Nigerian magic because you do a lot of great things using very crude system because you don’t have the right equipment to work; the technology is just not there. But our technology and know-how is in us and with the Nigerian spirit; it is possible. That spirit that ‘it is possible’, I think, is what really drives us.

Having seen what we are able to put together working with those artisans; you can then imagine that if our technical schools are really working and people are properly trained on all these stuffs, you can imagine what they will be able to do.Believe me, everything that you saw during that Tiger wall were all local!Local people, young guys and some that didn’t even go to secondary school, some that cannot write but they have the skills to just do things.

Your agency has been positioned to build great brands; to build a new world. How do you connect the two? What exactly is Oracle striking it at?

Basically, like I have always said, we all have our imaginations and so every single time you close your eyes, you have dreams, different dreams and you imagine a lot of stuffs but the difference is how do those things which you imagine touch peoples’ emotions. When you are able to bring those things to life then you are changing the dynamics. You are re-writing the history of how things are being done. Today, people are getting bored of the everyday things. If I am doing a programme which is something that people have been doing over and over again, it does not really make any news. It becomes same of same.  But when you try to challenge the present by redefining the way things are and introducing those things that people could only imagine, they would sit back and appreciate that you are making a difference. Essentially, we try to place the brand at the middle of it. It is just like creating that new world order for the brands that we are working on.

What is happening todayin experiential marketing is that most times when people do programmes, they rely so much on entertainment; they bring the artist to come and perform. But I said no; because the moment you try to rely on the artist, you are taking the brand to the back seat because people will be talking about the artist that came to perform without recollecting that there was actually a brand that put all the money into it. We thus said to ourselves that the only way we can change that system is to make the brand itself the super star of everything that we do.

That is why for instance, during the One Lagos Festival, what we did was to put on our thinking cap. We said, ‘okay, people are going to come and talk but we need to do something else; STAR (lager beer), you are spending a lot of money driving this so let us see how we make you the iconic figure at the One Lagos Festival. Who are you, you are somebody who is a Nigerian; you are the first beer in Nigeria; you have the first brewery in Lagos; so you and Lagos, you have so much in common”.

Then, when you look at Lagos, the most iconic thing or one of the most iconic things in Lagos, culturally speaking, is the Eyo. It is a big symbol in Lagos. We then said, how can our brand leverage on this Lagos icon for the One Lagos Festival? We said fine; let us bring Eyo to life in the looks of STAR larger beer! What we then did was to build that massive Eyo statue using STAR lager crakes; it was a massive edifice – about 69 feet tall!

The beauty there is that when you do those kinds of things, you don’t need to talk to anybody to help you advertise, people will naturally talk about it.

In the process of doing it, four TV stations came and they used the story unsolicited. All the newspapers and major TV stations were all there to report it because it was unique and ‘strange’.

At the end of the day; the client is benefitting from two angles; equity becomes so very massive. In fact, that thing was supposed to be for one week, Lagos State had to beg Nigerian Breweries to leave that statue for two months!Don’t forget that normally, we were supposed to pay money for it to be there; but they (Lagos State government) said ‘no, please, we love this keep it for us in this place’.

That is the power of bringing disruptive ideas to life! Because it is not just your everyday normal thing; you beat peoples’ imagination and they say, ‘wow, how possible is it to think about this?’

Also, when we did the Gulder Club Ultimate, we looked at Gulder’s positioning as the drink of the ultimate man. So we said,if the ultimate man wants to celebrate, he is not just going to go out there and start partying everywhere that is not the ultimate style. Now, if you take your mind back to the Titanic (the film)’s love boat, you know big boys when they arrive and they want to really grove, they go on a cruise; but unfortunately here in Nigeria, we don’t have a cruise. But the ultimate man is not just going to be in your normal every day party. So we said, ‘what do we do?’

In answering that question we said, ‘let’s build a cruisewill host 2, 000 people’. Luckily for us, the Nigerian Breweries’Marketing Director, despite his initial scepticismsaid, ‘ok, this sounds very exciting, let us see it’.

So, we built a cruise that took 2,000 people and we name it Club Ultimate. It was a place for the unusual party. And there was something very spiritual about Club Ultimate, every single time that the Club Ultimate berthed; there was always massive rain fall. Yes; we took it to Port Harcourt, there was rain, we came to Lagos, there was serious rain; we went to Enugu, there was serious rain. How it happened, I really don’t know and I still keep asking that till tomorrow. It is like each time we berthed the heaven just opened to say ‘oh, I bless this effort’.By the way, people are still asking for Gulder Club Ultimate till tomorrow!

We always like to do such really amazing things. I remember that two years ago, we wanted to do something at Christmas time when they were doing Lagos Countdown and our brand, STAR, of course, participates in it. At our brainstorming sessions, we decided to do something that reflected the season.We identified that during the time of Governor Fashola, what he was doing was a lot of Christmas decorations; so we said to ourselves ‘why don’t we build what is called the biggest Christmas tree using beer bottles?’ We went on the internet and checked for the biggest tree bottle that had ever been done globally. It was made up of 1,000 bottles. We decided to do 8,000 bottles and we built a Christmas tree made up of 8,000 bottles of STAR; and to show you how powerful that activation was CCTV, the Chinese network, carried it unsolicited! They reported it as one of their news items for two days and the client was wowed because they paid zero kobo to get that coverage.

We enjoy using the brand’s properties to create experience for the consumers. It pays more for me to use the brand’s properties to create an experience for the client than trying to use items that have no business with the brand because the brand must always be the star.

There was a time Nigerian Breweries came to us with a brief to do a tunnel. So I said to myself, ‘how do I make the brand become so special and people can look at your tunnel and say, ‘wow, what Gulder has done is great?’Then I called the Marketing Director and I said, ‘please I need a favour, can I have 3,700 crakes of Gulder?’ He was perplexed that instead of discussing the details of his brief, I was requesting for empty crates of Gulder. Then I said, ‘don’t pay me, I don’t want to be paid for this job’. This is because sometimes when you want to do some certain disruptive things and people feel that it is not possible and yet you have that strong belief in what you want to do, you damn the consequences just to prove your point.

Then they gave us the 3,700 crakes and with them we built this crazy tunnel using the Gulder crakes. When people came and they saw it for the first time they couldn’t believe that you could achieve such spectacle with the normal crakes that they throw out everywhere. It was really amazing.

These are some of the reasons I keep telling my clients, ‘if you want to do the extra-ordinary thing just come to us and we will take up the challenge.

How will you benchmark yourself in the ecosystem of experiential agencies in Africa?

I try to talk about myself more from the Nigerian perspective. I have a competitor which is another agency who tries to play on the platform of Africa but I see myself as a player in the Nigerian market. As far as the Nigerian market is concerned, I see myself as the largest player.

You may ask me why we are the largest experiential agency in Nigeria. It is simple. We have eight reasons for this claim.

One, we are the only agency in Nigeria that have footprints across the entire country. There is no other agency that can boast of that. While some people are boasting of trying to set up offices in African regions; we consolidate our effort here in Nigeria making sure that our footprints are all over. Not just footprints, these are operational footprints.

Two, we are the only agency that can boastfully tell you that we have over 1,000 trained personnel spread across Nigeria who can take on any kind of activation within 48 hours notice. There is no other agency that has that capacity.

Three, we have the right capital to take on any size of operation.

Four, we are the only agency who can tell you that it has over a decade of sustained business relationship with over three multinational clients. In Nigeria, for you to survive one year with a client is very difficult, so when you are working with a client for 12 years and in these years you have witnessed the transition of different marketing directors, brand managers, managing directors, and so on, it can only mean that you are doing the right things.

Can you list some of the clients?

Yes, I can do that for you; for instance our relationship with Procter and Gamble is 12 years running. Nestle is 12 years running, Nigerian Breweries is 10 years running, and so on and so forth.

In Nigeria today, there is no agency that can boast of even these four credentials that I have already given to you.

Again, we are the only agency which can turnaround activation within 24 hours. Why is that possible? It is because we own our party management in terms of logistics. We have our press because a lot of our work has to do deal with a lot of visibility, so there is the need to do a lot of banner printing. What we did just to make our work much easier for us was to set up a press.

This is a place where we do every single thing, so we manage everything in-house. Our banner printing, we own our equipment and every other thing.

When you put all these things together, what else do you need to be the largest?

Is transportation part of this?

Basically, we have more than 100 Hummer buses that are roving the country every single day working, so we work 24/7 every single day nonstop.

You know that in life, what you desire from God is what God gives to you. When we started this business 12 years ago, I told God that I don’t want to work for any local company and for 12 years, we have never done any job for any local company.

Today, we can boast of 7 multinational companies on our platform which we are doing business with on daily bases and for every company that we have worked with we play the major role in those companies.

When I say that we are the largest experiential agency, these are some of the facts that make us the largest.

What is Oracle worth?

As a business, we are big. As at 2016, we were already doing a turnover of about N4billion and it is going up.

You said that you have expanded into B2E. Can you explain that?

It is about the experience. Life itself is experience. The world itself was created out of experience. God himself knows the importance of experience; that is why every single thing that God did was experiential.

There was a time that an agency came out and said that they started experiential marketing. I sat down and I was laughing. How can you say that you started experiential, you have no clue of what you are talking about because the very first brand experience that ever happened took place in the garden of Eden when the serpent took the apple and gave to Eve. Eve gave that apple to Adam and said, ‘try this apple, it tastes very nice, you will love it’ and Adam was convinced.

That is exactly what we are doing today; when I come and talk to you about Nescafé, Milo, STAR lager beer, I am trying to convince you to say ‘this is very good’ because I want to win your pocket.

Jesus Christ himself understood the importance of creating experience; engaging people. Why do the Gospel of Jesus Christ spread that fast? Because what he did was brining to life the act of engagement; taking people into the act. That is why Jesus took sand and gave it to the guy who was blind and the guy applied it and he said ‘go and wash your face’. The guy washed his face and said, ‘oh, now I can see’. So; nobody could doubt it because there was an experience and the people were there. So that is where the phrase came from ‘Involve me and I will understand’. So, Jesus Christ involved people all through and that is why it was so easy for the Gospel to just spread.

People want to believe what they see and once you are able to touch somebody’s emotion, automatically, you have arrested his pocket and the ultimate goal that brand experience tries to create is to arrest peoples’ pockets. Once you have won somebody’s emotion, the battle is won.

Why would you make a decision not to work for local companies in Nigeria; knowing the fact that you are a Nigerian company?

You see in life, there are some certain things that you even do and you don’t have explanations for them. In life, choices are made and you live by those choices.

However, at the end of the day, you sit down and evaluate the choice that you have made, how far have you been able to go with the choice that you have made. In that in that regard, I will say that we have done very well with the choice that we have made.

We would like to ask, just like Nigerian Breweries’ Marketing Director, ‘what next’?

Honestly, I don’t even know. If you ask me two months ago, ‘what else’, I will also give you the same answer, I don’t even know. But we did the Tiger Wall within that period.

When are you going to start to look at offshore operations?

When you talk about offshore; I will say that at the beginning I had offices in Cameroon and Ghana but I had to close them up. I will be very honest with you; it pays me more to have a full grip of the Nigerian market than trying to spread to other countries. The truth of the matter is that when you go to other countries; you will discover that you are losing your grip here and the margins in those countries are low, the business in those countries is not much; It just like maybe one brand that you are handling here.

To me, people were doing that as a bragging right; that is why we changed our strategy and say ok, you brag with your Africa network, let me brag with my Nigeria network of 200 million people. If I tell you that I have a grip of 200 million people, you are going to take me more seriously than I tell you that ‘oh, I have just small grip here, I have another small grip there’.

Even when you go to Ghana to go and run a business it is not as easy as operating in your environment because you are not from there.

I will give you a typical example, we were running the business in Cameroon and they have a tax law, if your tax, for the purpose of this conversation is say €10,000 for this month and you have paid €9,000 with the balance of €1,000 and that money was supposed to be due on the 31st  but, somehow, you could not make that 31st and the money gets there on the 1st of the following month, do you know what then happens, the €9,000 that you have already paid is wiped off so you will have to pay the whole of the €10,000!

I knew this because I had that experience. I sent money to them in Cameroon and the guy who was supposed to pay the money couldn’t do so on the due date because there was a flight issue. He got there a day late.  We had to pay everything which was €10,000.

Was the prior payment not receipted?

That is their law. Even if you pay 95 percent and you have 5 percent and you did not settle it and it crossed to the next month. They will zero it for you.

Where does experiential marketing industry stand in the whole of the IMC in Nigeria?

Basically, if you check what is going on, you know that Nigeria is not a data driven environment; so sometimes what we do is that; how do you measure things? It is based on what you see and what other people are doing and all that stuff.

If you look at what is going on now, even in all the creative agencies, your Above The Line (ATL) people, everybody is coming to experiential. That shows that people are beginning to see that the direction is going more to the experiential side because the experiential budget of mostcompanies is getting biggerand I think the digital too, they are also having quite a chunk of what is going on because people are beginning to understand the importance of digital marketing.



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