We Won’t Stop Until We Are Number One-Steve Babaeko

Despite emerging one of the outstanding agencies at Saturday’s LAIF Awards, the CEO of X3M Ideas, Steve Babaeko has said he is not celebrating. The Ikeja based agency carted home eight awards, including three gold, two silver and three bronze medals to emerge third on the medals table ahead of other more established agencies.

Babaeko who left 141 Worldwide in 2012 as Creative Director to set up X3M Ideas told MARKETING EDGE after the awards that the vision of his agency is to become the top player in the business and until that happens; the agency will not rest on its oars.

“We set up this agency to be number one and until we become number one, don’t congratulate me,” Babaeko said.

The three gold medals were won in three categories- Ads that never ran (Virgin Atlantic Radio), Corporate Image (Diamond Bank Doors) and Best use of Original Photography (Lagos Photo). It won silver for Diamond Bank Doors commercials and Easy Clip Cypher Radio creative. And the bronze medals were for the Etisalat Prize for Literature (Short Film), Jollification Dog – Ads that never ran and Western Union Radio Just so you know – Ads that never ran.

But despite falling short of his expectations, Babaeko in his usual swaggering manner commended his team for how far his agency has come in a short space of three years and how it has been able to compete favourably against the big agencies. “We are still the most creative agency in this country, whether they give us the grand prix or not it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“I never look at other agencies because as far as we are concerned there is only one agency in Nigeria and that is X3M Ideas. We are running a race against ourselves. We care about the quality of work we generate here and the value we give to our clients.”
Babaeko who remarked that the average age of his agency staff is between 23 and 24 noted that the industry belongs to the young people and that is why his recruitment policy is deliberately designed to harvest only people within that age bracket.

He also commented that the performances of the younger agencies at this year’s LAIF Award are a proof that a generational changed has become a reality in the industry and the tight grip of the older agencies on the industry is losing gradually. “The competition is tight; the only agency that got the grand prix this year is Noah’s Ark. It means that the next generation of advertising agencies is coming, so the old guys are quaking in their boots and that is how it should be. The whole ideas of old agencies dominating the award is over, this year we broke the jinx,” Babaeko remarked with a sense of happiness.

Speaking further, Babaeko commended the clients for taking the bold step of believing in the younger agencies and trusting them to drive their brand equity to new heights. “Young agencies are throwing their hats in the ring and challenging the old agencies, clients are becoming savvier, not going for big names but big ideas. It’s an interesting time to be an ad practitioner in Nigeria and I am privileged to be part of it.”

X3M Ideas which was set up about three years ago has demonstrated its creative vigor by consistently coming third in the last three editions of LAIF Award. But Babaeko is confident his agency will soon be rubbing shoulder with some of the biggest agencies on the global stage because according to him, they are his benchmark for success.


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