Why we set up the online advertising school – O2 Academy boss

Ozoemena Mbanefo is the founder of O2 Academy, Nigeria’s premier advertising school. Having successfully run an academy, which has become a resource pool for talents by many agencies in the IMC industry, for fourteen years, the leading advertising school is set to break new grounds with the launch of an online advertising school. In this interview with Kasim Bakare, Ozone, as he is fondly called, explains his motivation for the new initiative, the operational structure of the school and other sundry matters. Excerpts:

Congratulations on your latest initiative- the O2 Academy Online School

Thank you very much.

O2 academy is reputed for several novel initiatives like Nigeria’s first Advertising School, the first 3D Zebra Crossing in Nigeria, Nigeria’s first Advertising School to win Loeries. What motivated you to start an online advertising school?

We are very big in making impact and restoration of hope through capacity building. We have successfully done that for the past fourteen years on the physical platform which is the O2 Academy Lagos academic complex. We have always had this thing for an online advertising school but little did we know that it was going to come so sooner than we expected because Covid-19 came and we felt it’s the perfect opportunity to go online with our training. So in a nut shell Covid-19 was actually what pushed us a little bit faster to set up the online ad school.

So, I would say the motivation was 75% because of the Covid-19 and the other 25% based on the vision that we have always had in mind that we can connect people from different parts of the globe to learn just through the click of a button on their gadgets.

Considering the infrastructural challenge of poor internet connectivity, power supply, in Nigeria, how do you intend to run an online advertising school despite this challenge?

It’s pretty easy. We have put all that into consideration knowing fully well that internet connectivity and power could pose challenges. That’s why we designed the platform with what we call “Video-on-Demand”. whether you have internet at a moment or the internet stops. Whenever you have your internet back, you can continue from where you stopped. It is just like Netflix so you can learn anytime you want to learn and stop anytime you want to stop.

So, we have put all that into consideration and we have made it so flexible such that you could actually plug into a particular course and even do some kind of combination of several courses. So, it’s just whatever you want to watch, you pay and you watch it. We have pre-recorded bespoke training sessions with course work and test questions. After completing a particular course, you are expected to take the test questions and submit. And the faculty will then attend to it and rate the students’ performance.

Is there any form of certification for the online school just like you have for the physical school?

Yes the 02 academy online school has two categories of certification. The OXYGEN BRAND EXPERIENCE CERTIFICATION online is the one you get when you have covered all the courses on line. The other certification which is the TBE regular is the one you get when you complete the entire course modules for the discipline you want to go for and has also attended the one-month compulsory on site internship at the academy and has passed the 02 Academy final.

The full 02 ACADEMY TOTAL BRAND EXPERIENCE CERTIFICATION will be issued to the candidate upon his or her satisfactory performance in the exams.

Are there pre-requisites for prospective students to enroll in the online advertising school?

The pre-requisite is pretty simple. -Your gadgets; Either your mobile phone or your tab, laptop or desktop. Just to add that it runs on Android, IOS, MAC.

We understand you have a faculty for the online school that comprises top professionals in the IMC industry, what role would they play and what stake do they have in the project?

A tree does not make a forest. We know that for us to really attend to the market and equip people with enough knowledge that will take them to where they are going to, we need the best of the best. I call them the elite of the elites.

So, we have the top guns in the Brands & Communication, Marketing & Advertising (IMC) industry. We have a partnership structure in place with the industry Experts who deliver the sessions on our platform. It works like what you have with the Uber platform, where the driver, rider and the Uber brand all have a stake in the business.

Basically, we connect the industry experts to those who need the knowledge. So, everybody is a stakeholder. It’s not just an O2 academy thing. It’s an industry thing. We seek outstanding professionals in the industry.

We do a background check before we approve of you, If we look at your pedigree and see that you measure up to the standard that can transfer knowledge, we also look into the credibility of what you can offer before we bring you on board. Presently, we have the likes of Lanre Adisa, Nnenna Onyewuchi, Feyi Olugbodi, Jude Odia and Dayo Adefila. We are still open to more experts who have got skills that know their onions and have got stuffs to offer. That’s the way we have structured it on partnership basis so that everybody is a stakeholder.

There is this notion in certain quarters that most students do not take online classes as seriously as the physical classes because online classes are less supervised. How do you intend  correcting this notion with the O2 Academy Online advertising school? 

When people say online school is not viable in Nigeria, and all of that, I laugh because we practically spend 65%-70% of our time online on our gadgets. The only thing is that; what interests people determines where they go to. So, it’s just to make it as interesting, informative and very well done, as much as possible. When people see good stuff, they will come to it. Another thing is that when people see good stuff, they will go and tell other people. We know and we are confident that when people check it out and start learning stuff and see value, more people will get to enroll. We are not worried about that. We know definitely it’s going to work. When we were starting the O2 academy, we met a lot of people saying; this is not going to work, why would you be doing it for free and stuffs like that. Today, people are paying money and coming to gain knowledge and getting result. We are launching the online advertising school on June, 2, 2021.

Are the online students going to get the same quality and value of education being experienced in the physical school at O2 Academy?

Yes. As long as you complete the entire courses that we have on the platforms, you are as good as someone who has completed his training in O2 academy especially after you have come for your internship in the physical school. After the online classes, you will still do one month internship in the academy. So, before you get certified, you will still do the physical internship at the academy, thereafter, we will give you the full certificate. That happens on your completion of the entire programme. But if you take one course, say, for instance, Design Thinking by Nnenna Onyewuchi, that’s just a course, you won’t get certified for that. But if you go through the entire process, you ill be certified after your internship


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