Idea House, a creative agency based in Lagos, has introduced a new approach to partnering with clients to deliver on marketing targets in a creative manner. In a recent encounter with Raheem Akingbolu, the chief executive officer of the firm, Mr. Hehinde Salami spoke on this novel approach
One major issue that has remained topical in the marketing communication industry revolves around the relationship that should exist between agencies and their clients in working out strategies for brands positioning.
In some quarters, it is believed that clients should dictate the tone and the trend of planning and implementation of briefs because of their knowledge of their respective brands. A contrary view is that both clients and agencies are required to work out the strategies. To those who hold to the latter opinion, it is believed that in most cases, clients only see the good sides of their brands while the agencies would have in depth understanding of competing brands as well as a mastery of the market.
For the chief executive officer of Idea House, Mr. Kehinde Salami, both the agency and the client have roles to play in strategy development and implementation of briefs because of their different backgrounds and perspectives. While he does not see anything wrong with accepting a brief from a client, he argued that clients should not be adamant whenever the need arises to take advice from their consultants. He also advocated for the need for agency owners to always develop on their strengths to be able to think ahead of their clients so as to interpret briefs beyond the expectation of clients. Above all, Salami also does not see anything wrong with an agency suggesting preemptory ideas that could work for its client.
The survival instinct, which is believed to have actually stunted creativity in the nation's marketing communication terrain, also worries this practitioner. According to him, "Most firms are involved in the rat race of survival to the detriment of creatively and helping their clients to meet and exceed marketing targets. The future of marketing communication agencies lies in operating as solution providers. We should be in the forefront of initiating and experimenting with creative ideas that will also deliver the bottom line for our clients."
Making the Distinction
Speaking on what differentiates his agency from other creative firms, Salami described Idea House as revenue growing firm that does not want to be seen as supplier of services in the mould of other marketing agencies.
According to him, "We partner with clients to deliver on marketing targets in a creative manner. We truly partner with them and that's why our thinking, processes and orientation are very different. We don't wait or expect change, we initiate it. We are not a brief-dependent agency. By this, I mean we don't sit down and wait for clients to call us and brief us on what they expect us to do. As an agency, we pride ourselves as an ideas factory. We incubate ideas and execute for the benefit of our clients,"
He explained that this has been made possible by the company's mode of operation. For instance, a curious mind would want to know why he insists that his firm is not brief-dependent. "What we do is simple. We take a look at the business of a prospective client and do a comprehensive review of its marketing operations. This could take us so many months to do but we are not bothered. After gaining detailed insights about the brand, with our deep understanding of the marketing communications, we will then come up with the relevant solutions.
Most of the time, the marketing teams of these brands are always surprised at the amount of insight we provide them on the brands at our disposal."
Speaking further, he disclosed that the approach has remained his company's cutting edge. To achieve this, he pointed out that his team spends a lot of time and energy in research because of the belief that a knowledge-driven agency is a winning agency.
To prove that the approach has been effective, Salami was quick to mention how his agency brought drama into Mouka Foam's activation, how Idea House handled the satchet launch of Lipton in the north, how for two years running, it has been handling the Christmas party for the children of First City Monument Bank's high networth customers. Other brands that have derived value from their service include Blue Band margarine and the Nigerian Bottling Company (now Coca Cola).
Providing more insight into the modus-operandi of his company, he cited the marketing strategy for the recent sales activation for Mouka Foam in the northern part of the country. "We displayed a lot of creativity around the activation. We got a boxing ring at designated Mouka Foam distributors and got two persons doing shadow boxing. While the boxers were busy with their boxing, the referee was sleeping nearby on a Mouka mattress with the inscription beside him, 'Body No be Wood'. The comic scene grabbed people's attention and actually got them buying the mattress,"
The Idea House boss, whose experience in the industry has spanned 19 years, worked last at Tequila, Nigeria, where he rose to the position of MD designate. Speaking on the challenges of his new approach, he admitted that not every marketing team would like to be told that something is deficient in their strategy or that their agency has a better way of getting marketing results for them.
"Agreed, this is a challenge we are contending with but let me quickly add that there are some discerning clients who are always willing and open to other creative ideas. But timing is actually the major issue. Some will accept your proposal as brilliant but will argue that the marketing budget for the quarter or the year has been planned and approved," he said.
Despite the challenge, he said he was delighted that his company is contributing its bit to the development of the industry. "Our creative ideas are impacting the bottom line of our clients. But much more, we are delighted that we are providing employment for the youths of this country. Apart from the staff at our office here, we usually have between 150 and 200 contract staff on the field almost all time. To us, that's the way to measure impact and we are happy that we are doing that."