12 October 2017

Nigeria: Leo Burnett Lagos Makes History

Following the appearance of a television commercial conceptualised by Leo Burnett Lagos for Heritage Bank in the latest edition of Lurzers Archive, Raheem Akingbolu writes on the significance of the feat for the nation's creative industry

Since 1984 when Lürzer's Archive was established by Walter Lürzer, as a wholly advertising industry magazine which features advertising campaigns for print and television (TV) from around the world, appearance in the publication has always been a coveted feat.

To some agencies, having their creative works published in the magazine is as good as winning the biggest creative award globally. This is so because most times, works that are reviewed in Archive Advertising Worldwide often attract global awards, including the popular Cannes Lion Festival. Perhaps this informs the opening statement of the Editor-in-Chief of the bi-monthly magazine, Michael Weinzeth, in the Lurzer Int'l Vol 04 - 0217.

The editor said: "By the time you read these lines, summer may have erased your memories of the Cannes Lion Festival -Unless; of course you were able to garner a coveted Lion while there, or happen to work for Publicis Group Agency."

The old trend and the trailblazer

Though the magazine is meant to serve the interest of the global advertising community and their patrons, creative works from advanced nations always top the list with few mentions of works from African agencies. For instance, in the latest issue, there are a total of 106 print and postal campaigns, the three countries contributing the most being the United States (US) (16) Brazil (12) and Germany (11). There are 60 films campaign (TV & online) in all; the US romping home with 16, followed by the UK (6) and France (5). At the other end of the spectrum are single films apiece from Jordan, Nigeria, Peru, Puer to Rico and South Africa.

In this same edition, a Nigerian agency -.Leo Burnett Lagos, succeeded in giving Heritage Bank brand a voice that extends for all of black Africa. This is what the bank's #IAMPROUDOFMYHERITAGE campaign came to be as the TVC appears in the latest edition of Lurzers Archive, the venerated bible of the advertising industry. This has been described as important feat by observers because the issue also profiles the big winners of Cannes 2017.

Therefore, while flipping through global ads that represented the best the world had to offer, flip to page 139 and there it is: an ad from Nigeria, based on African pride, and coincidentally making the continent proud. The agency and the TVC appear in the Banking and Insurance section. Other outstanding works in this edition are; Toyota 'Grandpa' in the automotive section, produced by Badillo Nazca Saatch & Saatchi from San Juan, Puerto Rico and Strongbow 'A nature Dream' in the Beverage and Alcoholic section, by Cloud Factory, Amsterdam. There is also Bacardi 'Breakfree' by BBDO, New York, which appears also in the Beverage and Alcoholic section.

Few years ago, DDB Lagos also had a mention in the magazine when one of its creative works was named 'Luerzer's Archive Print Ad of the Week.' The "Speechless" ad, which made the history, was said to have been done for one of DDB's numerous clients, Girl Hub, a non-governmental organisation.

Synopsis

When in 2016, Leo Burnett Lagos, a young vibrant agency known for creating the #foundonkonga and #Yakata campaign, beat some agencies to win the converted Heritage Bank corporate brand account, observers expected the agency to create something truly memorable. Looking back and considering the feat achieved by its work on the Fidelity brand, one can rightly say the agency has not disappointed its patrons.

#IAMPROUDOFMYHERITAGE, an epic campaign built around the thinking that a people's heritage is something of pride handed down to inspire generations born and unborn, challenged the image of Africa constantly portrayed to the world. Beyond this, it is also an image that revolves heavily around slavery, bad governance and corrupt dictatorships. It also combines the many negative stereotypes created about the "dark continent". This often propagated image of our heritage simply chose to ignore an era when African Kings and Queens stood as pillars of innovation and industry. It ignored such kings and queens as Amina, who built cities and forged new rules.

But, why would Leo burnett, an agency barely a year old take on such a daunting task? The answer can be found in its Humankind philosophy. A philosophy built around the thinking that creativity had the power to transform human behavior... for good. This meant that in whatever Leo Burnett would do, it was bound to apply an approach totally different from that of any agency present or before it.

The result was a well crafted ode to the era of greatness that was and is to come for black Africa. A well shot, paced, and scored visually cinematic story that captures the essence of what it means to be African; what it means to have African pride, flowing through your blood streams. The origin of that pride, ancestral and regal. Your heart beats to the rhythm, and then skips when in the first few seconds a nomadic caucasian king bows to an African king. The images are quite telling while conveying the brand strategy: Heritage bank, although a new bank, was here to stay. The association to our heritage was not lost on anyone.

While it is debatable if the era of African kings and queens has indeed begun, one thing is certain, the era of Leo Burnett Lagos may have commenced.

Agency profile

On June 16, 2017, a special publication in THISDAY had featured Leo Burnnet Lagos, as one of Nigerian top agencies that have changed the game of marketing communications. According to the authors of the publication, the young agency is believed to have begun to speak the complete language of the 21st century agency. At a time stakeholders in the marketing communication industry thought the business environment was too tough for anybody to venture into, Leo Burnet Lagos was established two years ago, with the promise to change the marketing communications landscape.

However, within short time of operation in the highly competitive advertising business in the country, Leo Burnett Lagos has proven to become an iconic creative brand, with the array of local and international awards and accolades it has carted in the industry.

On the list of her landmarks in the industry is the first international award which Leo Burnett Lagos won at the just-concluded African Cristal awards in Morocco. Leo Burnett Lagos won 2 Awards in the Radio category.

Also at the 2016 LAIF awards, the Sam Osunsoko-led marketing communication agency was a glaring star of the night when it won three Gold, five Silver and five Bronze medals, hitting age old agencies in the competitive industry.

Beyond the conventional creativity, Leo Burnett Lagos is an agency that prides itself as a solution provider to brands challenges in the marketplace by looking into their business problems and strategic way of solving them.

Leo Burnett Lagos prides itself as an external student of Human Behaviour, which gives an unparalleled ability to better understand people and what drives them.

The 360 degree marketing communication agency has made huge and impactful contributions to brands such as Konga, Heritage Bank, Nestle, Crusader Sterling Pensions, Pfizer and Philip Morris.

Considering the group of multi-disciplinary and multi-skilled talents that are available at Leo Burnett Lagos, the agency is poised to deliver excellent innovation in the industry in the year 2017 and ahead.

Leo Burnett Lagos, which is an affiliate of Leo Burnett Inc., is not resting on its oars and is poised to become a market leader a market leader in the business of advertising Africa.

In a recent interview with THISDAY, the Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Sam Osunsoko, described the two years operation of the agency as a watershed. He spoke about the factors that have helped the agency's growth and how it clinched 13 medals at the 2016 edition of the Lagos Advertising & Ideas Festival (LAIF) held in Lagos.

"From inception, we have been very clear in our minds as to how we'd defy the odds of the industry - maintain an obsessive focus on our clients' brands with a strong intent to growing them. It is for this reason that our objectives of business and creative leadership in this country seems to be taking shorter time for us to achieve than we initially projected. To give an example, the Heritage Bank's Kings and Queens campaigns we developed was deeply insights-driven. It celebrates the enterprise spirit of Nigerians and Africans at large. This has further reinforced perception of Heritage Bank as one with a very strong SME focus. In terms of how almost every major campaign we developed has not only step-changed the brands we developed them for but has also won one creative award or the other, you could be forgiven if you likened Leo Burnett Lagos to the artiste that spoke about all his songs being hits back-to-back," he said.

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