Live + Digital Is The Next Wave- Wole Olagundoye Managing Director Exp
It seems that within a short period EXMAN is taking shape?
We can’t be in this experiential marketing space and not help the industry organize itself .This is because it was becoming so convoluted with all sorts of people, non professionals, just anybody. Once you feel you can put one or two events together , you feel you are in experiential marketing. So the onus is on us to organize ourselves.
The truth is that if we don’t have an association that can ring-fence and protect the interest of the professionals in the sector, we will gradually be overtaken by charlatans and eventually our existence as an industry would be threaten to the point of extinction.
As providence would have it, we were able to organise ourselves and the result is what you have today, EXMAN. As the chairman of the membership committee I could say EXMAN has come to stay. We need to begin to educate the marketing industry in Nigeria that for its survival, there is a need to ensure that experiential marketing keeps thriving and is as potent as can be. This is in tandem with the trend globally, and if the sector is not adequately and appropriately remunerated, then the creativity of that sector will eventually be stifled off, simply because this business is about human beings, it’s not about equipment, it’s about human beings, it’s about thinking and crafting ideas; and if you are not incentivizing the people and giving them a conducive environment to think, then in no time the industry will die off. We need to be allowed to have that ability to be able to think well and consequently develop effective ideas for the benefits of marketing in Nigeria.
Every industry needs good hands, is it different with the experiential marketing sphere?
Yes, like I have said remuneration matters a lot and that’s what retaining good hands is all about. Because you find out that the minute someone starts to show some promise in the experiential marketing space and you start to climb, the next thing is there is attraction to the client side. You see a lot of movement of staff that would have made a huge impact to the experiential marketing industry going to the client side.
The reasons are not far-fetched, we are not able to remunerate at the same level as the client is remunerating. That is the reason, and as long as you keep having talents move like that then you won’t be able to retain good hands because just when you think you are grooming and nurturing a good talent, they move on.
Although for us, we’ve been able to at least retain some of our key staff but the fact still remains it’s an ongoing battle that we have contend with. We have to train people from the scratch as we don’t have any educational institution that administers experiential marketing knowledge, that is something one would have to learn within the agency environment. Exp, for instance, has contributed tremendously to resourcing the industry as it were, because a lot of people that have left our organization and have gone to form their own agencies and are now in competition with us.
Any plan for an EXMAN School?
We have that plan, as EXMAN is currently constituted; there are three working committees, the membership committee, the advocacy committee and the training committee. The training committee has carried out a series of training.
They did some of that last year, where they trained EXMAN member agency staff and it is also opened to the entire marketing industry as well. It’s going to be an ongoing training that will be happening with some regularity. This could evolve into a whole formal training institute; I think that’s the grand plan and it will take shape as we go into the future.
What’s the influence of the New Media on your industry?
The New Media could be complementary to experiential marketing. But by itself as a potent tool it is strong, because creating experiences is what breaks through the clutter in our overcrowded marketing landscape. There is so much to consume, people are immersed in their worlds. There should be an experience created to bring the brands to life in a manner that resonates with the consumer and allows for brand affinity and that is what brands aim to achieve these days.
That’s why for us we believe that experiential marketing is very strong, and the only way brands can win is to make sure experiential is one of its marketing mix so that it can deliver its potential and achieve brand objectives. So new media is helping to complement experiential because you can now direct focus to the new media via the platform of an experiential campaign basically.
Do you think companies have adequate budget plan for experiential marketing?
I think we see a slide towards experiential marketing spend these days and that we have seen in the last five years where spend has moved gradually to experiential marketing sector from advertising. It’s the reason why you find some advertising organisations having a second line interest in experiential, simply because the spend is moving towards that experiential.
Now some companies are actually diverting funds to support experiential marketing they are now seeing the effectiveness and the impact on their brands. For instance, if you take the Tobacco industry, their only means to engage is strictly experiential. So therefore their total 100% marketing budget is directed to experiential marketing activities. The trend is now on, we can see the spend moving toward experiential.
Could you share some of your big moments or campaigns in the last five years?
In the last five years, I think one of the biggest thing that we’ve done, was the campaign that we did for Unilever, which we call GrowFM. It entailed a couple of brands and the whole campaign was driven under the umbrella of behavioral change.
The uniqueness here was the innovative strategy of pushing commercial brands, which would have naturally been done using a commercial marketing platform, on a social marketing platform, thereby connecting with the target emotionally and creating a long lasting impact that would subsequently drive uptake of the brands. We reached over a million children with this campaign in the course one one year.
What can you tell me about yourself, have you changed in the last 10 years?
In last 10 years, I’ve grown a lot. I became MD in that time, so obviously something has happened there. I have a complete shift in focus now as I see things from a different angle. Now it’s about building the business, building the Exp brand and ensuring that the brand sustains.
Being on top and remaining there is a very difficult task, every day you are looking to do things differently because you know competition is always there and want to catch up. We need to keep on building revenues in order to be able to keep ahead of the pack. So for me, that’s the main transformation that has happened in the last decade. Helping with the creation of EXMAN, our industry association, is also a significant part who we have become as we were able to engage, internally and externally, in a more organised fashion now.
Where do you think EXP will be in the next five years?
We will still be here in the next five years doing our stuff, but on a more serious note, I think there are a lot of things that we are beginning to look at differently in EXP. And we believe in moving with the global trend. The world now is going digital, Live + Digital is the big thing for us. So in the next five years we are going to be pushing the frontier in the Live +Digital space.