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Nigerians Must Leverage on Cultural Nuances for Global Recognition – GM Insight

Feyi Olubodun is the General Manager/Chief Operating Officer of Insight Communications LTD, a Creative Agency that is driven by consumer insight and generating demands for brands. In this interview with GODWIN ANYEBE, he throws more light on the importance of cultural nuances in the place of Advertisement.


 One of your dream as an agency is to become a global marketing communication company, but over the years, Nigerian brands have earned global recognition through affiliation with foreign firms, can this affiliation trend be reversed?

You have asked a very good question that has always been close to my heart. Let me start by clarifying something, there is a difference between international and being global, when a lot of Nigerians talk about global businesses today, what they really mean is being international. And being international is about geography, it’s about the fact that I am in different countries, it is the same as saying that an individual travel so very well, but he is not an exposed individual.

So having a geographical location means that you are an international or multinational agency, and also making statement that is seeking to win global recognition in terms of creative work that you do. But when we talk about being global, what we are talking about is not necessarily at the international level in terms of geographical location. It’s being a company so that what we do here can be lifted up for the rest of the world to see and to admire.

The key difference between being a global and international company is admiration, there are companies today that are global companies but they are not international, for example, some of the Chinese companies in the world today like the Xiomi mobile phone company that is challenging the likes of apple in the world today is a global company, but it does not have a geographical representation across other parts of the world.

However, by the practice of its business, it is commanding global attention; the world is looking at it as if there is something going on there.  That is what we mean by going global. So when we say we want to take Insight to a global level, we are not saying we want to open offices across Africa, which is being international. What we want for Insight is global recognition in terms of what we do.

Everybody is travelling abroad to see what other ad agencies do, for us at Insight we want people from other parts of the world to come and look at what we do here in Nigeria. That is the only thing that makes us command global attention and aspiration.

Today, the world admires creative work that come from Brazil, for instance, if you go the canes advertising festival award, you will discover a lot of focus on Brazil, Puerto Rico, and some of the South Americans countries. Yet most of the TV copies they show are purely theirs, why is the world admiring them? They world is admiring them because they have been able to make something that is culturally grounded, and they have been able to use their cultural nuances to help global brands to win in their local markets. That is what it means for our clients today, we want to do a kind of creative work for our clients today that is rooted in our cultural nuance and that will help them win in our local markets and will at the same time command global aspiration so that in the next cane advertising festival award, they will start talking about the works that are coming from Nigeria.



What role do you think advertising agencies in Nigeria will play in building local brands?

Advertising can actually play a very big role to promote brands here that have some serious equity, for instance, brands like Alabuku and Aboniki Balm, a very solid brand, at a time I wish I was able to work on that brand. Advertising can play a very big role for brands like that, because it will give the brand a better recognition in the market, not only that, it will also expand business opportunities for those brands because one of primary reason for brand advertising is demand generation.

Advertising exists to create more demand for your brand, and it is more demand for your brand that make your business thrive effectively. So if you pick some of those local brands and you build them, that will first of all create a national demand for them and later there will be an international demand.  And it is the role of advertising to create a platform for brands like that to cross the shore of Nigeria into other markets and projecting the equity in a way that it will be more and more attractive to consumers.



For quite some time now, Insight has always taken the lead in Nigeria Advertising Industry. What is the secret?

There is no other magic from the people, right from inception, we have always chosen the best and we have always treated them like the best, and that is what the magic is like. It is only very few businesses that select and retain the best. It takes having the right kind of environment, having the right kind of processes, having the right king of leadership. Our magic has always being our people, today if we lose all of our tools and still have our people, Insight will continue to thrive.


You said consumer insight is your strength, do you consider the likely negative effect of brands on consumer before packaging it?

We consider a lot because our job is actually as behavioral economist, we try to influence behavior, and we are behavioral scientist. Everything we do will get to make consumer behave in a particular way. Therefore, as what we do benefit our clients; it must also benefit the consumer. For instance, we cannot communicate a product that we know will have an adverse effect on the consumer, because if we do that, it will benefit the clients in a short run while it affect the them in the long term. Also, we  particularly take into cognizance the cultural nuances of our environment, there are certain culture that have value that are acceptable in the Nigerian context, whenever we develop communication, we are still mindful of those nuances  and ensure that we will communicate in a way that will make consumer behave in a way that is not culturally acceptable.

Yes, we are learning from the west, but there are lots of things that are acceptable in the west that are not acceptable here. So we will not say because sometimes we borrow from their ideas to make our brands global we will begin to communicate contents that are not acceptable here. We are sensitive to things like that. For example, we work on some big alcoholic brands, and no matter how we communicate how exciting it is to take alcohol, we will never communicate drunkenness or unruly behavior. This is because, while it is acceptable for an adult to consume alcohol, it is not acceptable for you to behave in an unruly manner. We are not going to do communications that seems to encourage that, hence, we are very sensitive about those things, and we pay close attention to them.



Why is it that African materials are not getting attraction at the Cane advertising festival award?

If you look at the emerging markets that are gaining recognition, one of the things that work for them is global insight.  And I think we have to become more confident of our tradition and culture, the things that make the Nigerian a Nigerian, cannot be find anywhere else. We must sell to the Nigerian in a Nigerian way that is what the world wants to see. The world doesn’t want to see how we can sell to the western world in the Nigerian environment, which is what the Brazilians do; they ensure everything they do is in tandem with their cultural nuances. There are some things that are peculiar with Nigerians, we have a wonderful sense of humor, for instance, we are the happiest people by rating on the planet, we are the most sexually satisfied people in the world, and we don’t talk about things like that in our communications. The only way that we can get global recognition is when we begin to do things in our own way.

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