All Seasons Media, reputed to be the leading media buying enterprise in Nigeria , says their vision is,” to continually refresh and sustain a modern and robust media specialist company, competent in delivering world class media solutions to clients marketing needs,” and Dr Ken Onyeali Ikpe, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer adds that from inception, the company desired to dominate the marketing communication industry in Nigeria. This, they have since clearly achieved; and is presently setting new lofty goals for themselves, he emphasized.
In this refreshing interview with two members of the Editorial Board of Education Townhall Newspapers-Okee Sydney-Obiukwu and Bunmi Oguns; which took a whole week to negotiate, Ikpe also spoke on the need for the country’s leadership to address the needs of the people, so that Nigerians can begin to witness the positive change it had promised during election campaigns in 2015.It is the voice of a master, indeed.
We can safely say you have made your mark,did you hit the ground running or it was something you achieved gradually through hard work and learning the ropes?
Media buying is not a stand-alone discipline, it is one of the instruments that should enhance a brand building process, because when you talk about brands, there are two types of activities that you will bring together to begin the brand building journey. We have the marketing and the communications aspects. Marketing side is important and it is usually accompanied by the products/brand owner. That is why they call it brand management, while we are the communications strategist. For you to put a brand together, you have to midwife it and also conceptualize it.
You cannot conceptualize it, if you don’t know the DNA of the brand. You start from there and build an architecture around it, get a personality around it and then communicate it to the target market depending on the group of people you want to reach.
I understand both areas and when I decided that I was going to a journey of marketing, what was most important for me was the consumer, because at the end of the day, that is the most important result you will get out and how you have used the brand to affect the lives of the consumers matter. Building the brand is important but who do you build it for? You don’t build it in vacuum, it is for the consumer.
I started my career at Shell; the oil and gas sector and I did my youth service there and was retained. From there I went into consultancy and to Insight Communications in 1994 and since then, I have not looked back. When you go to a place like Insight Communications basically what you learn is strategic planning , ideation , account management, media planning and buying, it is an agency of record which houses all competences that delivers the brand building process, as far as above the line is concerned, to some extent below the line.
Media aspect of it started as a second phase of my life. It got to a point in the mid 90s when clients began to ask questions like: In the whole of this process, 80 percent of the resources that we deployed go into buying media, so should it be done part- time? Shouldn’t there be a specialist company so that the media will be measured and understanding of the target market will be done with a level of expertise?
There is planning aspect of it that is very important. That is the strategic planning of the data analysis part of it. Why because, at the end of the day, if you have N100,000,000 for the sake of this conversation , 85 million goes into buying media. So they take it seriously because they demand return on investment, so whatever you are planning and choosing to buy at the end of the day , must not only be clear and coherent in terms of choice and the process of meeting that choice, but it must give return on investment.
So if you tell a client that you want to deliver 20,000 eyeballs for instance, the question will be how will it cost you to deliver them and what is the composition of that 20,000 eyeballs? Are they male or female? What is the percentage and location? 50 percent male or 50 percent female? Let’s assume that they are male, you look at demographics and psychographics. Psychographics, is lifestyle while demographics is more of quantitative. You look at where do they live? Do they travel? What part of town do they have their leisure? The habit of the consumer will give you a touch map with which to begin to get to the consumer and circle of the consumer so that whatever message you are throwing at them will be well targeted.
Most importantly, there must be return on investment, could you have used half of that?If what you are supposed to achieve is X and you come back to your client and say: I can achieve that X using 60 percent of the resources not losing the potency, then you are a good planner.
So, you always knew you would leadthe pack of players in your industry?
When we started the industry, our ambition was not just to lead but to dominate the space, because we were not going to open a space and allow other people to come and milk and enjoy it. So we have vanguard and pioneer setters but don’t forget that what drives that is innovation. You innovate or you die, so at every stage you know when to re-engineer and when to pause. When we started Mediacom in 1998, there was no media independent practice in Nigeria, so we started the practice because we knew where the rest of the world was going.
Between 1998 and 2000, there were major changes because data became king. Between 2000 and 2015, data, planning and research could deliver you potency, but now media planning do not deliver the product, we now move from media planning to communication planning and today the client does not accept media planning as a product . The real client wants you to come to the table with solution. It’s not just that I have done the best media planning in the world, I have done media buying in the world. The client is saying what aspect of the total success in delivering these brands does media planning contribute? So if you don’t understand other aspectsthat are contributory factors into building that brand, the client of today is not going to be happy with you.
Can you draw a clear difference between media planning and communication planning?
Media planning is when you say I want to achieve, for instance a 7 percent market share and you go to an agency and ask what will make you get a 10 percent market share, then you say you have to drive consumer quantity from 10,000 to 12,000 and then that will give you the numbers. You calibrate your gross rating point. The gross rating point will be clear. It means how many times you have to hit the bull’s eyes to get to this level of adverts. Once that is calculated, the gross rating point figure equals to your budget.
It means that for X amount of money, this is what you get. But at some point, diminishing returns will set in, meaning that for every one more advert you had is a waste, because you have reached your maximum. That is media planning. Communication planning is when you talk to the consumer, the consumer talks back to you and that is what the consumer of today is about.
The consumer of today is far more sophisticated than the consumers of the past because they are younger, they are the millennial, they want the interactions, and they are so skeptical about what people are throwing at them, because they have different messages. So the brands today that is not just throwing messages and information at consumer will give them the opportunity for a feedback and they can process the feedback and come back to you with solution.
The next base is the acceptors and the next is adopters and adorers constitute about 5 percent in terms of loyalty. So the charge is how do you move these big number of people from just being the “available” to become the “acceptor” of these planning?
Adopter is someone who for instance, drinks Pepsi and once it finishes, he takes water. A marketing director who does not understand this challenge will say he has done his job. Once you take water, you have lost some money to the man who takes water , because today it is not share of market, it is share of consumption, so once you can capture both Pepsi and water, in the case of this Pepsi and water, you have inched towards adoration. This is more of communication planning because you are converting people to become adorers.
How has the journey being so far in terms of returns?
Media buying and strategy, out of the 22 years is (real) me. There are two aspects of man, one is the commercial aspect, the other side is the fruitful, what nourishes the man is the fruitful side; and it speaks to the soul. The commercial side is money which speaks to transaction. On this side of the world, people measure you on how well you have done on the commercial side. For me I have tried all these years to balance it. You can make money and be unhappy, you may not be too rich and be happy so it’s 50/50 for me and I think I have balanced it very well, because I have been able to build my financial equity to a level where I have achieved the basic things in life. Where you achieve the basic things in life, you are not a rich man. However, you are rich in soul and disposition.
On the American Elections and Donald Trump becoming president -Elect??
That is the beauty of human nature, we must go back and look at the polling configuration process, and this is not the first time it will happen, recall it happened with the Scottish vote, it happened again with Brexit and now with Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. With the Scottish referendum, people thought they were gone because of the polls and Brexit by huge margin, people were saying that there is no way Britain was going to exit. Meaning that the mechanism has to be refilled. What is poll, it is the aggregate number of people that you have made contacts with, you hear their opinion and for instance, if everything is going to remain equal, this is what is going to be delivered, but then there are a lot of quiet voters and there are a lot of angered voters who would rather not tell you what they think. I think the polling system itself has to be looked at again. I started by referring it to human nature, which is far more complicated than it used to be, because now what mattersto man before was first economy, maybe security and thirdly other issues as it may concern diversity,Like: how is my neighbor behaving? Is he a threat to my life? Is he a threat to my job or race? But now the configuration of those three huge elements that determine human behavior has changed to the extent that security is probably number one, and number two isimmigration which centerson people’s movement around the world, and has affected settlers and owners of land. Next is economy, which is still important but it has gone from number one to three. For Americans today, for instance, first on their minds is security, second is immigration, and then third is economy because they believe that their structures are so strong to revamp the economy. But on security; they need leadership and that was one major reason why Trump won, the second one is that he spoke to the needs and desire of today. For instance, in places like Michigan where democrats have never lost since 1988, Trump went there and told them that he will make America great again and the reason why democrats lost in Michigan is that the larger number of voters are Hispanics and blacks. The pure whites, especially those without college education have not voted in the last 20 years because of apathy and anger they don’t go to vote, the minority go there and deliver the numbers. Now Trump was able to wake them up so the old, uneducated and slightly educated went to vote.
Do you see him carrying out those threats he made while campaigning?
He has executive powers to carry out the ones that do not require constitutional endorsement, but there are a few, far and wide. America’s institutions are so strong that one character or man cannot deliver those things. It depends on the mood of America.
Do you think the Buhari Administration has the capacity to deliver?
What do you require in terms of capacity for leadership? You require intelligent quotient and under it, you require skill, competence, and knowledge. At the other side of it is emotional intelligence and self-awareness, motivation and courage. If you put Buhari in that context, you will ask yourself, which one is more important for a leader? The emotional intelligence is more important than the intelligence quotient, because you can hire intelligence,knowledge and competence but you can’t hire courage and awareness. A president does not need to be the best economist in the country, otherwise we could have gone to bring the best professor laureate or economist to be the president. What he needs is sense of direction, mission, and vision, then hire people who would interpret the mission and vision. That is how leadership should be, either at family, community, state or federal levels.