Raheem Akingbolu, who followed the pitch that led to DDB’s emergence as the winner of Diageo Nigeria’s creative account, writes on how experience and quality helped the agency to beat its competitors
Months after the process to choose another advertising agency for Diageo Nigeria advertising account began, the result of the pitch was recently announced. The journey started early this year , when DDB Lagos, alongside other agencies like; Noah’s Ark, STB McCann and LTC/JWT received invitation from the procurement unit of the company to participate in their forthcoming pitch process which was scheduled to hold in February.
After the invitation was received and acknowledged by various agencies, a de-brief session was held at the Guinness Ikeja Office with all the invited Agencies in attendance. The session afforded the agencies concerned opportunity to clarify grey portions of the briefs which were designed to further push Johnnie Walker and McDowell’s brands.
However, according to a source within the company, Lanre Adisa’s Noah’s Ark was said to have pulled out shortly after the clarification stage for reasons best known to the agency.
From the First day, the company tried to live up to its international status by making sure the process was transparent and met global standard. This was clearly shown in the quality of people that accessed the agencies. The first noticeable signal was the assemblage of a team of young people led by the Business Development and Creative Director that coordinated the ideation, strategy development and planning stages of the pitch process. To avoid any ambiguity, all these were eventually uploaded on the Guinness e-sourcing online platform on Thursday 25th February, 2016, ahead of the presentation date which was scheduled to hold the next day.
The same feat was also said to have been achieved during the presentation, which was witnessed by brand managers of the different brands in attendance. After the presentation, agencies proceeded to share presentations for both briefs after which they fielded questions from the Diageo team.
A few weeks later, DDB Lagos was shortlisted for the 2nd stage of the process which involved an Agency visit which held on Tuesday, 22nd March 2016. The session helped the Diageo team to familiarise themselves with DDB Lagos, its modus operandi, values, team and facility. It also served as an opportunity for further clarifications on the remuneration proposal amongst other things and was a good meeting for both parties.
In the weeks that followed, there were further negotiations on the remuneration proposal after which DDB Lagos was formally appointed on Friday, 8th April 2016. With this latest achievement, the agency, which is currently under the mentorship of Mr. Ikechi Odigbo as Chief Executive Officer, DDB Lagos, will henceforth handles the Spirits portfolio of the global brand, which includes; Baileys, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Ciroc, McDowells and Gordons brands.
The strength of the agency
Indeed, every success story of DDB Lagos owed something to the agency’s commitment to the philosophy of going the extra mile and putting clients and their brands first to ensure that the brands continue to win against market competition.
For over a decade, DDB Lagos has continued to maintain its leadership role in the highly competitive advertising business in Nigeria and West Africa. A consistent winner at the Lagos Ideas and Advertising Festival (LAIF), awards since 2006, with over 60 awards, which make the team the most awarded agency in the history of the awards. DDB Lagos also has it’s footprints on the international stage where it became the first Nigerian agency to pick up prestigious awards at the EPICA and the African Cristal Award Festivals.
Last year, DDB Lagos also successfully added five new accounts to its portfolio. As at today, its new businesses include; Olam, an Asian multinational dealing in confectioneries, beverages and other products, Wakanow, Nigeria’s online travel company and Huawei, the Asian technology experts. Others are; Verve and Quickteller from Interswitch, payment platform professionals and Africa Re, insurance specialists.
Established by Mr. Enyi Odigbo, current chairman of Caesars Group in Nigeria 29 years ago, DDB was among the second set of agencies that demonstrated in practical terms that Nigerians were prepared to change the fortune of the ad industry.
After overcoming its teething stages, the agency became one of the most sought-after agencies, first as a result of the influence of its global network. The defining moment came when it won the MTN accounts in 2006.
The agency, which prides itself as ‘enemy of the ordinary’ has in the last seven years created innovative selling ideas in pushing the brand equity of MTN in the market place.
After days of pressure, the victorious agency opened up to THISDAY early this week. According to its CEO, Mr. Ikechi Odigbo, the agency was excited as a result of the achievement and confident that it would give wind to its sails for more conquests ahead.
He said: “It is hard to find the right words about this news…I think the words are best summed up by the legendary Bob Scarpelli, former Chief Creative Officer of DDB Worldwide in a note he once wrote:
“..Win or lose, we always learn something about ourselves from a pitch. What I’ve learned through all my years here is that we are a proud, resilient group. We are winners. We are fighters. We don’t give up. And we always have the attitude that when we don’t win one, we’re going to win the next one. Most of the time, we do…”
He however stated that the achievement was a testament of the hard work of the team. “We are structured more like a medium sized agency handling billings of a large agency. Being able to divert resources to pitch from existing accounts is a big challenge but we have stuck to our policy of having the highest billing ratio per executive because we want to be sure that whoever is working within DDB Lagos is outstanding and we are not just bringing in bodies, bringing in numbers and at the end of the day diluting the quality. We are very happy with our new client and the entire credit goes to the team who worked directly on the pitchand also a big thanks to everyone in the Group for their total support and confidence,”
Also reacting, the Director of Business Development of DDB Lagos, Tunde Dosekun, spoke aboutone of the fundamental elements of DDB’s success. According to him, “When you have the benefit of working for brands like MTN, Unilever, Interswitch and a host of other clients that we have had, I think it is almost only inevitable that you will achieve success because these are leading brands in their respective categories,”
To this end, Dosekun drove home his point by stating emphatically that the objective of the agency has never been to win awardsbut to help clients’ product and services gain superior market share in the marketplace and to achieve their marketing objectives, whatever they may be.