CEO of Insight Publicis, Feyi Olubodun, shares insights on Nigerian advertising; launches new book at ESCP Business School

CEO of Insight Publicis, Feyi Olubodun, shares insights on Nigerian advertising; launches new book at ESCP Business School

On 8th May, as part of the C-Suite Lecture Series, ESCP Business School’s London campus and its Creativity Marketing Centre (CMC) welcomed Feyi Olubodun, Managing Director and CEO of Insight Publicis -Nigeria’s largest advertising agency.

ESCP Business School was proud to host Feyi and offer the students, alumni and staff an insightful observation of the key factors for succeeding in the international advertising world. As a worldwide leader in multicultural and international management studies, the School teaches its students to understand the market variations between different countries and applying different strategies based on their consumer patterns. 

Feyi delivered an engaging and lively talk supported by many success story videos. He showcased how brands can absorb the cultural pattern of the target community in its adverts, but also how those adverts adjust its content and meaning based on a particular community’s rules and sanctions. The talk drew out some valuable lessons about marketing in an increasingly multicultural world, and one driven by community rules and traditions. He described success as a sum of commerce, consumer and culture. One has to have a cultural intelligence to decide how far to take the brand.

Feyi also spoke about his latest book ‘The Villager – How Africans Consume Brands’, published first in Nigeria in February this year and now being promoted across the world. The publication offers a fascinating look at what success means in one of the world’s fastest-growing consumer markets.

Africa as a continent driven by the power and reach of communities and its rituals, those traditionally local but increasingly digital

The focus of the presentation was on the African market and its cultural profiles, and how it is used in producing winning advertising campaigns. Feyi chose Nigeria as a representative of Central African countries due to its growing economy, its population of 170 million, of which 70% is below age 30, and with 250 spoken languages. He explained that Nigeria – and, indeed, the whole continent – has an increasingly young and fast growing population, underlining the prediction that by 2050 Africa would be the world’s most populated continent.

Feyi made interesting and thought-provoking comparisons between the African and European ways of thinking. Time, for example, for Africans is “a feeling, and is not absolute as in the Western world”. Life in Africa is contributory and participatory, and people have pride in distributing the wealth amongst family and friends. For that reason, most Africans become personally wealthy only in later life; before thinking of making themselves rich they feel the obligation to help others.

As African villagers are urbanising they continue to retain their village culture. Feyi said: “It is no longer a physical context but a psychological identity.” It is carried with them wherever they go, even across the continents. For that reason, the focus in successful advertising is usually on cultural patterns such as rituals (Telecom ad), herd mentality (mentioned in the film ‘Blood Diamond’), religion, and even the value of an enemy. In the latter case, one lives their life to prove that person wrong, which makes it a great motivation to succeed. Another success factor is the use of emotions that steer people’s lives to create a lasting effect. These are joy (MTN ad), fear (for example, in malaria prevention and the safety nets ad) and hope (Airtel smartphone network ad).

Feyi says: “The key in making advertising work in a community is not to try to change its mentality but to use it.”

Feyi later engaged with the audience in presenting his new publication and talked more in detail about the practicalities of writing and publishing books.

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The C-Suite Lecture Series provides an opportunity to hear directly from successful executives and business leaders. Each shares lessons learned throughout their distinguished careers, and provides insight into complex business worlds. The event is open to all current ESCP Business School students, members of our Alumni community, staff and faculty.