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A Review of 2020 Young Professionals Academy

Young Lions Print Winner by Damilola David Aiki & Ademola John Adeyoola, Nitro 121 Limited

The Young Professionals Academy is an intensive training programme for young professionals aged 30 years or less working in fields such as advertising, media, brand management, and marketing communications in general. The Academy also hosts the Young Lions Competitions, which qualify winners to represent the country of work and residence at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France. The Young Lions Competition includes the Digital, Design, Print, Film, Media, PR and Marketer categories.

The 2020 Young Lions Competition brief was released on 16th March 2020. The brief focused on the failing state of the healthcare system in many African countries.

According to the brief: "We acknowledge that many organizations already engage in one form of CSR or the other. However, many of these seem to be PR stunts that are very superficial and are merely designed to help tick a statutory box or make the company look good before various publics. What we want is for brands to develop a sense of social purpose that will show in the way brands delight their customers, the way internal team members are valued, the way they adhere to ethical standards in their participation in society and how the companies engage in fair practices and positively affect all stakeholders. Furthermore, we believe in the interconnectivity of humans and that actions and inaction of people have a ripple effect and can ultimately have a global consequence."

It then required the participating young professionals to create campaigns (either for digital media, print media, film, or an overall communication strategy, depending on their registered category), which would motivate individuals and private organization to take positive, decisive steps towards contributing to Africa’s healthcare system, as part of the Creating a Better Africa initiative.

Participants in the Film category had 72 hours to respond to the brief, while those in other categories had 24 hours. Then, the judging began.


After an impromptu break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the YPA seminars finally held online from the 17th - 18th of June 2020.

The seminars were aimed at broadening the participants' creative reasoning, and consolidating other abilities that would accelerate their growth on their career paths.

The curtain raiser training session was conducted by Temitayo Adereti, Creative Director of Yellow Brick Road. It was titled “From Design Thinking to Design Feeling”. This was followed by an exposition on Talent Development and Organisations Agenda, presented by Adedayo Ojo, Managing Director & Chief Executive, Caritas Communications Ltd. Ojo showed the participants how to identify and develop their talents, especially in the light of the Nigerian economy and its crowded labour market, and how to match their talents with the needs of respective organizations. Afterwards, he shared some scholarship and skill-development opportunities which the participants could key into.

Later that day, Patrick Gomes, CEO at DigitXplus, Nigeria, then taught a class titled “Start to End- A Meaningful Process”. And with that, the first day of the 2020 Young Professionals Academy webinars was brought to a close.

The second day of training programme featured a class on “Maintaining Brand Value in the Creative Process” by Elizabeth Ofili, Brands, Events and Sponsorship Senior Analyst at Oando Plc; and Obehi Ojeaga, Corporate Communications and Social Responsibility Manager for Oando Energy Resources. They taught the participants how to manage the creative process without diminishing brand value, how to retain creative thinking in the corporate world, and how to build the pillars of a strong personal brand.

Then the baton was passed to Sule Momoh, Creative Director at Nitro 121, who presented a class on “Emotional Advertising". He identified the efficacy and prevalence of emotions in advertising, and explained to the participants (with real examples) how to suitably employ various emotions in advertising campaigns.

Sequel to that, the Creative Director at Ogilvy Nigeria, Henry Akpede, took the participants on “Creativity as a Tool for Upholding Evolution of our Cultural Values”. He touched on some of the cultural values prevalent in African communities, the relationship between upholding cultural values and evolving them, and the stance a creative should take when faced with a cultural dilemma.

The session that wrapped up the 2020 Young Professionals Academy webinars was titled “Breaking Down the Process of Creativity, by Akinlabi Akinbulumo, who is the Director of Trellis Group, and a brand strategy expert. During his class, he shared with the participants the major elements that were instrumental to his own creative process, while urging them to discover what works for them. He also emphasized mind-mapping as a tool for further immersion into a brief, and for enhancing the creative process.


On Saturday, 4th of July, 2020, the YPA delegates and jurors converged via Zoom conference call for a final review of the participants' works. Then the winners were announced by jurors as follows:

  • Damilola David Aiki & Ademola John Adeyoola, Nitro 121 Limited - Young Lions Print

  • Olashile Owolabi & Timilehin Oyedeji, DigitXplus, Lagos - Young Lions Media (Nigeria)

  • Emmanuel Addo & Deborah Eli, PHD MEDIA, Accra, Ghana - Young Lions Media (West Africa)

  • Anakhuagbor Sule & Toni Fagbemi, DigitXplus Nigeria - Young Lions Digital

  • Ukwadinamor Gift & Damilola Oyewo, TBWA CONCEPT, Nigeria - Young Lions Film.


This year's Young Professionals Academy was an experience I truly wouldn't trade for anything, from the seminars to the award proper. I gained quite an important knowledge about insights, how an insight is like the engine of a campaign, and how the right insight will lead to great story which at the end will have a remarkable effect on the brand. Again, winning the Young Lions award in the film category was the highlight of the whole event for me, because, now I believe I have stories that the world can pause and think about. Thank you to the organizers, and my amiable company TBWA Concept, Lagos for giving me the platform to push my ideas forward. - Gift Ukwadinamor.

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