Following their success at the 2020 Pitcher Festival, Creativity Week Africa scheduled an interview with Ola Olowu, Managing Director and Chief Creative Officer, Isobar Nigeria to find out more about the processes, people and organisation behind the feat. Read the exciting and insightful story.
How is Isobar Nigeria making a difference in the market it’s set up to serve?
We transform our clients businesses by integrating creativity, data and technology to create meaningful customer experiences that produce real results.
Since our entrance into the Nigerian market we have evolved from delivering digital marketing solutions to expand our offering to integrated marketing solutions. Our data driven creativity has helped our client achieve success that is measurable and impactful, which is especially important in today's world where ROI is king.
What is your perception about African creativity and talents so far?
Africa has creative talent to burn. We have so many great stories to tell which are deeply inspired by our culture and tradition. This angle makes our work unique and different from the things we see on today's global stage.
The problem we face is not with our talent, but getting that talent noticed. India is a great example of a country that has been able to really leverage on their locally relevant insights and ideas to elevate their status in the creative world.
We need to continue to champion work that comes from the continent, and showcase what unapologetically African creativity looks like.
What structure do you have within your system that prepares your people to come up with great campaigns?
At Isobar we believe in Ideas without limits. This means that what ever your age, position or gender, great ideas can come from anywhere. So when we meet in house we don’t say no to any idea - nothing is ‘too stupid’. It's just an idea that hasn’t found the right expression yet.
What do you consider the biggest challenge with finding and retaining top talents?
Within the industry there is such fierce competition to attract people with the right skill and mindset, making recruitment and retention tough. Even if you are lucky enough to get them, keeping them is not guaranteed as they can be poached by other agencies or even clients.
At Isobar we aim to not just employ based on skill and experience, but also on the drive to improve and grow the talent they already have. Keeping them requires that they are properly engaged with the work they do, and with the people who they work with.
To what extent has being in the Dentsu Aegis Group been able to produce leading creative solutions for brands?
The Dentsu Aegis Network are the first, truly global marketing services group built for the digital economy. Creative solutions are always designed around people through the use of data and insight that leads to real results for our clients brand and business.
Creativity is our superpower, but it is always grounded on real human insights powered by the tools we have access to thanks to being part of the Dentsu Aegis Network.
Your performance at 2020 Pitcher Awards has been outstanding with 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 3 Bronze. What has been your impression about this success?
We are really proud that the late hours we put into our work is getting some recognition, but we know that success is never final. It opens up the door to newer challenges and more work, which is ultimately what we live for.
Can you please tell us about the idea behind the Kings Stitch campaign and goals that it was meant to achieve for an alcoholic beverage company?
In 2019, Budweiser approached Isobar with a request - ‘Help us connect to our target audience through fashion, but in a truly authentic way’.
The way we were able to do this was by hinging our idea on a strong consumer insight - despite our cultural diversity and bold approach to style, when it comes to individuality, we tend to not be tolerant to people’s differences, especially young people.
To address this unbalance Budweiser, a brand that stands for freedom and authenticity, created a platform that gave Nigerian youth a voice to speak freely against a society that constantly inhibits their self-expression.
The objective was to empower the average Nigerian to think outside the boundaries set by society and to show them that being a King is a mindset, one that dictates you follow your own rules and be comfortable in who you choose to be.
We had real people tell real stories - using polarizing Nigerians who get talked down every day because of their lifestyle choices, we sparked stimulating conversation across social media. This empowered others to come out and speak their truth. And then, with 2 of Nigeria’s finest designers, Orange Culture and Tokyo James, who had fought their own battles relating to their individuality, we created The King’s Stitch collection.
The King’s Stitch collection wasn’t just fashionable, it featured elements from people’s real-life stories. The collection did not only rock the runway, it rocked the streets, social media and the fashion industry. The collection became a beacon of pride for the marginalized.
It was no surprise that the collection sold-out within the first 2 weeks of its launch, and we got huge traction for our clients both in online and offline chatter.
What do you think the government can do to ensure the survival of ad agencies and that the creative industry as whole continues to thrive post-COVID-19?
Today, more than ever, the importance of culture and creativity to society is clear. What we create contributes not just to the mental health and well-being of those who view it, but also to our clients who need our services to help move their products during these difficult times.
Unfortunately the creative sectors were among the most affected by the current Coronavirus crisis due to the sudden and massive loss of revenue opportunities when many of our clients had to halt marketing and production.
To ensure the industry continues to survive post COVID, and protect it from future shocks its important that the government first needs to recognize that the loss of jobs and revenue within the sector will also negatively impact the Nigerian economy as a whole.
If they are able to implement fiscal policies like interest friendly loans, investments, etc that protect workers, agencies and organizations from failing in times of crisis, we could be off to a good start.
History has proven that sometimes a crisis is an opportunity to address deep-rooted problems. There is no need to wait for another crisis before making needed changes now.