All over the world, businesses have used media planning and buying since the dawn of newspaper, radio and television. Today, it has tremendously evolved into a much more complex and revenue-generating marketing tactic. With the Advent of social media, media consumption has exponentially increased. The trend has made media planning and buying agencies up their game by way of innovation and creativity. Media buying agencies in Nigeria are no exception to that.
One of such agencies is SBI Media, a leading media planning, buying and digital agency whose philosophy to the business is basically a synergy of technology, insights, strategy, ideas, action and organisation to deliver top-notch and channel communication services.
In its short period of existence, the agency has been ranked as Nigeria’s largest independent media agency, built on the culture of bravery, thought leadership, and innovation.
Incursion of SBI into Nigerian Marcom
The Rotimi Bankole led media planning and buying agency has been in business for nearly a decade, it started operation in 2013. Since then, the story has been hard work, team work, building, rebuilding, learning and unlearning.
The agency started business as SBI Media and today it has grown to become a group that offers services across major value chains of marketing communication, brand management, media buying, media strategy, digital transformation, digital marketing, event, activation and public relations.
SBI Media Group now known as a one-stop shop for marketing communication. The agency can boast of a team of people close to about one hundred. When it started operation, the agency had less than twenty people. Today, its staff is close to one hundred and more, especially direct professionals working in the business.
The 360 degree media agency has operations in Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Dubai. Recently, through some of its partners, it got licensed to start operations in the United Kingdom. Its plan is to be Africa’s global agency and that is the strategic relations the agency is riding on. SBI Media Group is positioned to be the bridge between Africa and the world.
SBI as Nigeria’s fastest growing media planning and buying agency
The Group’s Head of Strategy and Global Business Development, Samuel Odusami offers some insights on how SBI Media has become Nigeria’s fastest growing media planning and buying agency. “I don’t believe close to about ten years is a short time. If you look at the age we are now, the world was in a primitive age before it moved to agricultural age and during those periods, different changes have actually taken a long time and the world moved to the steam engine, from the steam engine that gave birth to the industrial age.”
According to him, “If you look at lots of changes that happened historically during those periods, you will see that things were changing rapidly. We got to an age called technology age, we experienced the development of internet and ICT technology. Later we got to the social media connectivity age, we got to an age where the full potential of the internet was being harnessed to the maximum and a whole lot of information that was not able to move from one place to the other is being done easily.”
“The age when SBI Media started business has actually gained a lot of steam, so you could expect that anybody starting a business as at that time has much information, eagerness and people that he can partner with, also talents to work with. That is why if you look at the businesses and startups that were founded around 2004 to 2010 for example, Facebook was founded 2004, Twitter was founded 2006, Instagram came in 2010, a whole lot of these ideas and businesses were just two men businesses but now they are multi-billion dollars getting to trillion dollars valuation.”
“Tesla of today, how many years ago was Tesla founded? Tesla is close to about 700 billion dollars in valuation. It seems as if it is rapid but actually any business that was able to get the best team together, leverage the information age, leverage technology, leverage human capital, there was no way that business would not have moved ahead of where it started from”, he added.
The agency’s management style
Reacting to questions on their management style, Odusami said, “We don’t have staff, we have team members. One thing that actually stands out is, if you look at any business that struggles, maybe from the Nigeria point of view, and that business might not able to execute well and when a business doesn’t execute well, one of the most important factors that leads to this is the lack of a formidable team to execute the division of the objective of that organization.
So, what we put ahead is the belief that if one person is going to work on an idea or is going to execute a project that project can never be as perfect as a project where you are going to have ten, twenty, thirty equally good persons putting heads together to execute that same project. That has been our style.
That is why we believe so much in collaboration, we believe much more in learning from other people. We have this champion mentally, we would not say we have people in the management at the top and everybody takes orders from them. We run a flat structure, when we have challenges; we all put heads together and look for solutions. That is one of the most important factors that is working for us.
Apart from awards, though awards are actually good indices to adjudge performance, however, the best barometers that we can use are the fact that we have partners, because we don’t believe we have clients, we call them partners.
Those partners who have seen their businesses move from nothing to blue chips, companies who are now as big as companies that were founded in the last twenty to thirty years and they just equally started business even a little much later than we started business.
Green Africa Airways, one of the fast rising local airlines in Nigeria, we were part of their story when they started.
When Green Africa Airways was still an idea on PowerPoint slides, when the company was searching everywhere to raise money from investors, to get Air Operating License (AOT), get a lot of certifications, get a whole lot of things done, we were part of the entire journey.
We were not even earning any income from that business; we were just saying we are partners in this business.
Today, Green Africa Airways is in the skies in Nigeria. I believe that with the kind of management and team in that company in the next couple of years, I see them flying outside of Nigeria into international markets within Africa and other parts of the world.
So, that is the kind of indices we want to use to evaluate ourselves. I also remember the story of Opay and the story of Transsion Holdings, the makers of Tecno, Infinix, and Itel phones. When we joined them in 2017 they were on a trajectory to actually dominate the market but they were facing highly formidable and much more powerful competition in the market. We were able to work with the partners and took in a lot of team work to support them all the way.
They are now the largest in the African continent, not just in Nigeria. So, those are the kind of indices we want to use coupled with recognition of awards and commendations.
Afiliation with Stagwell
Basically, when we set out to be part of this global alliance our major aim was not just to get something for ourselves. The major aim like I said is that we want to become Africa’s global agency. In doing that, it means that we have something to offer.
We have something that we are bringing to the table and that is why we said we are going to look for partners even if they are bigger than us we have something to bring to the table. We have ideas, we have local knowledge nuances, we have our own approach; very original.
We equally have innovative approaches to actually work even in the global market in terms of case studies and capabilities. That was what we took and we saw that they have been very instrumental and we have also done so much together in a very short period.
In the next couple of weeks we are going to be releasing one of the first projects that we have done together which is not even just a commercial project.
We believe that data is the life-wire of the kind of industry that we work in. We are doing research about Nigeria, about a specific sector of growth in the Nigerian economy and you wouldn’t believe that if we went into that partnership because of a global account and started making money we won’t be saying we want to even start with a project. Infact, both parties are even spending money at the moment.
Why we are doing this is because we want much more difference. When that research comes out, it is going to be unique, it is first of its kind and based on the plans that the partners actually have, we are looking at having that research consistently.
It is going to actually position a particular industry in Nigeria as one of the best if not the best in the world. This industry is the fast rising industry globally that is positioning Nigeria across the world. Those are the kind of things we are doing together.
We are also collaborating to develop tools, people, and work with partners in the business. Basically, that is what that partnership is all about. It is about having that challenger mentality and solving problems.
Notable successes recorded after the partnership
By the time the research I talked about is out, SBI and Stagwell are going to be known all over Africa and the world. The research is going to be ground breaking, it is going to set us apart because if you don’t have that unique differentiation of what you are bringing to the industry, locally, regionally and globally you don’t actually march the whole lot of buzz words that you use to qualify yourself, that is one.
Number two, we are building a team of some of the best brains across the globe and now we are part of that team. In the commercial sense, we have started lots of businesses together which some of them are not public companies. You would have seen some of the businesses we are doing and expanding, many of them are being contributed through that alliance. These are some of the earlier successes of the partnership.
Brands that have benefitted from the agency’s experience
From the time that we started business, we started with Konga, this brand was struggling to put their first radio commercial. The company even didn’t have money but we stayed with them and they were able to raise funds, we grew with that business and today, in the history of Nigeria’s e-commerce sector, Konga is a name to be reckoned with. We also grew aggressively with Transsion Holdings, makers of Tecno, Infinix and Itel, FirstBank, Access Bank and Starling Bank.
You won’t talk about solution providers in marketing communication to the financial services industry today without mentioning SBI Group. In the Aviation industry, I told you about Green Africa Airways, also Turkish Airlines.
In the technology sector, we have been one of the most technology oriented agencies or solution providers. In the FinTech sector, we have been very influential with the launch of Palmpay and host of other technology companies. I can go on and on because the list is endless.
Like I said, we don’t have clients, we have partners. Partners are actually looking for people that are smart in deeds and actions. When partners are looking for another partner, they want to see synergy so that you understand their business and the challenges they have and you can also bear some of the burden because the market is not a bed of roses, you will always have ups and downs. Do you have the financial muscle to shoulder some of these responsibilities of the partner? Do you have the agile team to actually support your partner when the competition is tough, when the market is not doing well?
Look at the global economy that we have now, things are hard everywhere and brands are also feeling the heat, inflation is everywhere. So, when partners are looking for agency what they see in us is actually that synergy, humility to learn, unlearn and relearn, they see in us that agile team, ready to take on challenges.
We solve problems for partners, we are not just putting PowerPoint together trying to sell something to them, no. We actually solve real life business problems and challenges. Those are the kind of things that actually draw partners to us and we are also very ambitious.
We have Alison Oyome, who is the team coordinator, by position is the General Manager, he is the entire leader of the group. Rotimi Bankole is the overall team leader, CEO and Founder. Samuel Odusami is in charge of Strategy and Business Development.
In our event and activation division we have Kayode Olowoyeye, he has been leading that team for more than seven to eight years. In our Finance we have Oludare Ajao because we believe finance is very key. Our human resource manager is Oluwapemi Eze. We have a couple of team leaders who have been doing amazing work in the agency.
Future projections for the agency
We want to execute on our strategic plan which is like a ten to twenty years plan. That is we really want to exemplify the vision that we want to become Africa’s global media agency. In any economic centre or hub in the world that you might get to in the next ten to twenty years you will find us. That is the kind of plan that we have. We want to have that footprint by bringing in people of like-minds that are ready to take on the challenges.’’