Working On Multinational Brands Was An Eye-Opener For Me – Timilehin Bello, CEO, Media Panache Nigeria


One of the youngest Nigerian Marketing Communication Experts, Mr. Timilehin Bello, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Media Panache Nigeria shared his success story with MARKETINGSPACE team in his Lagos office recently. He spoke about how the industry can be improved and how Nigerian government can best manage the image of the country through engaging Public Relations Professionals. Excerpts…

Working On Multinational Brands Was An Eye-Opener For Me –  Timilehin Bello, CEO, Media Panache
Timilehin Bello, CEO, Media Panache

How will assess the Nigerian marketing communication industry as regards promoting brands, products and services?

I believe it is the strategy that matters simply because if a product is new and they want to launch into the market, some brand owners employ a PR agency to come up with strategy that will work for the product. Firstly, it is to understand the product, look at the background, check for the competitive sponsors and once you have those analyses on check, you rather create a PR strategy that can work for the product.

For me, it is just to understand the brand, understand the competitive market before you can now create something that is different from the norms for the brand that will actually strike the consumers that you are trying to reach out to.

Would you say that players in the marketing communication industry in Nigeria have done well over the years?

I will say that it is evolving because communication has gone past the traditional media. Now we are talking about digital media and other things. In Nigeria, we are not yet where we should be but then we are trying to keep doing amazing things and trying to follow the trends. I think marketing communication professionals are doing well. I don’t think anyone is doing badly. We all are trying to follow the trends and see what is effective nowadays. If it is the social media that is effective, everyone wants to maximize its usage to be able to reach out to the target consumers. Marketing communications professionals in Nigeria are trying and they are doing everything possible to ensure their works stand out.

For us at Media Panache Nigeria, we are also doing the same thing. We ensure that our clients try new things and part of our work is to analyse trends. We understand trends and we ensure that our clients also reason with us on new trends. We make use of all communication tools that are presently available to reach out to target consumers.

You have been in this industry for some time, can you evaluate the level of professionalism in PR profession in Nigeria?

I am quite young, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have professional experience. I moved from one agency to another before I started Media Panache Nigeria. While I was working at Black House Media, I worked on different brands. Working on multinational brands was an eye-opener for me to see that PR is not a child’s play.

For level of professionalism in Nigeria, I think PR can boast of thoroughly bred professionals who have done so well in the industry. We have the likes of Mr. Ayeni Adekunle, Mr. John Ehiguese, Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okusanya and the rest of them. They are doing amazing stuffs, working with big clients and international affiliations. We the young ones look up to them and aspire to be like them. I think PR professionals are doing well and we will keep trying to do our best. We will keep trying to do things that will wow the clients and things that will buy the minds of the consumers.

Your agency celebrated a year of establishment recently, what are the challenges you have faced since you started?

When I wanted to start Media Panache Nigeria nobody told me CEOs don’t sleep. I started the agency with the background of what I wanted to do. But I didn’t really understand what entrepreneurship is all about until I actually wore the shoes. Wearing the shoes now opened my eyes to lots of things. Whenever I go to my former boss, Mr. Adekunle Ayeni, I say boss, you never told me CEOs don’t sleep. That is quite challenging for me because I don’t sleep and you know when you don’t rest your brain it affects a lot of things on your health. Another challenge is getting the right employees because a lot of people just want to work without putting their minds in what they are doing.

The era of social media has changed a lot of things and people just feel that social media is PR whereby it is not. Many of these young guys believe that PR is all about social media. So, getting the right employee was a big challenge for us. The third challenge was getting clients because nobody wants to entrust their brand into a new agency, they are scared may be we don’t have enough experience to cater for their brand. People that we had were based on referrals, people that know what we can do. Those we are working for in the last one year are the people that believe in us and we never disappointed them. We gave them the best and they are happy about our services. The fourth challenge is the economy. Media Panache Nigeria started at a time when things were difficult.

I thought I was going to fail when I started the agency because I felt I started at the wrong time. I didn’t start when the economy was booming, when clients are willing to disburse heavily for campaigns. I started the agency when everywhere was dull for business, there was no money in circulation, nobody wanted to spend extra money. The economy was a big challenge for us, we had to fuel generator, pay for internet and pay for other bills. The economy wanted to kill our shine, some clients didn’t want to use us, a lot of things happened but we fought it through and we are still surviving.

In recent years, Nigeria’s image has not been effectively managed, how best can PR firms come in?

I think people that are managing Nigeria’s affairs don’t believe in Nigeria’s PR firms. They don’t believe in us handling the image of the country. They rather outsource it to foreign agencies. Truthfully, we have qualified PR agencies that can actually handle the image of the country. For me, I think the Federal Government needs to believe in PR agencies in Nigeria for us to manage their image properly.

The people also have to believe in the government because if the people are not happy about Nigeria they will say nasty things about the country on social media and outsiders who don’t like the country will pick up all those nasty things and use them against the country. So, Federal Government has a lot of work to do to redeem the image of the country. We need to get people together, we need to ensure that the suffering reduced so that people will start saying good things about Nigeria.

Who are those agencies or companies you have worked for?

Within our one year of existence, we have worked for Bank of Industry, we partnered with Brooks and Blake to work with MTN Foundation. We have done amazing stuffs for Simplified Corporate Logistics and host of others.

Tell us your best campaign or brief ever done or executed by your agency.

Currently we are running a campaign for Whogohost and it is called simply build it. Whogohost is a website solution company. They came to us and said they want to push their website where people can actually build their website for a little amount of money. You can build your website by yourself without the help of anyone. We thought about it and felt that what can we use for this campaign but we eventually used digital marketing. We didn’t want to use any of the traditional platforms.

We eventually use celebrities to post contents, images and videos on their website. We have been having good feedback on social media since it is about instant feedback. We use celebrities to talk about the brand and people actually believe the originality. For us, this looks quite interesting and the feedback is awesome and the client is having good time with the campaign.

Who is your role model in the IMC industry?

My role model is Mr. Ayeni Adekunle because he was the one who told me I can actually do PR. I wasn’t doing PR before, I was just doing social media and the rest of it. He made me believe that I can actually do PR. While working for him, I was given heavy task which I never believed that he was trying to train me for this time out. Whatever he gave me as at that time that was tasking, it was actually a training for me to build myself. He has been supportive in our business and still willing to do more.