I won’t be surprised if client service department is scrapped from ad agencies – Clement Omemu, Managing Director, Black Sea Advertising Limited


Black Sea Advertising is one of the new ad agencies that are currently changing the face of Nigerian advertising landscape. The agency is prepared to transform the industry by churning out great ideas that stand-out from the rest. In this interview with MARKETINGSPACE, its Managing Director, Clement Omemu spoke about how clients service people kill creativity in the Nigerian advertising space. Excerpts:

Clement Omemu
Clement Omemu

It has been observed that agencies run by Creative guys perform more than those anchored by client service people, what brought about this trend?

We use to call them the suit guys and they are one of the killers of creativity because they think like the clients. We in the creative department used to mock them that they are clients’ messengers. We used to joke so much about this, it is not because we hate them but we felt they are not selling ideas properly and they are not representing the brands properly. It is what the client said that is above creativity and which is wrong. So, overtime, you find out that the creative people became restless because when you travel abroad and see what your colleagues do and you come home to see what the client is approving, you will get irritated. Overtime, I will not be surprised if the client service department is totally eradicated in agencies and that is the way we are going. I don’t have client service staff for example, I only have people who take ideas out to sell and follow up with the brands. So, what do I need a client service person for? What is he doing that the creative man can’t do? What value is he bringing to the table? Except to bring third party cost, but the client is interested in what will grow his brand. And if a creative man sells the idea well, then what is the big deal?  I can tell you that I have gone to re-present jobs that client service person could not present properly on so many occasions and I got the job.

We observed that some copies produced with some ad agencies are not so fantastic but we found out that there are young guys in the industry with fantastic ideas, what is responsible for this?

These are the rebels in the advertising industry who feel this is the way it should be done. I am so glad that some clients are listening to them. Recently, a friend of mine who is a creative director in a prominent advertising agency posted some messages about what we should be doing and I asked whether he intimated his client. Because some clients just don’t understand what you do. But you have to talk less. Today’s world is about images, people don’t read anymore. You must do something that will attract attention, blow the mind of someone and make him stop. He doesn’t have time to read twenty five pages of texts. Give him something that will attract his attention. I am happy that clients are buying into our ideas because most brand managers are the ones killing creativity in Nigeria because of the things they insist on having, it is about them not about the brand. The client service person, the creative person and the brand manager, they all work together to grow the brand. It is what the brand has that they have to project but most times some brands project the brand manager’s idea.

Have you ever questioned any directive given to a client service person instead of creative person?

Most times clients prefer speaking to creative person. Clients will say call your creative persons I want to speak to them. Because the client service person is not presenting the idea properly as he was presenting, he was also thinking of income and expenditure. But the creative man is thinking of what will sell the brand. Which idea will he bring out to sell this brand and win awards? He is looking at it from two different perspectives.

Don’t you think there is a missing link between the client service people and the creative guys?

There is no missing link. They are the ones missing the link. If you have a brief, what you are expected to do is to strategise for the brand. Write a creative brief before you present it to the creative people. What I found out these days is that all of those things are what a creative man can do. Because you can equally get your brief, do it properly and write creative brief based on your insight.

Since you have decided to operate without client service people, how can you access the performance of the creative guys?

I can tell you the performance has been awesome because we think alike and when we go to the client we think alike as well. I can recall a situation where I was working. Myself and a client service guy went for a meeting and he kept saying I should keep quiet that the client is talking but I said no, that client is killing the brand. And I told the client that it would not work. I told him you are a professional I am a professional this will not work for the brand. When it comes to creativity give me the respect. The idea that the client presented was too busy but at the end he listened to me. He saw the conviction in my voice and he agreed with me. It is not that I am envying the client service people but they should work for us, they should give us business or consult for us.

What is your company’s Unique Selling Point and projection in the next five years?

Our philosophy is brand love, turning consumers to fans. What we discover is, most times if you check football as a game what you called diehard fans or followership, no matter what happens to their clubs, they keep supporting the club like Arsenal fans do. Why? They are not getting money from there, they are not shareholders but they are stakeholders by being fans of the club. So, I will say do we have fans of products? Yes. Most times we come up with marketing strategies and communication plans that will make a consumer to become a fan of the brand. And one of the key issues is experience. It is not about ATL; doing TV or radio commercials, is about creating experience for that brand so that the consumer can talk about it every day. Then we use ATL to remind them about the brand that is all. We see ATL from a reminding point of view not just a brief. What will make this man become the fan of this brand? We look into the minds and the hearts of consumers.

Who are your clients?

Presently we are working for two governments. We are working with two banks and an alcoholic beverage business around the corner.  Presently we have five accounts that we are working on. This is our third month and our presentation is not the usual way of presentation. If you check all our documents you won’t find stories, you won’t find lots of text because pictures tell stories. So, in 30 seconds we are done.

Who are your role models in the industry?

First and foremost, I must appreciate Mr. Lanre Adisa of Noah’s Ark Advertising and Steve Babaeko of X3M Ideas Limited. I respect their resourcefulness because they took the bold steps. They made people like us believe that it can be done. They were nowhere before but today they have become giants in the industry and I believe more people like them are still coming to dominate, disrupt and revolutionise the marketing communications industry.