Mr Chris Doghudje is a former President of Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON and ex-Managing Director of Lowe LIntas Advertising Agency. The dynamic, outspoken, down to earth and witty octogenarian recently spoke with Saturday Sun at his Surulere, Lagos residence. He went down memory lane about his life, and advertising world among others.
Could you tell us some of your memorable days as a Mass Communication student back then?
During the holiday, I attended a summer programme in the United States, Michigan University. By then, I was a student of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria Nsukka,(UNN). We call it Minex student programme, in 1965-66. In the class one day, one of the girls was asked what was her drive in coming to the university , she said that most of them were in the university to find their future husbands. Other girls did not like her confession. They were very angry with her. She said , for most of them , there was a possibility of getting their future husband which is at par, not below their standards.
I did two years in Nsukka but civil war forced me and some of my classmates to finish in Unilag. We were the first set of Mass Communication students in Unilag. We were only six that transferred from Nsukka to complete our programme in Unilag. Unilag had no Mass Communication but because of us Mass Communication department was launched. We were the original mass comm students, we were six, the most famous of us is Prince Tony Momoh who became a minister, another very famous one was Tunji Oseni who was the former MD of Daily Times,(Both were my classmates). Apart from those two, you have myself, Sam Eguavon who was editor of Observer, there is Solomon Aghedo, Ministry of Information in Benin and in the same Ministry of Information Benin was Wame Enahoro. We all came to Unilag to finish.
How was life as undergraduate then?
Life was sweet then because we were not many. At Nsukka, we had two persons to a room in the hostel. If you went to the cafeteria to eat, you had a choice. You could be on English diet or local diet, you join the queue, even doctors recommend special diets for students. Just go to the refectory and book for your special diet and they prepared that for you.
After graduation, getting a job was not an issue. There weren’t many graduates then in Mass Communication. The popular people you hear about were not graduates. If you talk about editors, sub editors, reporters, they were not graduates. If you had A level English, you were highly rated. When we came as graduates, you could go to radio; you could go to Television or Newspaper to practice.
Did you get job immediately after graduation?
Yes.You virtually pick and choose job . Then, life was good. After I graduated, the following week I got a job. After graduation, I worked for Lintas for five years and I moved to another agency on invitation. Later, Lintas reinvited me to join them. Lintas was number one at the time I retired in 1992 as the Managing Director. We had the biggest account then.
How would you rate the advertising industry today?
There is no need to rate the industry. By the time Lintas came in 1929, there was only one Agency. Now, we have many Agencies. At that time, Lintas, concentrated on UAC business at the beginning. Now, you have many busineses people can concentrate on. Advertising Agencies were few then but now they are many.
Advertising then and now, which one is better?
Now, there are competitions which is better. How many people are we hiring now, and how many are we hiring then. Now, we are hiring more. Now, we have more employees, more companies to serve and more media houses. By the time we graduated, there were only four radio stations in Nigeria. We had Radio Nigeria;(it had branches in some regions) we had WNBN, WNTV,(first in Africa) followed by ENBS, then you had Radio /Television Kaduna. We were not on FM broadcasting; we were on short wave broadcasting. Each region had radio and TV. Ibadan had radio and TV, Enugu had Radio and TV, Kaduna had Radio and TV.
What has life taught you as a person?
Life has taught me many things. One, it is good to be educated. The more you know the more you can perform. The whole purpose of advertising is to promote the freedom of choice. We have to show where we are superior, where we are better, to help some people make up their minds. Recently, they were featuring Cadbury on TV and Cadbury was talking of Bournvita, if it was Nestle on TV, they would be talking about Milo. Then the consumer is left to choose. Advertisers harp on that preference to make some people switch brands. So, freedom of choice is promoted in advertising. That is a lesson for me.
On a lighter note, If you don’t have many political parties there is no choice but if you have two or three, there is choice of party. As there is competition in advertising, there is also competition in getting husband and wife. If you are not educated, some men will not marry you, if you are not educated, some people would prefer you. They call them bush girl or village lady. Some men prefer to marry the village lady thinking that the city girl is too sophisticated for them. Some men prefer to marry City girls. It’s a matter of choice. In advertising, we promote freedom of choice, for goods and services not for human beings. (laughs)
Has APCON played a significant role in advertising?
I was APCON chairman from 2007 to 2010. The emergence of APCON has made advertising better. It has made advertising a profession like law and medicine. Apart from that, advertising needs the approval of the body before it can be up. Advertising is less offensive, and less illegal. Before , there were checks and balances but not legal checks. Checks now are more legal than before because there is a body that has made it a profession and a profession is different from being an amateur. We were all amateur professionals then but now we are professionals. There is a standard qualification you must have now. In law, you must have a law degree, in medicine, you must have a degree in medicine, in advertising, you must have a degree in advertising. This of course is in Mass Communication , Marketing or Graphic Arts. These are qualifications that make it easy for you to practice advertising.
How was life growing up?
I grew up in the village. I spent the first 10 years in Ughelli South. My village is Usiefrun town. I’m an Urhobo man. I was born 1939, July 8. In 1940 December, I moved to Warri. Since 1962 till now, I have been more of Lagos bound than anywhere else.
Living in Lagos in the 60s, how was life then?
It was more peaceful, more orderly, the cost of living had always been higher in Lagos than other places. But it was more peaceful and orderly. Again, it was where you have more disposable income because the number of people employed in Lagos is higher than that employed anywhere else in Nigeria.
You have nice grey hair, has it àlways been like this?
No. I got to 70 years before I allowed it to go grey. Before , I was dying it to look a bit young. I started greying little by about 40/50 years but then I was hiding it.
But it suits you?
Don’t mind me. But do you know that people who dye their hair are many in this world, they want to look young. Women, also dye their hair regularly? Why? It’s not bad, wisdom comes from old age.
You also look stylish?
I’m not. It is part of advertising uniform to go to work in a suit. There was no place for thank God it’s Friday and you dress casually. In Lintas, as an executive you come to work and not in suit you will be sent back home. In advertising, you must wear a suit, you don’t have to be stylish, you don’t have to be a fantastic fashionable man either. t’s good to be fashionable but you have to be in a suit.As a retired man, I dress in my Urhobo outfits.
What do you do as a retired man?
I retired in 1992. Because I trained first as a journalist, I have publication called AD News. It comes out once a month. I have been publishing that since I retired in 1992 till date. In addition to that, I’m still a facilitator teaching advertising course. If you want somebody to teach on how to sell media space, Chris Doghudje is one person who can teach you. I trained the advert department in Daily Times when Tunji Oseni was the Managing Director. I trained the advert department for three days at Agidingbi. Apart from being a regular facilitator at Pan Atlantic University when it was called Pan African University ,in its School of Media and Communication I was an adjunct facilitator for the School of Media and Communication for almost six years; I was teaching Advertising , Planning and Analysis of Media and Quality for the Masters Class .
As a retired man, I keep myself busy. Though , I no longer teach or do the facilitations but if it still comes , I would still go to facilitate but not as a lecturer.