Otis Ojeikhoa is the managing director of Brands Optimal, an advertising agency based in Opebi, Lagos State. Driven to heights through determination, the Edo State-born experimental marketer and brand expert rose through the ranks, paying attention to details. He also became very passionate about marketing and brands. Little wonder any area of marketing he touches his hands turns into gold.
Speaking to Sunday Sun in his Opebi office, Ojeikhoa differentiated the old traditional method of advertising from the new space.
What does team Brands Optimal, which you head do?
At Brands Optimal, we are into experiential marketing and advertising. It is experiential because we use human experience to sell products, goods and services. When this is juxtaposed to the traditional advertising, it will be the other side of radio, television and outdoor services like bill boards. With the traditional advertising, and orthodox marketing; we have a monologue where if one is watching an advertisement on a television, or listening to a radio jingle or looking at an advert on bill board, one will not be able to interrogate the communication; but with experiential marketing, we are able to interrogate the communication or communicator. We do human to human marketing which explains further that if I am selling a product, I have to put a human being to sell that product instead of a television, radio or billboard. That is the difference between experiential marketing and advertising. With expressional marketing, one is able to ask questions like, why should I buy this product, what is the durability, what will be my benefit if I buy the product? That is what we do?
What is a typical example of a work done using the expressional value?
We have actually done a lot, and very regularly. But I will like to talk about our work on one of the most selling whiskies called Jameson. We launched Jameson in this country when people didn’t know much about it and our job was to get consumers, lovers of whiskies, people that wish to drink whisky to be able to understand how Jameson is different from other brands. We took Jameson, spent our time with all the consumers as many as we could find in the touch point that is relevant to us, with the last time they enjoy brands; we laid back, studied our clients, presented our discussions to the best of our ability, added ‘don’t take me seriously-serious-kind of lifestyle, and were able to tell the 20-point story of a triple filtered smoothness of Jameson. The fact that it is extremely distinguished amongst whiskies and the fact that it is easily affordable by almost every person that aspires to drink it, so the combination of the lifestyle, taste, adaptability of the brand led us to speak to consumers and adapt to the taste and they started loving the drink. So, Jameson today has become one of the fastest selling whiskies because of the grand work we did years ago. We tried to get consumers understand the brand. Not just to say drink the brand, but understand why they should drink the brand. They were also able to ask us why they should drink the brand, how much to pay to drink it and we were also able to respond to the interrogations that traditional marketing media would not be able to do because there is no dialogue, but monologue.
How long have you been into the business of brands?
I have always been a marketer all my life. When I started work in 2002, I started as a marketing executive at Kodak and moved through the rank, and became the country manager in 2006. I left Kodak and joined a marketing agency, EXP as marketing director and moved to Footprints where I became the pioneer managing director. I have always been in the field of marketing, trying to sell products to consumers in ways that appeal to them or they would understand better. Selling is not just buying, but putting a product before one that would meet the person’s need at specific times. So, I have always been in that space through the days of Kodak, EXP and Footprints and eventually in Brands Optimal. I have always also been in helping brands to find their consumers, preach the message between consumers, product and market space. Also help to find common grounds or point of interceptions between all the three aspects – brands, market and consumer. I have been in this space from the first day I started work till date. Having spent 15 years in the marketing industry is not a joke.
How did you come into marketing since you did not study Marketing in school?
I studied English, History and Communication from Edo State University Ekpoma in the present day Edo State. I came out with a good grade according to my people. I made a Second Class honours, Upper Division, and missed First Class by the whiskers. If only I had not played too much when I gained admission, probably I would have got a First-Class Honours. I was not known in my Department because I was one of the back benchers who was not known by lecturers. But one day, my HoD called me and said “you have been in this Department in the last three years and your grades are very good, why not sit up and make us proud with a First Class Honours? We have not produced a First Class material in this Department in the entire history of this school, so please sit up. He kept me through it, but it was rather late because I was already in 300-level. Grades and marks have been recorded, so I stood and graduated comfortably with my 2-1 grade. I lectured at the University of Calabar during my National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) and was retained because of my youthfulness, being liked by students because we carried along very well, I made a lot of impact, especially in the courses I took, and improved the pass rate in remedial courses I taught. I was retained, but did not want to stay back as a lecturer, I wanted to go into the business world.
What is the unique selling point of Brands Optimal among other expressional advertising agencies?
There are a lot of misconceptions about our industry because if one begins to mention names like Blue Bird, Insight, one would be missing the point because we are not in that space. Those are known as above-the-line or creative agencies. We are below the line, so there are two different industries, the regular traditional advertising agencies are the ones that use TV, radio, billboard, outdoor as their primary channel of communication. We use human beings to channel our communications. That is the first and striking difference. One hardly knows anybody in this space apart from the top agencies in our space like the EXP’s, Town Criers, Oracle, who are the top agencies in our space. But what differentiates us from every other agency is not so much of how we venerate because ideas do not rest in the head of one man. The entire industry is built on ideation, if one cannot ideate, it is like a medical doctor that does not know the difference between a syringe and a needle. Ideation, therefore, becomes the foundation of our industry. Again, how evolving is one able to link trend, marry insight with consumer centric behaviours, how one is able to track brand development and consumer evolvement on the day to day level because consumers and brands are always changing. Index resilience, brilliance, dealings and discipline, that is the difference. We are one of the fastest growing agencies in our space, the reason is the ability to find the right team. We do not compromise the company with team selection. We do not employ fellows who do not fit into our hub because it is a bit different.