Amaechi Okobi - the spark youth empowerment platforms in Nigeria

Amaechi Okobi

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Amaechi Okobi is the Group Head, Marketing Communications for Access Bank. He shares with us how the bank has achieved Total Recall and the values that are communicated through their advertising.

 

Background

The brand management and marketing communications space has held me captive for as long as I can remember. My career started at Revlon (the cosmetics giant based out of New York) where I worked on some pretty dynamic lip, face and eye products.

I returned home to Nigeria 15 years ago and got a job at Nigerian Breweries as Brand Manager, Gulder shortly after completing the mandatory National Youth Service.

Next was a stint on the Events & Sponsorship desk at Globacom, and another at Diageo where I managed the Smirnoff and then Johnnie Walker brands.

By the time I got the call from Access Bank to come in for a conversation, I was ready for a new adventure. The banking industry and financial services was an entirely different kettle of fish from what I was used to.

Where cosmetics and alcohol products were perceived as sexy and fun, banking struck me as conservative, serious, heavily regulated and definitely intimidating.

The opportunity to be part of, and play a role in a whole new industry was intriguing, and a little (okay, a lot) scary at the same time.

 

My Job Is…

In one word, exhilarating. Banking is not boring, and Access Bank is not your garden variety bank or brand. I am surrounded by incredibly talented individuals at work, and this demands I bring my A-game to the table at every single turn.

That aside, however, there’s a special kind of rush you get when you are doing something you truly love. Something that challenges you to surpass expectations every time.

Each day I walk up the stairs and into 999C Danmole Street, I learn something new. Lessons about banking, teamwork, resilience.

I have met and broken bread with people with the most fascinating stories about hard work and success. Stories about failure, and never giving up.

 

Winning Strategies

With regard to winning strategies, my team and I plan, making sure we cover the basics. From research to planning to execution, we follow our plan to the letter.

Using our market research, we drive proper market segmentation which ensures our campaigns reach the right target audience.

We also track our ad campaigns constantly to gauge impact and, where necessary, do some tinkering. Most importantly, we put the interests of our customers at the centre of our campaigns.

A winning strategy is one that positively enhances the brand affinity, love and loyalty in the minds and hearts of our customers – current and future.

 

Achieving Total Recall

The key is to drive brand love and affinity with each campaign. Our customers and shareholders are ‘kings and queens’ so we must treat them as such.

They want information at their fingertips and to be a part of every single decision that is made. We achieve this by using every available channel to engage and communicate.

We engage our customers on social media and maintain top-of-mind awareness through this platform.

One of our core values is ‘Passion for customers,’ and this is evident in the personalized service every customer experiences. Likewise, our marketing communications objective is to always align with our customers’ needs.

 

Our Advertising Speaks

Our values are leadership, excellence, professionalism, passion for customers and innovation. All these values are communicated in our advertising.

I just mentioned our passion for customers and how we put them first in everything we do, including our communication.

The days of sitting behind a computer devising strategy and marketing campaigns are long gone.

At least they should be. It is cliché but the consumer really doesn’t care about products, they care about solutions. They care about the solutions our products provide.

They want their lives made easier. So, it is critical that we understand Wale, Nkiru, Tinuke, Hassan, Nnamdi and Alima.

What are their drivers? What keeps them awake at night? Our ongoing ‘Access More’ campaign is primarily based on the life journey and lifestyle needs of our customers.

So, we charge customers to Access More – more information, more security, more opportunities.

We also try to ensure that our advertising is fresh, trendy, fun and emotive. Advertising that catches your attention and is something you immediately relate to.

 

Managing Communications Over the Merger

There were a lot of stories already in the media so communication was quite a challenge to manage. Remember Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine?’

As early as late November, the grapevine was abuzz with news of a potential merger. News travels fast, and with social media, the speed was blinding.

Everyone had a view. The thing with sensitive news on a corporate level is that you must get in front of it and own it.

Or risk losing control. We had to manage content that was going out while monitoring content already available.

We also had to manage all our stakeholders’ perceptions and expectations: employees, customers, regulators, investors, shareholders.

We first needed to understand all the parties that were trying to make sense of what was happening, and how they felt the merger could affect them.

Then we took them on a journey, revealing each phase, piece by piece, using every channel and platform available.

We ran ad campaigns, hosted town hall sessions, went on road shows, published newsletters, for both customers and employees.

It was easier to manage communications this way as each stakeholder was equipped with enough information leading up to the merger, and the unveiling of the new identity.

 

Editorial Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.

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