As Portfolio Manager, non-alcoholic drinks, Nigerian Breweries, Ngozi Nkwoji lives and breathes brands. She shares with us how she discovered her storytelling side and takes us through the DNA of a brand that achieves Total Recall.
By Sharon-Ann Adaigbe
Storytelling from the Start
Right from the moment, she walked into the studio, Ngozi Nkwoji regaled us with one tale after another, in her element as a master storyteller. It was evident that she was very comfortable with weaving words into tales that get her listeners hooked.
“I remember when I was about 12 years old. My mum called me down to the living room where a bunch of aunties were gathered.
She said, “Nne, tell Aunty about how that usher was walking in church yesterday and what she was saying”. She said this while stifling laughter.
There I was, my skinny self, mimicking this usher who, by the way, walked like she was a pantomime doll, and all my aunties burst into laughter.
This was just one out of many episodes where I realized that everyone loved to listen when I told the stories of experiences we shared together. So, I grew up telling stories and realized that it seemed to come naturally to me.
I am a woman passionate about spirituality, women, black culture, music, and all forms of freedom. I have been lucky to learn from amazing people and hope to pay it forward by also sharing my knowledge when I can.”
The Path to Marketing
Ngozi went on to describe how she ended up in a people-facing role, Marketing, even though she studied I.T for her first degree.
“I went on to university to study Information Technology because well … computers were emerging in Africa and we were all going crazy about them.
In retrospect, I am glad I did study I.T because it allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and explore another side of me that was otherwise buried and this is something required to succeed.
Well, after I started working in I.T, pretty much all the people I related with were within the marketing function in my company. A position opened up in marketing and someone said, ‘Ngozi, you know this is for you right?’
Well, I applied and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Nigerian Breweries and Story-telling
Ngozi found it very interesting to hear “story-telling” mentioned in the questions because it is a mantra at NBplc. “Our briefs to agencies are actually called “storytelling briefs” ☺ and we believe that people do not forget great stories.
In this world full of noise where the poor “consumer” is being targeted by EVERYONE; especially when you’re a millennial (the most sought after group right now), it is important that your strategy includes telling them stories that they want to hear or even care to hear.
Our brands have told some of the greatest stories via music, reality shows, advertising, and even PR and one thing is paramount; that it is all consumer inspired.”
Defining a Successful Campaign
A smile plays across her lips as she talks about a past campaign that is still dear to her heart. “The Heineken brand campaign with Jidenna was one of my heart campaigns.
I truly enjoyed working with a cross-functional team of amazing people to create an ad that brought the Heineken brand closer to the heart of consumers and reminded them that even though Heineken was born in Amsterdam, it’s raised by the world.
Success is measured based on a number of factors but two of them for me tell me that people appreciate the work. First, how many times have people shared the content you created (not likes, not paid, but earned media)?
Second, how much talkability did the campaign get? These usually, eventually, have an effect on sales and brand love.”
Advertising and the Bottomline
When companies are struggling, some executives believe the marketing budget should be the first thing to be chopped but this is exactly the thing not to do. She tells us why it’s a bad idea.
“Advertising puts your brand in the heart and mind of consumers. It creates Top of Mind Awareness which inevitably is activated when purchasing decisions are made.
This, of course, means though that the other things like product, price, and presence should be good as well. Advertising works in tandem with other indices to help the bottom line.”
With so much going on, brands need to stand out in this age of distractions and achieve total recall. Ngozi tells us how. “Do it your own way. Your content needs to be OWNABLE.
If I see your ad, but I can simply replace your product with another brand and the story still works, then rethink it. Ownable content is so important in this time of low recall and grasshopper attention spans.
Your content will only trend for a short period so ensure that I can attribute it to your brand when it’s seen.”
She has a word for SMEs who do not have a large budget but still want to leave a mark in consumers’ minds.
“Always have an objective for any campaign. Do not say, ‘I just want people to know me.’ What should they know you for?
If you sell hair extensions, for example, decide what emotional need the consumer has and fill it. It could be the need to be associated with a celebrity, so use a celebrity ambassador.
It could be, ‘I don’t like celebrities because they think they are better than us’, so make it affordable and do a photo shoot with young simple girls across various walks of life.”
The Juggling Game
It’s clear that she enjoys her job; she has been part of the NBplc family for 14 years now. When asked what she loves about her job, she doesn’t even think twice.
“The results! Seeing our product on the table and someone going on, actually discussing the content they saw.”
As a busy professional, Ngozi Nkwoji admits that there is never enough time for all that needs to be done. “Man and woman … we all have to juggle busy professional lives.
That said, I have my YouTube show “The Ngee Show” and while I have slowed down on posting it, I have found that #LiveYourBestLife is such an awesome mantra.
I do me. It is important to prioritize without apologies. God. Family. Work. Friends. Music. Travel.
I sing in the choir and attend practice twice a week. I try to travel at least once a quarter, with at least two of these trips with family.
I work even remotely. I dance pretty much every day. I post videos as often as I can and don’t beat myself up when I don’t.
Ultimately, there will never be enough time so I have found my rhythm and just stay humble in the entire process.”
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.