Maurice Ugwunoh - the spark youth empowerment platforms in Nigeria

Maurice Ugwunoh


As Creative Director at Noah’s Ark Communications, one of Nigeria’s most celebrated advertising agencies, Maurice Ugwunoh works across the agency’s elite teams to provide direction and creative leadership supports the teams need to design outstanding marketing communications campaigns.


Jingle Bells…

He tells us how he fell in love with the world of advertising. “Growing up, a lot of ads were mostly music driven or what we call jingle commercials today.

Even though jingles are my least liked form of advertising because I honestly think they are lazy routes agencies use to get out of tight corners and they are rarely treated properly as theme music, I recall loving the jingles of my wonder years. The first that readily comes to mind is Coca Cola’s ‘Tomorrow’s People’.

It was such a powerful music of hope back then. I’ve always been captivated by cartoons and animation, so AP’s Super Visco Static Engine Oil ad owns a huge duplex in my mind followed by Trebor variant ad showcasing the Trebor Tigers.

Even today, I’m yet to find a compelling ad that used hard sell the way the Thermocool Man did. Lastly, how can I ever forget that intoxicating Daily Need Fluoride Toothpaste Ad?”


On Campaigns

Every organisation has a unique modus operandi and Noah’s Ark is no different. Maurice shares with us, “Like a doctor would want to know his patient’s medical history or an attorney would inquire a client’s criminal background if any, Noah’s Ark always investigates its client’s brand communication past to ascertain what equity the brand in question has that can further be built upon.

Other need-to-know information would be the client’s brand positioning in the market, its competition and direct consumers among other critical details.”

Data is Life

The fundamental objective of the Airtel 4G campaign was simple as it was daunting. The task placed before the Noah’s Ark team was this – Make Airtel the widest/largest data subscribed network in Nigeria.

To make this task more impossible to achieve, Airtel’s leadership expressed their desire to pull off the campaign without showing a single mobile phone or any 4G technologies.

If nothing else had, this drove the final nail in the coffin as a suicidal undertaking for any agency.

With just three TV commercials which also served as online videos as well as an integrated armada of digital, radio and out-of-home communication, the campaign garnered an average of 1.5 Million views on Youtube and over 2 million views on Facebook within the first 4 weeks after launch.

The campaign generated 83% consumer interaction and engagement across platforms.

However, beyond the media impression wins, Airtel 4G did the near impossible of driving Nigerians to switch in droves from 3G to 4G.

A little under 3 months after the campaign launch, Airtel experienced 13.7% increase in 4G upgrades and over 1.1 million new data subscribers, earning Airtel the title of the network with the widest 4G network coverage and subscriber base in Nigeria for 2018/2019.


In a society where people are largely stuck in their old ways that still delivered results, convincing Nigerians to switch from 3G to 4G was a tall order indeed. After all; old habits, they say, die-hard. S

o, instead of showing the functional benefits of speed like every other Nigerian telecommunications network did in selling their 4G technologies, Noah’s Ark opted to show the incremental benefits of moving to Airtel 4G without discrediting its 3G technology that everyone was used to.

He explains, “This was very difficult to achieve. But as Noah’s Ark has done countlessly for Airtel in the past, we pulled off a huge winning idea.

To communicate 4G for Airtel, we used simple analogies. We created the campaign message “3G is Great, 4G is Better”.

This Noah’s Ark team promoted for Airtel through a campaign spearheaded by a series of short videos aimed at encouraging subscribers to move from 3G to 4G by directly pitting conventional habits with newer and much better ways of doing things.

The campaign results as detailed above speak for the campaign. And all these were achieved without showing a single mobile phone or 4G technologies in the entire campaign.”

SMEs and Achieving Total Recall

Speaking on how SMEs can achieve total recall despite financial constraints, Maurice says, “The more constrained the communication budget is, the more pressure on the capacity of creativity to save the day.

If the prevailing objective is to stand out distinctively in a saturated market, then the key bail out is for the SME in question would be to partner with an agency that recognizes the firm’s potential for growth and supports the actualization of this growth.

There certainly is no need for a firm to consider mammoth communication channels such as TV ads if the budget cannot justify such undertaking.

The genius stroke here would be for the agency to execute for the firm, the most resounding cost-effective strategic message and idea that would repeatedly and consistently, optimize brand engagement experience with the target audience at moments and places where the target is most susceptible to the message.

Believe this…the war is won and lost in your consumer’s mind. And once you are able to make a positive impression and you follow it up with incremental messages that fascinate the mind, you would have won a considerable mindshare of your target audience, no matter how small your budget is.

This is what Noah’s Ark would do and does for its SME clients. And that, ladies and gentlemen is how you earn Total Recall.


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

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