In a chat with The Spark, Oluwafemi Odukoya, the Public Relations Officer and Spokesperson for Orange Academy fills us in on the impact the academy has had on the advertising industry by producing top-notch creative talent.
Orange Academy is the first practical school for integrated brand experience and idea management in Africa. In terms of impact, we have done very well for the Advertising industry.
As a school that is set up with the sole objective of raising local minds that will tell the stories of global brands, we have churned out a good number of products.
From the point of quantity, we have over 5000 alumni and in terms of quality, out of this number, many have done great exploits across varying fields and professions.
We also have many at the level of country managers, marketing managers and some are even entrepreneurs or social entrepreneurs as the case may be; they own businesses and tell brand stories through what they do.
A few are outside the shores of Nigeria and they have done so well to the point of getting international acknowledgment or awards.
Some have done so well that they have been able to reinvent the wheel of conventions; of how things are done and able to come up with noble ideas that have changed the landscape.
A Vital Skill
Storytelling is something very important to every human being, regardless of whatever you do. This interview is a form of storytelling; we all tell stories in varying forms and mediums.
For us at Orange, stories are a way of sharing experiences that people have had, are having or the ones, perhaps, they might be about to have. So, as Africans, it is something that has been missing in this part of the world.
We have, in the past, had stories that border on what the West chooses to say about us.
For us, it is quite integral in marketing communications that we share resonating brand stories that will stimulate the right reaction from the target consumer.
So, communication is not complete if you are not telling an authentic story about your brand. It is the lifeline of any form of communication.
Well, ‘out-of-the-box’ is a parlance that I can dare say we came up with, particularly within the Nigerian advertising landscape, for a number of years.
But right now, we have gone beyond out-of-the-box thinking and now encourage our people to think beyond the box.
But in the context of the question, creativity, communication, and strategy should be beyond limits.
The only thing that, perhaps, should be reckoned with are the socio-cultural dynamics of the environment where you find yourself or of the business you are trying to tell its story.
For advertising in Nigeria, there shouldn’t be conventional limitations to what advertisers should do. Yes, we should have set guidelines so we conform with globally accepted standards.
But we shouldn’t have some form of convention that will backdate to the pre-colonial era with mundane equipment.
Now, we all know the world is a global village with the advent of social media, coupled with the innovations we have in the areas of technology.
More importantly, we will need to equip our hands and mind in such a way that we can strike a balance and compete favorably with our counterparts in other parts of the world.
The Nigerian Creative Space
It is growing; it is not fully tapped or developed but if you look back some 5 – 10 years ago, it is clear that we have grown in leaps and bounds in terms of the amount of resources that have been deployed.
Again, in the area of the quality of minds and hands, there has been a great improvement.
What we used to have were a few trained minds and limited agencies that had the capacity to handle a couple of multinational brands.
But now, we have agencies that are about 5-years old and have the capacity to handle world-class brands. It shows improvement and a lot of potential embedded in the Nigerian creative space.
But we need to still do a lot more: We need to encourage more of local content, make the environment more conducive, empower institutions, programmes and academies and make the environment more enabling for learning.
Partnership with Vega School
The partnership between Orange Academy and Vega School in South Africa is more of a mutual relationship and also symbiotic in nature. We both respect and identify with what we represent.
For us in Orange Academy, what we are set out to do is sharpen local minds that will tell resonating global stories that the whole world will accept. Vega also shares a similar identity with what we are poised to do.
What the partnership has brought so far is to bring hands-on experience from the work environment beyond what we teach within the walls of the classroom.
Again, for us, it is not just enough for you to learn, we also encourage you to unlearn what you have learned in the past that is not pragmatic or no longer applicable.
So Vega brings in practical workplace experience and the challenges they face in the course of their profession.
On a personal note, there are various hobbies and activities that I unwind with. But generally speaking, in the academy, we don’t work hard, we work smart.
We find time to create some form of relaxation because when you are mentally fatigued, your productivity also drops. For me, I read whatever fascinates me. It could be on history, politics, or even brand experiences.
Then, I love music, movies and I also love to party because when you work hard, there’s nothing wrong in also playing hard!
Editorial Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.