In this interview with FUNSHO AROGUNDADE, the young media entrepreneur fondly called “Ayeni The Great” gives a rare peek into digital marketing agency ID Africa, his latest business venture, which will see a spread of the BHM Group’s clientele and content across more nations on the African continent
Q: How did BHM Group begin?
A: BHM Group started in 2006, while I was still a reporter, from my two-bedroom flat in Akute (Lagos). My wife and I had no furniture so I bought a small chair and table, and could only afford to pay someone to assemble a computer. We started out working for musicians, actors and record labels that had smaller budgets, so it was tough but fulfilling work.
A few years later, my friend Ayo Animashaun (owner of Hip TV and The Headies) gave me a desk in his office from where BHM operated. Eventually, we had to rent our own office space and today we have 60 employees and various consultants across the world. In 2009 we began working for corporate clients, and they tapped into the experience we had built with entertainers and young people. It has never happened in Nigeria that an organisation with experience solely in entertainment – working for artistes and actors – to begin working for various multinationals. That’s our story and we are proud of it.
Q: You recently launched ID Africa, a digital agency and subsidiary of the BHM Group? What do you hope to achieve?
A: With Digital Marketing, disparate uptake rates exist. Brands across regions in Africa are very late to the party, while those trying to get into the party are not in the appropriate attire; I mean they are not using the right tools to speak to, or listen to the people. Africa is a continent of up to 2,000 languages from numerous tribes, with over 1 billion people becoming increasingly globalised, yet retaining the peculiarities that categorise their individual heritages – the status quo is changing. We all know that the latest arrivals to a party can still make the atmosphere electric, so this is an opportunity for practitioners.
We are fortunate to have an extensive understanding, based on our PR background, about people who consume and publish content on the Internet. We know what they are looking for, so we have an understanding of how to use that social space better to create the kind of conversations that can help people meet each other and have a nice time, whether it’s a brand meeting the consumer or just consumers interacting, or even brands needing to engage with each other.
ID Africa is the digital agency that can make this happen because it is not just a service agency; more of Africa’s audiences need to be communicated with and listened to via channels and outlets that best conform to their social, cultural and personal proclivities.
Q: So, what are your experiences as you roll out ID Africa with more continental clients?
A: I cannot divulge research data we have obtained at prohibitive costs, but I will share some insights.
A: To successfully communicate with the diverse audiences and demographics that constitute Africa’s cities and navigate the sociocultural nuances therein, all brands- entertainment or corporate- must treat the term media very loosely. If I can get on a Mutatu in Nairobi or a Danfo in Lagos and speak to 50 passengers, and try to get them to try or understand my new product, then that bus as far as ID Africa is concerned, is as valid a media vehicle as social media is in Johannesburg.
I’ve always loved success stories. Especially when the road forth was fraught with intrigues, challenges and circumstantial obstacles. The gist is usually sweeter to listen to then.
When most others told you it couldn’t be done, you turned a deaf ear and kept your eye on the prize.
When they thought you were way too ambitious to want succeed in the spheres about which your peers hadn’t even dared to dream, you actualised it.
When you toiled without a hoot for your health (even though I did, and will continue to nag you about it!), braved each weather and fell under a number of times, you got right back up, dusted yourself off and didn’t look back.
When despite those early circumstances that augured otherwise, you not only decided from the get-go what you were going to become, you actually declared it. Truly today, it has come to pass.
The alias/moniker – AyeniTheGreat – which you’ve proudly worn like a badge for as long as I have known you, (and which I’d found a tad conceited at first) has metamorphosed before my very eyes, into what you have truly become today.. GREAT.
I’m glad I was privileged to witness pretty much the entire plot. And I couldn’t be more proud of you, AYENI ADEKUNLE SAMUEL, a.k.a AYENI THE GREAT. Congratulations. The world is yours.
Yorubas say it well: “Ehinkule l’ota wa. Inu’le ni aseni ngbe”.
Nigeria and Nigerians are losing on all fronts because of leaders we didn’t prepare for the assignments we are giving them. Every child should be trained please. Everyone should be prepared with the right formal and informal education. We never know what we will become tomorrow… Continue reading…
My roommate and fellow S Man @doyinadesida’s birthday. Our room in a face-me-I-face-you apartment at No 21 Major Salawu, Agbowo-UI. The UI years, when I went to bed hungry almost every night. Where I lost count of how many times our landlord Ajetunmobi locked us out for failing to pay rent. The UI years, where it was Doyin that ended up paying the rent most times and it was Muyiwa Ajayi-Bembe who provided lunch or dinner until Dotun Asipa whose pocket money was a whopping N5000 came into the picture. The UI years where friends Nicknamed me Sufferman and laughed non stop when I called myself Ayeni TheGreat. The worst years ever prepared me for the best years. Thank you UI and the many men and women who made those years!