‘A generational shift is defining ad agencies’ creative firepower’
• X3M Ideas wins continental crowns
The African Cristal Awards that held in Marrakech, Morocco, last weekend turned out a humbling experience for advertising egghead, as it nudged Nigerian agencies on the domain of African and global creative arena. While speaking to The Guardian on the continental awards, Chief Executive Officer of X3M Ideas, Mr. Steve Babaeko, whose agency was the only Nigerian shop that received Cristal ‘gold’ award plaque as the only mainstream winner from Nigeria, explained the agency’s propelling firepower.
According to him, “When we set up X3M Ideas, we didn’t plan to be second best to any other agency. We thought we could be the best. Today, the fact that we win at that pan-African level underscores all the dreams, all the aspirations we had at the inception of X3M Ideas.”
“Most agencies are wary of participating in such awards because of the huge cost. The award is not cheap; it’s quite expensive to feature entries in this award just like the Cannelions. Only a few agencies can afford it. When you consider the economy of the country, where most agencies are struggling to keep their heads above water, you will understand why only a handful of agencies submitted entries.”
X3M Ideas led other Nigerian agencies with one Cristal and one Emerald. It won Cristal with its work, Oando O-Gas Switch promo for Promo and Direct category and an Emerald under the same category with its Etisalat Super Recharge1.0. The agency also won another Emerald at the main events, making up three medals. It also got nominations for MultiChoice and other clients.
However, the CEO said if one were to consider the financial outlay involved against the exposure for staff and the learning arising from it, one would realise that it was a good decision, adding, “Again, it needs be pointed out that some agencies are still bugged down by this old-school mentality. They just think, ‘okay, the world stops in Nigeria.’ No, it doesn’t work like that; the world goes farther than Nigeria. When you have activities at the continental level like this, if you want to be a player to be reckoned with in the world, then you have to be at such events. It is not about showing off; it is in the line of our duty and growing our brand.”
Also, Babaeko pointed that the awards take guts and creativity to be a participant, adding, “Creativity is the currency of the business. Creative firepower is the in thing, if not you will just be donating money to charity. So most importantly, beyond everything else, the level of creativity you have in your agency and the kind of works you develop will determine your stand and qualification to contest for laurels at that continental level.
“The clients are not fools; neither are they deceived. They look out for all those brand health indicators – are you able to show up where your mates are showing up at the continental and global levels? If you are not there, then the client will probably think, ‘why should we work with this agency?’
Babaeko was excited at the fact that X3M Ideas was the only agency that won a real Cristal, noting, “The rest of it I leave to people to go and find out who won what? To be honest, I do not bother about position; we have always thought we are the best. This Cristal is a testament. It underscores the seismic shift that is happening in the industry. There is a shift of power; there is a generational shift as the younger agencies are exerting their creative firepower and influence. X3M Ideas is just four years old; not yet five, but believes in the power of possibility and a greater future for this industry.”