A toast to Steve Babaeko’s 20 years of creative innovation

Steve Babaeko

Steve Babaeko

From absolutely nothing, Steve Babaeko has built one of the most thriving advertising agencies X3M (Extreme) Ideas and record label, X3M (Extreme) Music in Nigeria. He left home in Kaduna at 16 on a journey to face the world, with a dream to accomplish feats, be successful, impact on others and make other people more successful.

Armed with a certificate in Theatre Arts from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, his path led him to Lagos with just five hundred naira, but there was nowhere to stay in the mega city. The challenges of getting a job in a city where he knew no one did not hinder him from his goal. Today, he is one of the successful advertising gurus and record label owners in Nigeria.

From a young copywriter at MC&A Saatchi & Saatchi, Babaeko, developed his creative reputation that help moved to Prima Garnet Ogilvy and later 141 Worldwide, where he was Nigeria’s most celebrated business/creative director before his resignation in 2012 to pave way for X3M Ideas, an advertising agency, which has grown to be one of the forerunners in the Nigerian advertising industry.

With a career spanning over 20 years and immense contributions to the growth and evolution of Nigerian advertising and entertainment industries, nurturing individuals and building brands through impressive advertising campaigns for indigenous and international brands alike.

Despite all odds, Babaeko as CEO and Chief Creativity Officer of X3M Ideas to become a brand to reckon with locally and internationally. At the 2015 edition of Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival Awards (LAIF), X3M Ideas carted away eight awards — three gold, two silver and three bronze medals to emerge third on the overall medals table.

The gold medals were won in three categories — Ads that never ran (Virgin Atlantic Radio), Corporate Image (Diamond Bank Doors) and Best use of Original Photography (Lagos Photo). The silver medals were for Diamond Bank doors commercials and Easy Clip Cypher Radio creative, while the bronze medals were for the Etisalat Prize for Literature (Short Film), Jollification Dog – Ads that never ran and Western Union Radio Just So you know – Ads that never ran.

According to him, “we set up this agency to be number one and until we become number one, don’t congratulate me. We are still the most creative agency in this country, whether they give us the grand prix or not it doesn’t matter,” he said in an interview shortly after the awards.

An avid music lover, Babaeko’s never allowed his advancement in the realisation of life dream to stop at advertising. He ventured into the world of entertainment and created X3M Music, which is home to some of the Nigeria’s respected musicians like R&B singer and MTN Project Fame 2009 runner-up, Praiz Adejo and Jamb Question crooner, Simisola Bolatito well known as Simi, while the label has also worked with Ade Bantu, Nneka Egbuna aka Nneka.

For him, X3M Music is a way of encouraging young people who have dreams and ambitions and who are not able to realise it. “The motivation is to be able to encourage myself first and foremost, encourage young people and encourage other people to be able to find their voices. What we do as a music label is take a literally unknown artiste, make him or her a national icon that people recognise and reckon with.”

“Music is kind of a social responsibility to me because I give the artistes a platform to explore their talents and explode. There are so many young people who believe that being in paid employment alone is not going to solve the problem of unemployment. If mountain won’t go to Mohammed, then Mohammed should go to the mountain. If we have a situation in our country where 160 million people and government is not able to cater for people, we are not going to roll over and die.
As young people, we need to take over the gauntlet and take our destiny into our hands and begin to think of positive ways of earning a living without going into crime or some unsavoury ways that some other people might want to consider. Always look inward and keep pushing. You may face disappointment but devise a means to overcome and endure till the end of the journey,” he added.

To celebrate his creative innovation and indomitable spirit of enterprise and conquest, the social entrepreneur will today be hosted to a ‘Taste of Luxury’ by Chivas Regal, world’s first luxury whisky, through its ‘Win the Right Way Campaign’ that celebrates outstanding personalities who have excelled in their fields of endeavor and touched lives in the process.

Weekend Beat gathered that luxury whisky will not only be celebrating the creative powerhouse for his entrepreneurial spirit, but also for his spirit of generosity through the lives, businesses and communities he has impacted through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives including school renovations at Opebi Junior High School, Awuse Estate, Opebi, and Special Correctional Centres for Boys in Oregun; donation of ICT equipment to Oregun Senior High School, Oregun and Community High School, Wasimi, Maryland, all in Ikeja, Lagos.

‘Taste of Luxury’ is Chivas brand’s effort to showcase its attributes of connoisseur, and Steve Babaeko is seen as an unquestionable embodiment of the ‘Taste of Luxury’ character. He equally, demonstrates what luxury whisky stands for as he exemplifies the ‘Success Tastes Better When Shared’ slogan of the Win the Right Way Chivas Campaign.

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