Not too long ago, Anthony Agenmonmen, a Fellow of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN) and immediate past president of the Institute, launched the Nigerian Marketing Awards (NMA). In this interview with Ehi Braimah, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Agenmonmen explained why he set up the awards. He also talked about his career at Nigerian Breweries Plc, the multi-national company where he spent over 32 years as a marketing strategist and life in retirement.
What would you say was the motivation to launch NMA?
The main motivation for Nigerian Marketing Awards® is the need to have in Nigeria, an international quality awards that is reputed for transparency and credibility. Even with the very few already existing awards, the marketing community was already getting awards weary because of general doubts about the quality of some of the awards. Quality in transparency and credibility, quality in execution. But the truth is that we do not even have enough awards for the size of the Nigerian market. But Nigerian Marketing Awards® is not just coming to add to the numbers, it is designed to uplift the overall quality of marketing awards in Nigeria.
Secondly, a few of the awards currently available cover only specialised segments of marketing. There is nothing wrong with that. But we wanted to have an award that will cover all aspects of marketing and bring the whole of the marketing community together under one roof.
What do you hope to achieve with the awards?
We believe that the very hard-working marketing professionals in Nigeria deserve to be well celebrated. This has great motivational effects on overall marketing practices as professionals work hard to be in the limelight every year. The healthy competition to get the accolades that come with being in the spotlight will challenge professionals to more creativity in concepts and executions.
Who can enter for the awards?
The awards are open to all marketing professionals and organisations in Nigeria. The broadest definition of marketing applies as all segments of marketing are covered.
Can you name similar awards in other parts of the world?
Marketing Excellence Awards – in many countries
CIM Marketing Awards
Tell us more about the Awards Trust Mark accreditation for NMA … what is the significance?
The Awards Trust Mark scheme is an international accreditation programme run by The Independent Awards Standards Council, based in the UK. The goal is, enhancing trust between those entering awards schemes, and the organisations running them. It is based around a voluntary code of conduct that awards organisers commit to.
To get accredited, the IASC carries out a rigorous evaluation and investigation of an awards processes and systems. They test for every element of transparency and credibility and only accredits awards that tick all the boxes.
Getting the accreditation is very important for us. Nigerian Marketing Awards® becomes the first in Nigeria and the entire region to get such accreditation. Thus, it puts our awards in the international limelight and reinforces our vision of becoming the biggest and most credible marketing awards in Nigeria.
How do you hope to protect the integrity of the awards?
We have assembled some of the finest well known and credible marketing professionals in Nigeria to form the Awards Decision Council that will evaluate all entries and determine winners. We have implicit confidence in the men and women in the Council to carry out their assignments with the highest level of integrity.
In addition, we have made it very clear to all our sponsors and potential sponsors that there is no link whatsoever between sponsoring and winning any of the awards. We are happy that they are all very happy at this level of transparency and credibility.
Your plan is for the awards to be “ethical, transparent and fair”. In that case, how do you intend to manage the interests of sponsors that also submit entries for the awards? Wouldn’t that be a conflict of interest?
Firstly, we have a very independent Awards Decision Council whose decisions are final. Even as founder, I cannot interfere. All members of the Council have signed on to a Code of Conduct and non-disclosure agreement. They have signed to disclose any potential conflict of interest and where any such arises, the concerned person will be excused from being part of the judges for that category.
We have mutual understanding with all our sponsors that the sponsorship entitles them to the exposures and publicity guaranteed in the sponsorship agreements. Our sponsors like any others are free to submit entries. Wining or not wining has absolutely nothing to do with whether one sponsored or did not sponsor.
Given your rich experience in marketing management and wide network in the industry, are you satisfied with the level of support and sponsorship received so far for the awards?
It has been a most interesting experience. Given the current economic challenges, it did look at some point that it might be difficult to pull it through. But we knew we had a great concept and were determined to bring it to life. We made presentations after presentations, physically and virtually. I must say we were very much encouraged by the very positive feedbacks we got from all the marketing professionals we presented to. The only common question we got everywhere was if we could indeed deliver on the promise. We were confident in saying yes and we remain very confident.
Support from the industry has come in different dimensions. We have the endorsements and representation of the following sectoral groups: NIMN, ARCON, AAAN, EXMAN and OAAN. This is a first in the industry as far as marketing awards are concerned. We have received great feedbacks from many in the industry that have enriched the final output. Invariably, everything said, we require money. Many have decided to take a leap of faith with us in supporting us. We deeply appreciate them. Some are still deciding. Some have not been able to support us this time and we also appreciate them. We are confident that they will be with us in subsequent editions.
Entries will close on September 30, 2022. How would you describe the level of entries received to date? Is it satisfactory?
Entries are coming in and the website is being visited heavily daily with many downloads of the entry forms. But we are also prepared to handle the envisaged rush in the remaining two weeks.
Can you explain how winners of each category will emerge?
Once entries are submitted, the Awards Decision Council will do the evaluation of each entry and conclude on the top 3 in each category. They will further drill down from there to get the winner.
The little exception will be the Brand of the Year where the final winner after the Council’s shortlist will be determined by public online voting.
How do you intend to manage giving out 31 awards in one night so that the event does not lose its flavour?
We are working with some of the best professional hands in the industry and every detail will be worked out to ensure there are no dull moments.
Would the awards night be ticketed, or it will be by special invitation?
For this maiden edition, it will be by special invitation only.
How many guests would be attending the awards night on November 11?
We expect a physical audience of about 250 – 300. But our online community that will be watching that night will be large. We are also exploring opportunities for live telecast of the event.
There is an award for “Best Social Responsibility” campaign which, from all indications, is targeted at commercial organisations. Is this true? If yes, how can nonprofit organisations enter for the awards?
That is not entirely correct. Nothing precludes non-profit organisations from entering for that category. We admit though that it might be a bit tough for them to compete with commercial organisations. However, there is yet another category “Best Public Sector Marketing of the Year” which is also available to non-profit organisations.
Do you think there are categories that were not listed and announced for the awards but, on reflection, ought to be there? Do you plan to increase the number of awards in the future?
I believe we have covered sufficiently the relevant categories. However, this being our maiden awards, we will review after this year’s edition. Where we need to add we will add, and where we need to drop, we will drop. What is important every time is to have the widest coverage of the industry in a manageable way that the awards are not diluted or boring.
The NMA Advisory Board and Decision Council are made up of distinguished professionals with enviable track record in the marketing communications industry. How were you able to convince them to support the vision of NMA?
I am very proud of the high calibre of professionals in both the Advisory Board and the Awards Decision Council. Not one person that I approached turned it down. We were very clear in our vision and the road map for its realisation was also clear. That helped. Besides that, I guess that they also trust our credibility and therefore willing to stake their own reputation. That is quite a huge burden on us to ensure that we do not disappoint them.
You have positioned NMA to be similar in stature and reputation to the Grammys and Oscars. What is your plan for NMA to become an enduring legacy?
Awards can be controversial. Many awards get into controversy and become short-lived because of credibility issues. Therefore, for us, the first and most important thing is to have sustained credibility. Once we can establish that, every other thing will follow. That is why we have assembled the kind of team that we have, that is why we have the entire industry involved. That is why we have opened our processes to international evaluation and hence received the accreditation, which is first in the region.
We will need to build a structure such that can outlive us and that will sustain the vision of being the biggest and most credible marketing awards in Nigeria.
Working at Nigerian Breweries for more than 32 years was an exceptional opportunity to build great brands. Tell us about your career path in the multi-national company and share some of your exciting moments.
Well, I enjoyed every bit of my career at Nigerian Breweries. I had the privileged of mentorship by the great Elder Felix Ohiwerei. I also had the privilege of working with highly professional and dedicated colleagues with whom we built great brands in NB portfolio. Nigerian Breweries provided me the opportunity to travel around the world on marketing training programmes or international attachment.
The work itself was challenging but quite exciting. Like we use to say then, there was “never a dull moment”. The highpoints of my career at NB have been well captured in my book “Excellence Is Not By Luck”, available on Amazon as e-book.
What have you been doing in retirement before you launched NMA?
Well since retirement, I have been into marketing consulting and a little bit of farming. But in-between, I spent quite some time to rescue and reposition the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria as president from 2016 to 2021.
What else would you like to tell us about the Nigerian Marketing Awards?
We really would like the Nigerian Marketing Awards® to be the reference point in the country in terms of credibility and organisation. We would like the marketing community to see it as their own project that provides a unique platform for celebrating themselves and their handwork at least once in a year.