Experts in the business of brands and marketing communications in Africa gathered recently to chart a new course for businesses targeting female consumers, on how best to reach and engage them in this challenging times. They also proffered solutions on how the female gender can maintain a work-life integration in their quest to smash the glass ceiling that seem to prevent them from reaching their peak in their different fields.
These were the key talking points at the annual Women in Marketing & Communications Conference/ Awards (WIMCA) held last Wednesday at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos. The theme for this year’s conference, “Women in Leadership: Building a strong Professional PIE (Performance, Image, and Exposure)” was crafted in line with this year’s theme of the International Women Day (IWD): “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.
The event which is in its fifth edition, is powered every year by Brand Communicator, a leading Brands and marketing publication in Nigeria. In his welcome address, the convener of WIMCA and publisher of Brand Communicator, Joshua Ajayi stressed that, “’women have been acknowledged as some of the most effective leaders during the pandemic, even when they remain woefully under-represented at all levels of decision-making worldwide.”
He added that Forum Research has revealed the efficacy of the ‘role model effect’ which is helping to close the gender gap. It is with this goal of expansion that platform will soon become pan-African.
His words: “Indeed, we are planning to expand this platform beyond a yearly one to a pan-African platform that will create a sustainable community that members can interact daily. Details on this plan would be released soon.”
In her presentation, the keynote speaker, CEO of Dentsu, Sub-Sahara Africa, Dawn Rowlands spoke on “Engaging Female Consumers in Challenging Times” . She stated that the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges have forced many businesses to evolve and look for better ways to connect with their consumers.
She explained that because of the pandemic, many women work from home, combining multiple roles from work and taking care of their family. She called on brands that understand this reality to look for suitable means to engage women creatively at this time.. She equally urged brands to allocate a reasonble chunk of their budget to gender balancing and women empowerment.
She added that women will be the greatest activists for change, and brands need to be on the lookout for ways to deliberately engage them.
The panelists who spoke in the session attested to the power of storytelling in engaging women and also revealed how their brands have keyed into trends to further arrest the attention of women.
The panelists are Ayodele Otujinrin, Head of Marketing, West Africa, Godrej; Iquo Ukoh, Managing Director, Entod Marketing; Ilyas Kazeem, Group Marketing Director, Eat ‘N’ Go Africa; and Charity Ilevbare, Category Lead (Life Care), Seven-Up Bottling Company and Bukola Shobowale, Business Director, Insight Publicis.
In the second segment , Victor Afolabi, GCEO, GDM Group who spoke on the sub-theme “Maximising work-life integration in the new norm and creating a personal brand beyond smashing the glass ceiling” said the world is faced with a ‘double disruption scenario, with automation and COVID-19, according to the World Economic Forum.
He explained that the barriers for work-life integration are lack of management support, the flexibility stigma, the presentism culture among others. To achieve work-life integration he advised that organisations should “prioritise, co-create, and compartmentalise personal time and delegate”
He added that “To progress beyond the glass ceiling in the workplace and into senior management positions, you must be intentional about who you are, what you do, and who you do it for. You must have extreme value in yourself that is, having a brand that elicits demand.”
Other speakers who equally shared insight during the session are Steve Babaeko, CEO, X3M Ideas; Adebola Williams, GM Marketing, UAC FOODS; Mr. Adebola Williams, Group CEO, Red For Africa; Funmilayo Falola, Head, Marketing Communications & Investor Relations, Wema Bank; and Tokunboh George Taylor, Managing Director, Hills+Knowlton Strategies.
In line with its culture of recognizing and rewarding deserving brands and female professionals in the IMC industry who have distinguished themselves in exemplary leadership, professionalism and contribution to the sector, WIMCA also recognised some outstanding ladies in the industry.
Olubunmi Oke, CEO of LadyBird Limited who was a former President of the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (AAAN) and Pioneer Managing Director of 141 Worldwide (now NITRO 121) was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for her many contributions to the IMC industry. Similarly, consummate marketing communications professional, Folake Ani-Mumuney, Chairman, Board of Directors of FBN Insurance also received the WIMCA Lifetime Achievement Award. The amiable Folake who also leads the marketing and communications function of FBN Holdings globally was also awarded for her contributions to the IMC sector over the years.
Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, MD/CEO of Fidelity Bank also bagged an award for the CEO of the year at WIMCA. Access Bank’s sustainability Amazon, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan who is Head of Sustainability for the Bank and Chima Afe, Group Head, Retail Marketing and Analytics for Access Bank were also recognized and awarded for their contributions in their various spaces.
Other individual awardees include Caroline Oghuma, Executive Head, MultiChoice Nigeria; Ayodele Otunjinrin, Head of Marketing, Godrej West Africa; Bridget Oyefeso, Head Marketing and Comms., Stanbic Bank; Cherry Eromosele, Group Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Interswitch; Sade Morgan, Corporate Affairs Director, NBC and Tolulope Adedeji, Marketing Director, Ab ‘In’ Bev, among others.
Aside individuals, deserving brands and organisations also had different recognitions as far marketing to, and impacting women to leadership is concerned. These brands and organisations include Access Bank, Mediafuse Dentsu International, Darling Hair, Knorr, FirstBank, LAPO Microfinance Bank, Molped, Mamador, Morning Fresh and Sunlight detergent.