Tolulope Medebem, one of Nigeria’s foremost Experiential Marketing professionals, is the founder and Managing Director of Aster Integrated Marketing Limited (AIML), a marketing communications and experiential marketing agency.
With almost two decades of experience spanning Experiential Marketing, Event Management, Brand Management & Marketing, she has the honour of being one of the pioneer females in this field and has been instrumental towards the achievement of many successful campaigns on behalf of big-ticket clients.
In this interview, she reviews the industry, especially the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic and the new normal which this has thrown up; highlighting her agency’s smooth-sailing credentials in the face the Coronavirus turbulence; and how it (the agency) is charting its way into an assured future.
We’d like you to share with us how your agency has been steadily riding the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic.What has it been like?
The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted everything and it still is, especially as we all honestly need to keep safe as well as ensure we keep those around us safe. With everyone doing their own bit, we will get over this hopefully soon.
For the agency, as with most other businesses, honestly, it has not been easy; BUT we keep at it, moving along and taking it, one day at a time. Thankful everyday for those clients that still believe in the value AsterIML brings to the table by giving us the opportunity to keep on serving their various brands (even in these times, of course, being creative and innovative in service delivery right now as it’s not business as usual).
What do you consider to be the “new normal” in Experiential Marketing practice and business, courtesy of COVID-19?
It obviously is not business as usual right now; and the new normal essentially means that we all need to be more creative and innovative in delivering service value to our various clients in ways that ensure everyone right from your team through to the consumers and your client is kept as safe as possible. As much as we need to connect and engage with the consumers, safety becomes imperative at every point.
How are Nigerian Experiential Marketing agencies adapting to the “new normal”?
I imagine they would all have to answer this themselves right. Not sure I should be holding brief for the Nigerian Experiential Marketing agencies, or what do you think?
Truth though, we are a very resilient bunch and I know that we will all find and are finding ways to ensure that we as agencies remain relevant to our various clients by offering them tangible value.
To what extent has Experiential Marketing gone digital in this clime?
Digital obviously goes beyond the use of social media and essentially encompasses running digital throughout the entire agency operations – IoT, Data, Technology, and so on. So today, in the era of online meetings, virtual parties and so on, elements that have always been instrumental to creating live experiences BUT today, they have become the ‘heart and soul’ of creating live experiences that connect and engage. So, I believe, it’s something that most, if not all, have incorporated into their operating systems and processes.
What is your assessment of and forecasts for the IMC industry, in general, and the Experiential Marketing sub sector, in particular, in 2021?
The world is evolving that means essentially that economies, all over the world, are evolving, obviously that would include Nigeria. So as Nigeria evolves, her economy evolves, all industries, not limited to marketing communications evolve as well. Therefore, I would honestly say, we all should be patient, relax and watch to see how this evolution affects us all – good, bad, restructuring and so many various ways.
What are companies’ Experiential Marketing budgets like in this pandemic era?
Not sure how I’m expected to honestly know or even answer that (smiles). Everyone is evolving as we mentioned earlier and based on the future-fit seminar from you guys late last year, part of what we learnt and I believe everyone is trying to incorporate is a better engagement with the consumer, understanding their pain and passion points in such a way that the brand is ‘seen’ as emphatic, so not so much about the budget BUT about how the consumer is impacted.
What are your agency’s strategic offerings to your clients this year as a force behind them?
At least, let’s hold somethings to our chest (wide smile). Bottomline, we come as partners to and with all our clients knowing and understanding that whatever affects them, affects us, too. We are professionals and we try to remain true to our values – Integrity, Professionalism and ‘Consumer-centrism’ (if that’s an actual word). We are also very true to ourselves and whatever we don’t know, we are open and willing to learn.
Where do you see the Experiential Marketing industry in the foreseeable future?
As we are all currently experiencing, especially with digital technology, most have gotten to the point where new skill sets, including content development and management,are needed in order to remain relevant and of value to your client and to do this, new skill sets as mentioned earlier, brilliant minds whether experienced or inexperienced will come together to make magic that connects with and engages the consumers on ALL SENSES.
What is your definition/description of an Experiential Marketing agency of the future (i.e a future-fit Experiential Marketing agency)?
I’m thinking my answer above pretty much covered it. For me, it’s an agency that is agile and flexible.
What is unique about AsterIML?
My team is very young and they are hungry. They want to ‘change the world’; I find myself needing to reign them in most times because we would obviously need to be conscious of our surroundings, the client’s budget, and what can ‘realistically’ be achieved. Late last year and earlier in the year, I honestly had to let some people go as they didn’t or couldn’t fit into our DNA. Our DNA is unique and special to us and it’s honestly what makes us different.
Who is Tolulope Medebem?
A wife, mother and an entrepreneur (I would say a serial entrepreneur with various businesses including AsterIML, the experiential marketing agency as well as the online radio station – BoomRadioNG: do check it out www.boomradiong.com, you can advertise with us, you know). I also have a mental health initiative, BantzwithTee (Podcast, Instagram and website – www.bantzwithtee.com) aimed at dealing with mental health issues in an ‘easy and relatable’ manner, seeking solutions as best as we can whilst offering solace as well as a ‘shoulder’ when needed.