Ideas House: An Ideation Hub Changing Experiential Landscape

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By Azeez Disu

Kehinde Salami, MD/CEO, Ideas House

In the popular quote of Mark Twain, “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

In line with the above, organisations embark on great thinking and executions in order to excel. Recently Ideas House, leading experiential powerhouse, celebrated 10 years of its remarkable operation in Nigeria, marking a decade of contributing to the growth of many brands in the country.

Basically, it was set up to serve as an ideation factory for the experiential landscape in the country.

“Our vision is to be the number one, idea factory of reference not the number one experiential agency,” Kehinde Salami, the MD/CEO, Ideas House said.

Interestingly, it has stacked to its vision which reflects in its professionalism and quality service for clients, earning it series of awards and recognitions.

The agency won the Best Place to Work for Millennials and the Best Place to Work in Marketing Communications Industry at Great Place to Work Awards. Coming out 6th out of 95 Great Place To Work Companies shortlisted across countries in Africa for 2017-2018.

To reaffirm its leadership in the industry and to remain the great place to work, it recently sent over 50 of its staffs on a trip aboard.

Asides that, the agency recently won big at this year’s EXMAN Awards, winning 8 awards. It won the Silver, Best Trade Activation for Guinness; Silver, Best Use of Props in an Activation for Maggi Pop-Up Kitchen; Silver, Best Shopper Activation-Open Market for Maggi Naija Pot; Gold, Best Merchandising Solutions for Maggi Naija Pot; Gold, Best Shopper Activation –Modern Trade for Guinness; Gold, Best Event, B2B for MTN; Bronze, Best Merchandising Solutions-Modern Trade for Guinness; and Bronze, Best Shopper Activation-Modern Trade for Maggi.

The Brand Name “Ideas House”

Speaking on what inspired the name of the agency, Salami disclosed, “I have been in marketing communications industry for almost 25 years. I have been on the client, and as well as on the agency side.

“Specifically on the agency’s side, I started studying agencies and how agencies are perceived and positioned and in my experience working with agencies or working in an agency in previous life. I discovered that there was a dichotomy and it was really around how an agency should position itself. Many agencies position themselves as supplier of services. So, you have advertising agencies, media agencies, outdoor agencies and others that are mainly suppliers of services, but there was a higher moral ground and for me that was around the whole concept of ideation.

“I felt that there was a gap, and no agency at least to my knowledge was playing in the area of ideation. Idea is the capital, the rest is just money. Idea is all where we need to position ourselves and the execution can then go different areas.

“Mainly Ideas House was set up as an ideation agency. It just happened that within the concept of the ideation mix experiential is where we play while will partner with stakeholders and marketing communications agencies for the area it we do not have speciality skills to deliver. First, we deliver on the mandate of idea because it is from that level you can engage the major stakeholders, the CEOs and Marketing Directors. That was how the name ‘Ideas House’ was conceptualised, it wasn’t by accident,” he said.

Members of staff celebrating Ideas House @ 10

Strategic Offerings

According Salami, the agency’s strategic offering are “First of all, it’s really about ideation; this business was founded on the DNA of ideation. I have seen experiential agencies and marketing communication agencies in general set up from what I call your typical supplier mentality.

“I am a supplier of service, I do advertising, I do events management, I am into sponsorship, I do media planning. So, what happens if the multinational does not need media planning? What if they say that they don’t want to do advertising, does that mean that you cannot add value?

“We knew from the word go what we wanted to achieve and we designed our business around the ideation ecosystem. That way, we become true strategic partners

“We call our company Ideas House; it’s not by accident because the vision is to be the Number One Ideas Factory of Reference. You can see some of the awards we’ve won. It’s about creative thinking, innovation pipeline and execution excellence.

“That is what we offer our clients and, in addition to that, we also offer an efficient structure, positive attitude and financial capacity. These are things plus more that we offer our clients.”

Innovative Activations

Some of the notable activations planned and executed by Ideas House are Guinness Africa Special, Nestle PureLlife protect activation burst 1, Kansai Plascon Street Storm activation, Cadbury Open Market Delight activation, MTN Mega & Mini Hotspots, Coca-Cola Share a coke II, Orijin Drum (Africa’s Largest drum), Guinness Made of Black City Tour, Colgate In-store activation among others. 

Meanwhile, according to Salami, some of the activations and campaigns the agency ran for brands have helped boost their bottom-line. “The most recent one is the Rio Ferdinand, English former professional footballer who played for Manchester United, in-market launch. Rio Ferdinand was in Nigeria, we executed over seven activities over a period of 48 hours flawlessly, end to end, planning and execution. I learnt that the project won Diageo Nigeria an award for the best experiential campaign in Africa in 2018.

“We have the Maggi Pop up Kitchen which was another activities we ran and we are continuing this year by going to tertiary institutions to make the brand more of a lifestyle brand.

“We also have the Guinness Africa Special project. It was a pan Nigerian activities. What brought the brand to life is the cultural positioning of the brand, so it is the vibrant side of Guinness in terms of its colour and positioning and in term of the persuasion we want to create in the minds of the youth.

“I recall what we did for Mouka Foam many years ago in terms of distributor enlightenment campaign and sales drive which was one of the works we registered at the Cannes Lions awards in 2013/2014.

“For MTN, we have the Pulse Invasion campaign which again was indeed successful last year. We have the Nescafe modern trade sampling and experiential campaign which still on-going which is all about showing people the different ways they can enjoy Nescafe beyond just saying you are having a cup of coffee.

“Also, we have the Insurance Consortium campaign where we turned accidental cars into the billboards, and running a PR campaign around it, saying this could be your car buy insurance today. Using accidental and burn cars,” he explained.

Apart from all these excellent campaigns, Ideas House also executed several marketing and sales projects for clients like Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Diageo, amongst others.

Other Awards

In 2017, the agency won big at the inaugural Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN) Awards ceremony where it clinched four awards as Best Consumer Activation- Gold; Best Trade or Shopper Activation (traditional trade)- Silver; Best Activation of a Sporting Property- Bronze;  and Best use of truck branded installation of props in Experiential Marketing- Bronze.

All these awards and recognitions are pointers to hard work and tireless dedication the agency has put into the business experiential marketing over the year.  Interestingly, the agency has surpassed its target. According to Salami, “I think the agency has surpassed its own target and expectation. It has grown in appetite, it has also grown in its desire to be one of the leading agency in this market.

“A business that we started ten years with just one member of staff now has over fifty-five members of staff. An agency that has been growing year in year 25% for the past 6 years. An agency that has enriched its community, equally empowered its people to achieve more. An agency that is extremely law abiding, fulfilling its obligation to the government as well as its staff.

“Our agency won the best experiential marketing agency West Africa in 2017 in Accra, Ghana. Also, we won four awards at EXMAN, and these awards have made our agency the highest recipient at the award.

“We also won in 2018, the best great place to work in Africa in Marketing Communication industry, emerging the sixth place to work in the entire African continent.” 

He attributed the successes achieved so far to the quality leadership of the management in the agency, and its talented and dedicated staffs who are determined to always make the difference.

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