Enitan Denloye is the bold strategist Brands and marketing Director at Etisalat. Prior to his appointment, Enitan has garnered extensive experience at home and abroad in Sales, Brand Management, Marketing Communications and Management Consultancy, having worked at Procter & Gamble, the Coca-Cola Company, McKinsey & Co, and British American Tobacco (BAT), South Africa. He also has an MBA from the prestigious Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Illinois, U.S.A.
In this exclusive interview with MOBILEWORLD, Enitan speaks on Masterbrand campaign, transparency in promotions, creativity, the social media and many more. Excerpts…
Etisalat Masterbrand campaign came out with a big bang. What is so unique about this campaign?
The Master Brand Campaign for us has been in phases. We started with the first phase of the campaign we chose for costumer coverage and quality, which was something we did sometime last year. Then why did we pick coverage and quality business? Coverage and quality are one of our key strategic pillars that we focus on. We want to make sure that people are able to use their phones, get to people across Nigeria create a situation where people will be able to make quality calls, and you can hear clearly through the calls. So we started our Master Brand campaign with coverage and quality. We’ve picked different land marks all over Nigeria which people don’t even know. The second phase of the category was the one in April, where we spoke to the essence of the brand. All around town you see the different outdoor materials; we are very creative and innovative, which is also one of our key values as a brand. Everything we do, we love to be innovative.
We have been tagged the most innovative Telco brand over and over again. For us, it is not just being the most innovative Telco brand; it is being the most innovative brand in Nigeria, which is what we want to do. We are a true Nigerian brand and we also made sure we reflected that on the phase two of the Master Brand. We are also a brand that is beyond the spinning network, for us it is an attitude, a lifestyle. In everything we do, we try to be different and we try to be consistent in differentiating our staffs and even in our products and services .Even at inception our products and services allow you to pick a number, a matching number.
Your emphasis on the youth segment is quite impressive why is Etisalat interested in this category?
A lot of people think we just focus on the youths; we actually focus on all the segments. We have the youth, we have the mass and we have the high value. However one thing is that our campaigns are very appealing to the youth. They like our freshness, we are very innovative, and we’re seen as a cool brand. Those are things that very much resonate with the youths. Another thing that resonates with them and it is not just to the youths, is the value for money brand. We give value, we run promotions and people will tell you, you get value for your money. But beyond being a youth brand, we also focus on different segments of the market. If you look at the T.V series we ran through out last year and this year using “Saka” for example, it is a promotion that cuts across and it is very relevant to the mass market and very relevant to the youths and even the high values.
How credible and transparent are your promotions?
The biggest thing for us is to be 100percent transparent. If you look at our communication materials, we are always very explicit, if we’re giving out free airtime for example, we are going to state it. Most of the time, the free airtime we give are usually for you to call all networks. We want to communicate something and do something different. For example, we will specifically state if a package has an access fee. The reason for us doing that is we believe that the consumer is the king. We believe if we are in this for the long term, we want to build a brand that can stand a test of time; we want consumers to trust us, which is why most of the research carried out there picked Etisalat as the most trusted brand. We always try to let consumers know what they are getting into.
Do the subscribers get the big money prizes?
One of the things we’ve done is that we’ve run different types of promotions. One thing that we are very fond of is doing a promotion that a lot of people will win, and we are just happy seeing people benefit from these promotions. For example, we’ve been running the SIM registration promotion for over a year now. You can win up to a hundred thousand, it is not a gamble, it is constant but it is not like a raffle draw. We give free airtime because people make a lot of calls and when you give them free airtime it goes a long way. So for us we have rewarded our subscribers with billions of naira So we’ve done a mix of big time prizes in millions of dollars. One of the things we try to focus on is make sure we have our over 13 million subscribers to get something.
What drives your creative for communication materials at Etisalat?
The biggest thing for us is collaboration. We work with our agencies as strategic partners, we plan very early, and we work together as a team and most importantly, because of the good relationship that exists between us, we always push ourselves, we will never settle for just normal. We will continue to push and push until we come up with something very distinctive and that is important in a market like this where there is a lot of clutter. There are so many things on the radio, tv, billboards so it is important for you to have communication that stands out because that drives memorability, people would remember the message you speak. Also as a company, our standards are very high; we always want to be distinctive. We came in after most of the other telcos and now look at what we’ve been able to achieve within a short period. We cannot achieve those things by doing ordinary things; we have to do the extra ordinary things to achieve the extraordinary results.
The brand Etisalat has in less than five years been able to draw more subscribers faster than any other telecoms operator. What is the magic?
It’s focusing on quality; it is putting consumers first and making sure there is value for money, we also make sure we do promotions to drive trials. By the time we came, a lot of people were already in the market so you have to do things for them to try you, when they try you they find out your products are good with high quality. We are also very innovative, we always want to do things that are very innovative and we strive to also make sure that we work very well within and also with our strategic partners and all those things when you put them together, they eventually give us the kind of strong results we have had in the past years.
Which particular project or campaign has remained indelible in your mind and why?
I have been here for a year and few months and I have run a lot of campaigns since I came here. The first one is the SIM reg. promotion. What we did was that we were able to turn the SIM registration which was a disadvantage because you couldn’t activate SIMS unless they were registered, we turned that into advantage and it drew a lot of growth. What we also did was using all those series of advertising to build the brand keeping the mass market. You see a lot of people; they love the “Saka” series so that is a very important campaign.
The second thing we launched was 3G. We had very strong communication materials that resonated with the market; it has helped us to jump-start and fast track the growth of our 3G product and the third thing in terms of campaign is also the Master brand campaign. In the first phase, we had e-mails from the Ministry of Tourism saying that they want to collaborate with us. In the second phase also, so many people have been commending the good work. So from the campaigns stand point, those are the three things. From the media stand point, we’ve also been focusing on media efficiencies and that also delivered a lot of good results which is the power behind growth of double digits.
What is your assessment of Nigerians’ response to social media?
Social media is extremely important, it’s an area that is still very much under developed, it is not as matured as you have it in the U.S and the U.K. It is an area we are focusing on as a team. Social media falls under me and it is a way whereby you can interact and engage with consumers in their comfort zone. So it is clearly an area where a lot of companies are still trying to understand with clearly the future. If you look at it, social media is not like traditional media that is paid for. Right now Etisalat as a company is at the fore front trying to drive social media.
How do you use it here?
We have three different platforms, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We use the Twitter platforms to engage with our consumers and you can also see us on different blogs.
How do you rate your marketing activities when compared to others in the parallel business?
In the last 12 months, it has gotten to a stage where other competitors wait for Etisalat to come out with a promo and they just copy. An example is double your recharge promo; all other networks are now doing the same thing. SIM reg as well, once we started the promotion, it was also replicated. What that tells me is if your competitors are replicating what you are doing, that means that you are doing well. We are the fastest growing network right now and this tells you that what we are doing is resonating with consumers and its delivering values. Based on that I will say I am very proud of the work with the general marketing team, my team and all other colleagues. Etisalat is more of a Naija brand than any other brand. So when you talk about a Naija brand, the first thing that comes to people’s mind is Etisalat, you know “Naija for life”. It’s more about your proposition, they way you are communicating to consumers. Marketing is about discipline, communicating the right things and having a brand proposition.
Change is imminent. In your field how do you cope with new trends how do you remain relevant?
For me as a person, I am very aggressive when it comes to self-development. I started off my career with Procter & Gamble which is one of the top marketing companies. From there I moved to Coca Cola. One of the reasons why I moved to Coca Cola was that the brand Coke was exposed to many other things even though P&G was really good too. At Coca Cola, I managed brand coke, worked as the Region advertising manager for all the brands and in my pursuit to move things forward; I left for the U.S for an MBA at the Kellogs School of Management. Kellogs at that point was the number one business school globally which was the attraction for me to upgrade myself further; learn new ways of marketing. That I did two years with Kellogs, I moved on to McKinsey a company, which is also the number one managing consulting firm in the world all to learn best practices and to equip myself. From there, I moved to South Africa to join British American Tobacco, I wanted to work in a different market.
Could you have been in any other career rather than this?
This is always what I wanted to do. Brand management and communications have always been the things I loved. It is not about just doing something; it is about doing something you enjoy, something that you are very comfortable with, something that you can add a lot of value to.
Which brand person or product has a great influence on you and why?
I love Apple and I love Coke. I start with Coke; Coke has been a good brand and it’s a mass market brand. Everywhere in the world, you will see Coke. They always have that leadership status. They have always invested in talents and they make sure they invest in understanding what the consumers want. That is very important, putting consumers first. Apple is just a very innovative company; they came from being nothing a couple of years ago. So from a global perspective, Apple is clearly a good company. Look at what they’ve done with iPad and iPod .
We have different mentors at different points in time. In every company I have worked, I always had as mentor. At Coca Cola, my manager at that point in time, was a very strong mentor; at P&G, the country manager was also my mentor. So I have had so many mentors. As I speak to you right now, I already have mentors in different industries and different countries because mentorship is very important.
When and how do you relax?
Weekends are very important for me in terms of spending time with family. Vacations are also very sacred. To be very honest, the job is very demanding but it is something I also love doing, something I unconsciously do. Over weekends, I don’t have a problem checking my e-mails but I always carve out time to spend with my family, nuclear and extended.