One of the greatest achievements of anyone in the creative industry is to see your words come to life, your ideas shape nationwide conversation or turn an innocuous product into a mega brand.
In the marketing communications industry, Our BossOf The Week, Tunji Olugbodi has conquered many territories as a warrior who thrives on taking on battles that are ideas and innovation driven.
Indeed, he has chosen to fearlessly take up space in a universe that that has not made any space for him and in addition, the power of his talented makes space for others.
Highly respected as a worthy member of the top echelon of the profession, Olugbodi, a Fellow of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria has used his experience, expertise and professional prowess to such wonderful use that he is one of the go-to experts in the industry today.
Born to a middle class family in Surulere in Lagos, his father Joshua Olugbodi was an Executive at the Central Bank of Nigeria while his mum was an enterprising and resourceful business woman who instilled the spirit of entrepreneurship into him and his siblings.
As a strong-willed woman, she held the home front together and did all sorts of legitimate businesses to support and augment the family earnings. Life was simple and authentic.
Tunji, the second of nine children had his primary school education at Salvation Army Primary School, Surulere; before proceeding to Ejigbo Baptist High School, Osun state. He at the time had a very small stature that made him vulnerable in the school. As a child, he was an easy going lad who loved to read a lot and also watch TV to learn, he had great love for art and started acting from his nursery school days through primary and secondary school. From the get go, he had a soft spot for the creative.
It was no surprise therefore that when it was time to embark on tertiary education, he decided to study English at the Ogun State University, Ago Iwoye, now Olabisi Onabanjo University. it became very pronounced as he studied English with a strong bias for acting and directing. At the University, he was very active and his personal motto“Nothing ventured, nothing had” drove him to success in his studies.
His original intention after finishing top of his class was to go back to the university as a teacher but fate had a different plan for the trajectory of his life.
As a student he was a freelancer for The Guardian, he was submitting different articles and they were being published and so after school, it was easy for him to get immediate employment as a Reporter and Sub-editor.
After sometime at The Guardian, he became disillusioned, he felt gagged and inhibited as a journalists because despite the tremendous access he had, he was unable to write as he wished and to worsen matters, the pay was not much.
According to him, “To be honest, I became quickly disillusioned with the privileged access the media gave me to view what I call the “soul” of the society. First, I realised that you cannot even write or talk about all you know about what’s going on. Second, I was experiencing diminishing returns in terms of job satisfaction but I was proud to have been part of the strong flagship of media, as The Guardian was then known”. He was with The Guardian till 1989, a year after he joined from his youth service where he taught at Tiley Gyado College; where he met his wife and they got married two years later.
As a sojourner of arts that he is, who is always open and willing to experiment. He wanted to explore the wider platform of information management and content dissemination. He had to switch from journalism to public relations because journalism requires a high sense of discretion and circumspection that can be potentially negative alongside with the fact that journalists were not getting fair deal in overall terms and they were tagged as “necessary evils” that must be kept close and micro managed. He joined Promoserve Ltd, one of the leading agencies then which was owned by the inimitable Kehinde Adeosun; working with the agency according to him was:
“A rare privilege since it was the happening profession then, getting into Promoserve was a big deal back then. I remember that it was keenly contested. There were three positions for which over 400 of us competed. There were several layers of written and oral interviews and a final meeting with the MD. I considered myself lucky and was very relieved at the success. Promoserve was one of the happening agencies then. And being on Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, meant we belong in the ‘Madison Avenue‘ of Nigerian advertising. All the leading agencies were located within a two-three kilometer radius of each other; Bode Thomas, Sabiu Ajose, Eric Moore and Adeniran Ogunsanya streets. There was Grant Advertising, Rosabel Ltd, Insight Communications, Centrespread Ltd and others that belonged in that cluster.”
Due to his hard work and relentless spirit, he rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the Business Manager in less than two years, he also won the staff of the year award before finding his way to Oceanic bank where he was the Head of Corporate communications.
Promoserve Ltd gave him the opportunity to cut his teeth, Prima Garnet gave him the opportunity to sharpen it and offered a platform for professional validation where he started as a senior Manager and rose to the post of Executive Director within 16 years before he exit the company to start his own Agency which he named Verdant Zeal.
He described Verdant Zeal as a God-inspired vision that is growing its brand across West Africa in a pragmatic manner. The company’s first project was in 1989 for Access Bank; Verdant Zeal was set on a concept called OTOBOS acronym for On Time, On Budget, On Strategy; which inspires and drives their trajectory to discover, develop and nurture their exclusive narratives.
He built Verdant Zeal on the platform to benchmark themselves on continuous basis through thought leadership with the vision to enhance capacity through skills validation and acquisition, to collaborate and build strategic relationships that benefit clients with core values which he called BACPAC- Bravery, Agility, Curiosity, Passion, Accountability and Collaboration. The agency specializes majorly in Branding Consultancy, Public Relations Management, Media Consulting, Digital Marketing and Events Activation.
For the last twelve years, Verdant Zeal a multidisciplinary business solutions provider has been playing a pivotal role in agenda setting and shaping conversations with its “innovention” series.
The lecture series which ties extensively with the company’s business scope-branding and global competitiveness is aimed at setting agenda for futuristic needs of the nation.
According to Olugbodi “The concept will bring forward original ideas geared towards bringing about change in all sectors of the economy.
For him, media and communication is very critical to Nigeria’s development because the perception about the country is substantially based on media reports.
This series is a clear testament that Olugbodi is not a businessman who is all about profit but a passionate patriot who believes strongly that a more businesses will thrive if the nation as whole finds its footing and gets moving in the right direction.
Olugbodi, an Executive Board Member of AAAN and pioneer chairman of LAIF (Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival) never allows issues to catch him by surprise. He prides himself as a very good planner; when Plan A fails, there is always a Plan B to make sure that it comes to realization.