By Chief Uche Nworah, Ph.D, FCIM, FRPA
On Wednesday, 19th January, 2022, at Radisson Blu Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, alongside other distinguished advertising practitioners, I was found worthy to be inducted as a Fellow (FRPA) of the advertising profession by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON). For us in the advertising industry, this is our own ‘SAN’ (Senior Advocate of Nigeria in the legal profession).
This one is special, as it is home- grown. For me, it eclipses the Fellowship of the United Kingdom Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) which I achieved few years back. It also counters the narrative that a prophet is not acknowledged in his land.
My journey into the world of advertising started in the late 80s when as a young man growing up in Aba, Abia state (then Imo State), I chanced upon a book, ‘Advertising’, written by Winston Fletcher. I had gone to Milverton road, by Aba main motor park to buy the latest instalments of James Hadley Chase novels. Back then, for some reasons, the book sellers displayed the books on the sidewalk thus tasking potential book buyers to bend down and pick the title they wanted. I could never understand why they did that, and wondered why perhaps they could not display the books on a table.
It was in the course of rummaging through the books displayed that I came across the Fletcher book. I picked it up instinctively and read the back cover. I became transfixed. I didn’t bother buying the Chase novels again, i bought the book instead and read it like a novel.
I had left secondary school at the time, spending time doubling at my father’s building materials shop, and my mother’s two restaurants as an extra hand, while wondering what to do with my life. The natural choice for me of course was to apply through the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to study Business Management at the local Imo State University, Aba Campus, as it then was, with the hope of joining the family business upon graduation.
However, after reading the Fletcher book, it opened my eyes to the world of advertising. It had some sections on career advice, and courses to study in the university, including names and addresses of professional bodies that manage professional advertising, public relations, marketing and communication courses.
I will go on to study Communication Arts at the University of Uyo, and also entered for the United Kingdom CAM professional Diploma examinations in Advertising at the same time. (I was later transferred by CAM to BEEC Diploma due to exchange rate challenges). I qualified about the same time I was finishing my undergraduate studies as the Best Advertising Student in Nigeria. This gave me extra career edge. Of course many other degrees and professional certifications would follow.
While thanking God for making this possible, I want to appreciate several individuals, schools, and brands, too numerous to mention that have laid the foundation for me, inspired and encouraged me all through my career in advertising, branding and marketing communications, thus making it possible for me to work on the advertising agency, client (advertiser), and media sides of the advertising industry triangle.
In no particular order, I want to thank my parents, Late Nze Edwin Nwora and his wife, my mother, Ezinne Gloria Nwora who though had no formal education made me to realise early on in life the importance of education. They never wavered in paying my university and professional examination fees. My father in particular, he would wake me up in the middle of the night to read. It was very convenient for him as my room was next to his in our house. I used to think that he got his kick whenever he saw my room lights on late nights and early mornings, and book pages flipping. That used to be a sure sign to him that I was burning the proverbial midnight candle (studying).
To the amazing teachers and facilitators at the various academic and professional institutions that I have passed through; The University of Uyo, The University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, University of Greenwich, London, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), formerly Anambra State University, The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), United Kingdom, The Communication, Advertising and Marketing Foundation (CAM), United Kingdom, and the Business Education Examinations Council (BEEC).
Chief George Moghalu, FRPA, who gave me the opportunity for the first time to experience advertising agency life in his firm, Crystal Functions Ltd, Aba (The only Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria – AAPN, now Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria -AAAN agency in Aba at the time). He later supported me to set up the Advertising Students Association (ASA) in the department of Communication Arts, University of Uyo. He served as Patron and funded our activities for several years.
Udeme Ufot and his team at SO & U Saatchi & Saatchi for their industry changing ads which inspired a generation.Julia Oku, then of Insight Communications Ltd (Insight Grey), and later of SO & U Saatchi & Saatchi whose award winning advertising copy for Vaseline, (If babies could talk, they would ask for the best) inspired me to become a copywriter. Biodun Shobanjo, founder of Insight Communications Ltd/Troyka Holdings for inspiring several generations and changing the face of advertising business in Nigeria. Lolu Akinwunmi of Prima Garnet Ogilvy for carrying the torch for another generation of advertising practitioners. Late May Nzeribe of Sunrise D’Arcy, affiliate Nigerian agency of the D’Arcy Massius Benton & Bowles (DMBB) global advertising network for giving me the opportunity to work in the agency in Client Services, Public Relations and Events.
London Metropolitan University where I taught Marketing Communications and Business Strategy in the Business School for several years. Mrs Cecilia Ibru, former Group Managing Director of Oceanic Bank International Plc who hired me as Manager, Corporate Affairs/Brand Communications, and later put me in charge of training in the bank as Pioneer Head of Oceanic Leadership Academy. Otunba Michael Adenuga, Chairman of Globacom for giving me the opportunity to manage Globacom’s multi-billion naira out-of-home advertising unit, in the Marketing Communications Department for 6 years. Chief Willie Obiano, Governor of Anambra state who hired me as MD/CEO of Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), and supported me and the organisation for 8 years to serve Ndi Anambra.
I don’t take this APCON Fellowship privilege lightly, hence I have taken time to narrate my advertising journey hoping that it will inspire and encourage the present generation. I pledge to continue to do my very best as a Fellow to take the advertising profession in Nigeria and globally to even greater heights.
Chief Uche Nworah, Ph.D, FCIM, FRPA, is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Anambra Broadcasting Service