Keynote session: Chief Operating Officer, Leo Burnett lagos, speaking on the Leo Burnett way (Keynote) , at GAFCOMM Speak for Africa conference in Kigali, Rwandan

Leo Burnett Lagos, a Humankind company and a leading creative advertising firm has urged brand builders and communicators to discontinue the strategy of building retail across products but people.


Lekan Lawal, the Chief Operating Officer of Leo Burnett Lagos stated this at the recently concluded 2019 Global Africa Forum on Communications (GAFCOMM), held in Kigali the Rwanda capital, with the theme: Speak for Africa: New Frontiers for Africa’s Global Growth Story.


While speaking on the topic “The Leo Burnett Way” as well contributing at the panel session, titled “the future of retail in Africa”, Lawal said, “Retail should be designed around people, not products. It should be designed in the context of multichannel shopping. We must deliver a relevant message that meets our shoppers’ needs at every channel along her path to purchase.”


According to him, the battle is on the ground already.  Africa is one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world, he posited, adding “Household consumption has increased even faster than its gross domestic product (GDP) in recent years – and average annual GDP growth has consistently outpaced the global average.”


Lawal said “the vast majority of consumer spending on the continent still currently takes place in informal, roadside markets. But the consumer today holds the most power – better connected, and better informed. “So then, how can brands connect with these consumers in a manner that is resonant and relevant, in order to build stronger relationships, in their quest to push the growth Agenda,” he queried.

L-R Moderator: Gomolemo Lolo Madikgetla, Lekan Lawal, Chief Operating Officer Leo Burnett Lagos; Brand Ross commercial Director, Coca Cola West Africa; Lesego Kotane, MD, King James, Johannesburg during the Advertising & Marketing in Africa panel, at GAFCOMM Speak for Africa conference in Kigali, Rwanda

“This African consumer is driven by hope and fear; hence we must understand them to a granular level. The more confident they are, the more they spend. The less confident the more they go into saving mode. Deeper understanding the African consumer, both as a consumer and as a shopper therefore is crucial to winning in retail,” he recommended.


Speaking further on  “This is the Leo Burnett way”, the adman reinforced how his agency has helped various organizations solve complex retail problems, particularly withthe introduction of the ‘ARC’ tool, Leo Burnett’s edge to connecting with African shoppers, scientifically mapping their journeys and designing based on a deeper understanding of their behavior across various key channels.


Commenting on how Africa can solve it challenges through communication, Lawal said, “Most disputes are as a result of breakdown in communication. Africa must commit to a holistic campaign that deliberately projects its best to the world, and even more importantly work towards improving their continent.


“Communication will play a big role in fostering meaningful dialogue among different African nations, and nurture a shared vision for the continent’s future. Most developing countries have a diverse society. Some are deprived of access to the mass media, and thus ever silent in the process of national dialogue, Leo Burnett Boss said.

According to him, this great divide, both in terms of access to information and contribution to knowledge, generates social and political tension, not to mention horrendous economic injustice. “This cannot go on. We, in the field of communication, need to exert our best in bringing together the diverse cultures in the developing world into a mosaic with distinct parts or a fully integrated rainbow of colors that every citizen is proud of,” Lawal stated.

R-L Lekan Lawal, Chief Operating Officer Leo Burnett Lagos, Anurika Azubuike, Founder Marketplace Africa, and Emeka Obia, Lead Strategist, Leo Burnett Lagos at the Future of Retail panel session hosted by Leo Burnett Lagos, at GAFCOMM Speak for Africa conference in Kigali, Rwanda

He added that communicators are leaders. They help others see opportunities and current realities with a new lens, enabling everyone to act in harmony. He said however noted that only when citizens of a country have nurtured a truly shared vision, transcending personal agendas, can the process of national development reach the tipping point for accelerated growth.


“Indeed, a country may develop only when its leaders realize the wisdom in the principle – power shared is power multiplied, not power diminished.”


Also commenting on the future of marketing and building stronger human connections, Lawal said that” We must control our narrative as Africans, as we seek to connect with people. The human connection more than ever has become crucial, because the battle for brands now is on the ground – as people now expect brands to relate with them as humans not consumers.”


Leo Burnett Lagos partnered The Nerve Africa to host GAFCOMM, an annual event for industry practitioners described as the Davos of African communication where more than 200 leaders in public, marketing and corporate communications as well as more than 1,000 marketing, advertising and communications professionals attended in Kigali.