Nigeria’s premier perception management firm, CMC Connect Limited on Saturday, 28th May, 2022, kicked off activities for the celebration of its 30th anniversary at its corporate headquarters in Lagos.
The foremost strategic communication and public affairs firm gathered clients, media, former and present board members as well as well-wishers to its GRA Ikeja office to relive its 30 years of sustainable progress.
The event was flagged off with a media conference that had cross section of the Nigerian media. Others in attendance were its pioneer board members, investors, management and staff of the company.
Addressing the media, the founder and Group Managing Director of the company, Mr Yomi Badejo - Okusanya took the guest through the historic trajectory and the many phases and hurdles the firm have had to cross the past three decades.
Themed ‘We are still flying’, Badejo-Okusanya expressed gratitude to God, his wife, staff and to those that have supported his dream from inception. He identified some iconic personalities whom he described as his mentors and who invested in his dreams right from 1997. These individuals include: Sir Steve Bamidele Omojafor; Chairman of STB McCain; Mr Biodun Shobanjo, Chairman of Troyka Groups; Mr Billy Lawson, founder LTC Advertising.
Badejo-Okusanya who has been two term President, African Public Relations Association (APRA), giving the historical background of CMC Connect, noted that the dream was birth in a 3-bedroom flat around Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos in the early 1990s.
“It all started with a dream in a 3-bedroom flat off Toyin Street, Ikeja in the in 1992”. His dream was to build a public relations practice that will offer incisive solutions-driven services to a growing clientele in the then-emerging Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) sector.
“And barely five years into our existence, Capital Marketing Communication (CMC) had to make a hard-strategic decisions when the opportunity came to be a part of the Lawson Thomas and Colleagues (LTC) Group which held the J. Walter Thompson affiliation in Nigeria at the time.”
According to Badejo-Okusanya who is popularly known across Africa as YBO, while many advised against this move, he saw a great opportunity to be mentored by one of the firsts in Nigeria’s fast growing marketing communication industry. Not just that, LTC had such an enviable global partnership with JWT.
“It was indeed a great period of mentoring, management, development, accountability and corporate governance. “This worked so well that the local affiliate of McCain Erikson, STB McCain also bought into the business, further diluting the initial ownership.”
Following the partnership, the firm which was known at that time as Capital Marketing Communication (CMC) was renamed CMC Connect to reflect the capital investment of STB McCain; a relationship that lasted till the year 2014 when they parted ways amicably.
Further speaking, the GMD also commended some friends who he admitted, he owes a debt of gratitude. Some of these friends, he noted invested in the CMC dream.
“Our firm owes a debt of appreciation to the leaders of the various businesses who believed enough to invest in our dreams. I will like to mention the likes of Mr. Billy Kolawole Lawson, Mr. Babatunde Dabiri, Mrs. Bola Thomas, Mr. Victor Edegbe, Sir Steve Bamidele Omojafor, and of course my indefatigable friend and brother, Mr. Rufai Gbolagade Ladipo.
“Let me use this opportunity to acknowledge our current chairman Mr. Akinmolu Opeodu and another Director, Mr. Olaolu Akinkugbe. “I also extend our gratitude and appreciation to every single person who at one time or the other agreed to serve on our board,” he added.
Following the end of the partnership with LTC and STB, the business transformed into a group giving birth to subsidiaries, namely: CMC Connect BCW, Reignite Public Affairs Limited, i-Octane Digital Interactive, and Tangalo Africa (an agro-focused media company).
Prior to that, the firm had entered into a relationship with Arcay Network of South Africa which ultimately culminated in our flagship business becoming affiliated with BCW, the third-largest global network.
“Our affiliation with BCW whose history can be traced to the icon of modern public relations, Mr. Harold Burson, has been largely rewarding, especially in the areas of business reference and capacity building”.
The past thirty years have seen CMC Connect Limited serving clients across diverse sectors of the economy. They include: Peugeot Nigeria, British American Tobacco, Virgin Atlantic, Shell Nigeria, Microsoft, Intels, HP, Unity Bank, Airtel, Lagos State Government, Ogun State Government, Delta State Government, Pfizer, Japaness Tobacco International (JTI), Afton Chemicals, CNN, Warner Brothers, FMTX, Copterjet, Jagal Group, Teju Group, Chief Mrs. Opral Benson, President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Chief Harry Ayoade Akande, ICAN, NCC, LCCI, NBL Plc, Diageo, Coca Cola, and a host of others.
Speaking on how the firm has impacted people over the years, Badejo-Okusanya affirmed that CMC Connect (Perception Managers) has had the privilege of shaping so many destinies, with many outstanding alumni scattered across various endeavors, and serving as leaders across the globe.
Further speaking on the company’s economic impact, he reiterated that the company will continue to serve as a responsible corporate citizen contributing its own quota to the economy.
“CMC Connect Limited will continue to serve as a responsible corporate citizen contributing its own quota to its community through employment, capacity building, professional development, and community relations. To this end, the firm will continue to provide placements for undergraduates as a way of mentoring them.”
“We have also contributed significantly to the progress of the industry and the profession, thereby playing leading roles in the growth and development of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN), and at the continental level, the African Public Relations Association (APRA) and even the Global Alliance for Public Relations.”
Speaking on the challenges facing the industry, he said there are several challenges occasioned by a lack of proper understanding of what Public Relations service entails.
“The service we offer is intangible, and many of our stakeholders especially clients and the government are still not very clear about the value public relations ’brings to the table’.
“As a result of this lack of understanding, public relations is yet to take its rightful place among the comity of professions. It has not been accorded the right status and certainly not the right value,” he noted.
On what the future holds for CMC Connect, Badejo-Okusanya affirmed that “In line with our belief in building an institution rather than a company, CMC Connect (Perception Managers) is poised to take on the future boldly.
“While our competitive edge remains strong consumer insight coupled with creative but impactful solutions, we are reviewing our offerings to be fully in line with contemporary challenges with engaging technology as an enabler to deliver our objectives.
“We are radically interrogating and innovating our processes to deliver much better results through our bouquet of services viz: Corporate Communications, Reputation and Brand Management, Crisis Management, Media Strategy & Relations, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Political Communications, Government Relations, Issues Management & Advocacy.
While speaking on succession plans, the GMD said, “Having realized that there can never be ‘success without succession’, CMC Connect Limited has decided to transmute from a limited liability company to a Limited by Partnership organisation.
“This arrangement will see a significant portion of the firm’s shareholding being conceded to the partnership, which in turn brings about shared earnings. It is believed that the new entity to be known as CMC Connect LLP will boost ownership, continuity, and definitely succession planning.
“Even though the future looks challenging, we are emboldened by the fact that as an organization through the years, we keep re-inventing ourselves, showing adaptability that guarantees business continuity,” the GMD concluded.
While unveiling the 30th Anniversary Flag, the Board Chairman of the organization, Mr Akinmolu Opeodu, commended the GMD for telling a compelling story of the past 30 years.
In his words, “We thank God, 30 years in business is a very long time because as they say many businesses don’t go beyond the first five years.
“30 years is certainly a lot to be thankful for and I think Yomi has done a good job in telling the background story of how we got to where we are. We appreciate those that were instrumental to the success of the company thus far,” he concluded.
To kick-off the 30 years anniversary celebration, the organization hosted invited guests to a live mega screen viewing of the Liverpool versus Real Madrid UEFA Champions League final match. The company gave out lot of goodies to all their invited guests including football lovers at the sponsored UEFA Final public viewing.
It was a night of pomp and pageantry as guests were treated to good music, food, drinks and souvenirs bearing the 30th Anniversary logo.
The event was sponsored by Airtel Nigeria, supported by Leadway Assurance, Nigerian Breweries Plc, and Tolaram Group. The football final event was held in an exciting football-themed ambience, where guests were able to network and relax while decked in jerseys of their favourite football clubs