INTERVIEW: After being laid off in 2010 banking tsunami, I vowed to never depend on any corporate entity – Eddie Madaki

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Eddie Madaki – This is a name known to many; especially those who work in the marketing communications industry in Nigeria.

He has an imposing physical structure that makes him stand out in a gathering of thousands; but even his solid physical presence is no match for the success he has built as a personal brand and with his company, Eddiempr.

Eddie’s story however, is not one of glee moments and rosy exploits.

As the firstborn, he was entrusted into a provider role at the tender age of 8, he was a ‘broke’ celebrity after winning the 3rd runner-up for Gulder Ultimate Search in 2006.

He lost his banking job in 2010 during the famous Sanusi Lamido banking tsunami despite being overdue for promotion. And in 2020, the infamous coronavirus pandemic threatened the existence of his business.

It is April 2021 and Eddie has risen above it all. He tells NewsWireNGR’s Oladele Owodina how his resilience has helped him reinvent himself and outwit whatever challenge life throws at him.

  • Not a lot of people know you started from Gulder Ultimate search – Your career path means you wear multiple hats at the same time. How do you make it all fit? –

To answer this properly I would have to tell my entire life story but I fear we won’t have enough ink left when I am done, lol.

So I will give you the abridged backstory. I am the first of 4 kids and I have always had responsibility thrust on me from a very young age. My dad though now a lawyer was ex-military and raised us in a very militarian manner and fostered a strong culture of independence and self-sufficiency in all his kids. I was always creative, into music, sports, arts, and creative writing so I came off as quite the dreamer and struggled to find an outlet for all that came naturally to me. 

I joined a gospel rap band at 8 years old and we toured and ministered at massive crusades around the middle belt; I went on to study architecture so that I could still be free to draw because I was a pretty good awarding winning artist in primary and secondary school. Fast forward to graduating and still practicing, I auditioned for Gulder Ultimate Search in 2006 and was the 3rd runner up. This was my claim to fame opening me up to a world of opportunity in advertising as I modelled and interned for a number of agencies in Lagos. I then went on to work at Aso FM as a radio presenter and then auditioned and got cast to play the role of Hassan in the BBC world service trust syndicated drama series “WETIN DEY”.

Back then the entertainment industry wasn’t what it is today, remuneration was poor, the only currency we enjoyed was fame and recognition. Needless to say I wasn’t quite satisfied with where I was professionally. So when youth service came alone I got posted to Oceanic bank in Abuja and that’s where I honed my skills in marketing, copywriting, facilitation, corporate communications, etc.

After garnering multiple certifications from revered entities like the McKinsey company, Kimberly Ryan Co., Alpha Leadership institute, I left the Banking Sector as the Brand manager of Union Bank National Assembly branch in 2015. This was 5 years after the birth of iBlend Services in 2010. The rest as they say is history.

My personal ethos is, I believe that all humans are capable of so much more than one singular career pursuit, hobby or talent. Research has shown that even high performing geniuses only use a tenth of their brain’s capacity and that knowledge constantly inspires me to be fearless and open to taking on new challenges.

However, in my case I genuinely love all that I do, so it never feels like work, there is almost no distinction between the work I do and my lifestyle. If I wasn’t being paid to be a business development consultant, PR practitioner, Compere, Sales coach, actor /model, I would still do all that, anyway. I feel very lucky and blessed that I get remunerated for doing what I genuinely enjoy. 

  •  You’re also an actor we hear – tell us about some of the movies or series you’ve been featured 

So my first stint of acting was a FarmFresh TVC which I was cast as a lead in 2003, I was an undergrad at the time. My break came in 2007, where I played Hassan on Wetin Dey, shot and produced by the BBC world service trust. 

After that I took a break from acting to focus on iBlend and EddieMPR, all the while entertaining a few scripts but nothing really excited me till 2018, when I was actually promoting the open auditions for a new Multichoice Africa magic drama series which ended up being HALITA, I accompanied a friend to the auditions, made up my mind to audition and lucky me, I got cast to play yet another “HASSAN” on the now famous HALITA, for two years.

The most recent project I was cast in was an amazing spiritual romantic drama titled “STILL FALLING” written and produced by Karachi and Dimbo Atiya. It premiered to great nationwide reviews on the 12 of February. I played alongside Sharon Ojaa, Daniel Etim Effiong, Kunle Remi, Dr Panam Percy Paul, the amazing Liz Amaye-Benson. All stellar actors whom I respect immensely. I was star-struck half the time on that set.

  • You’ve navigated into different things – some people say without Eddie Madaki one can’t get anything done in Abuja – how were you able to hold down the FCT? 

My time as a banker equipped me with marketing intelligence and an understanding of consumer behavior or different markets, I had always been a student of human behaviour, curious about what makes people tick, understanding the best way to communicate and engage third parties to make a sale and having the opportunity to work and live in different regions of Nigeria, I quickly realized one couldn’t adopt “a one size fit all” approach to marketing and PR communications for the Abuja market. 

So armed with the fundamentals learned from my time in sales and marketing, my contacts and relationships in the media and entertainment space, my partners and I developed products and strategies specifically tailored for the Abuja / north central region and by the grace of God we have recorded significant success. So much so that we see a lot we do being mirrored and duplicated by other agencies, promoters and in some cases multinationals, so I guess we are doing something right.

  • What was your most difficult moment as an adult? 

My most difficult moment was also the moment of my rebirth. In 2010, during the famous Sanusi Lamido banking tsunami I was laid off amongst thousands of banking professionals in Nigeria. Now bear in mind that my performance appraisal score was over 300%, I was long overdue for promotion and I had poured my blood sweat and tears into that organisation. I literally killed something inside me, I was eventually recalled after 3 months but by that time I had checked out mentally. I decided I would never again let my survival be dependent on a corporate entity or man. I was determined in my resolution to build my own brand and that’s how Eddiempr was born.

  • 2020 has been the worst hit for people who work in the entertainment industry; how did manoeuvre your way around the tough year?

Pre-Covid, we had a pretty amazing run, signing on new clients, the team was constantly busy; I was literally travelling every other week. So when lockdown started we all welcomed it as a much needed break. Little did we know a few weeks will run into months. We had to do the corporately responsible thing and pay salaries throughout lock down which was difficult to say the least. 

However, I personally used the Lockdown period to reevaluate our business priorities and values. No one in our time had ever sold during a pandemic of this magnitude, so to remain indispensable to our clients we were always researching and developing new marketing and communications strategies that will keep our clients businesses top of mind and desirable in a pandemic era and drive sustained business activities post pandemic. 

Even though not all the clients we represented adopted these recommendations real time, we noticed that over time all we proposed became global practices and were very efficient in other markets . This positioned us in a positive light with our retainer clients, so when lockdown was relaxed we were able to jump back into business, retaining about 90% of our business relationships. Of course we haven’t reached peak activity and revenue yet. But it has been a pretty enlightening journey. One we are very grateful to have survived.

  • What scares you the most? 

Failure, I won’t say it scares me per se. But I resent failure and simply cannot accept it on any level.

  • In no particular order, who are the top 5 most important persons to you? 

My amazing wife, son, mum, dad, and my siblings (Lump them together as the 5th person lol)

  • What is it about marketing and branding that Nigerians are yet to grasp? 

Consumer-centric marketing, most brands/Clients conceptualize brilliant ideas , products and services without incorporating the end users needs, habits or desires. We tend to mirror communications western trends and try to sell to Nigerians in very ineffective ways. This is a challenge I have personally been faced with over the years and most of my peers mirror the same challenge. It is not enough to have capitals to start a business or build a product; it is not enough to have an idea if it is not investible. The largest markets in Nigeria are the FMCG and essential commodities markets, simply because its depletion is driven by survival and consumers dependence on these products.

I pray for a time where more brands and businesses would allow brand development and marketing communications agencies to develop and deploy effective and creative marketing solutions to their business needs. As opposed to being set in their own ideas of what “works” for a market they may not understand.

  • What would you be doing if you were not into entertainment and media? 

I would most like have been in the army.

  • Do you have regrets? If yes what are the regrets and what would you have done differently?

No regrets whatsoever. We are a sum of our experiences. I would be all I am today if I had a different life journey than the one that made me the person I am today. And I totally love the man I am still becoming. So yea… no regrets. #BlackHulk

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