As an ex-CEO of Guinness Nigeria, Seni Adetu would know where the largest chunk of his marketing budget was going. It was into media. In 2015, advertisers spent N97.9 billion, 5.2% higher than what they spent the previous year. So, it makes sense that his first marketing communications enterprise as an entrepreneur would be a media planning and buying company. He has named that company Algorithm Media.
Having been a marketing professional for more than 30 years, Adetu knows what impresses the lot of brand managers, marketing directors, corporate communications directors, and CEOs who select the agencies to manage advertising, public relations, experiential, and media. To catch the attention of these people, Adetu launched Algorithm Media on February 9 with an international affiliation to GroupM. Now, combine this foreign alliance with Adetu’s tremendous network in corporate Nigeria and you realise that his new agency is off to a terrific start.
Although the biggest media spenders in the country, such as telcos and big bank brands, are already taken by MediaCom, MediaReach OMD, Media Perspectives, and Starcom, available accounts still outnumber pedigreed media agencies. What this means is that with the relationships he has cultivated over the years, Adetu can now ride the demand in the market to make his company profitable within a few months.
Already, it looks like he has the attention of some of the most influential C-Suite executives who also happen to have the deepest pockets. At his company’s introductory event, which was a panel discussion on innovation in a recession, he was flanked by the Chairman, Fidelity Bank Plc, Ernest Ebi; the President, Coca-Cola West Africa, Peter Njonjo; Nnamdi Okonkwo, MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank; and the CEO of Jumia, Juliet Anammah.
Before he moved to Guinness/Diageo where he spent the last 10 years of his career, Adetu was in Coca-Cola. He was the managing director, Coca-Cola International, English West Africa (excluding Nigeria), with his office in Ghana. This was after three years as the first Nigerian and African marketing director for Coca-Cola, Nigeria.
In 2006, he joined Diageo and for a while operated from the UK office of the distiller. Not long after that, he was appointed the first ever African managing director/CEO and Vice Chairman of Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited, with headquarters in Accra. And in 2009, Seni Adetu became the group managing director/CEO of Diageo East Africa and East African Breweries Limited. Subsequently, he was transferred back home as Managing Director, Guinness Nigeria.
Adetu’s departure from Guinness in 2014 was contentious, however. His two years of running the company, according to reports, was laden with loss of market share, dipping revenue, and a head-on collision with APCON (the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria), which wagged its finger at Adetu for contravening its conventions as regards alcohol advertising.
Adetu was also named in the messy controversy relating to SCANAD’s failed attempt to open a shop in Nigeria, after unsuccessfully trying to buy 51% of Prima Garnet. It was alleged that, while he still ran Guinness, Adetu held stock in SCANAD, a company owned by his long-time friend, the South African Bharat Thakrah.
Adetu was said to have taken umbrage at APCON’s decision to promulgate a new rule, the controversial 5th Code of Advertising Practice. The 5th Code made it a little more difficult for foreigners to own a majority share in any Nigerian advertising agency. At the time, APCON was headed by Lolu Akinwunmi, founder of Prima Garnet.
For months, Guinness was in a PR battle with APCON, and the company’s top brass in the UK were displeased with that. Eventually, they chose not to renew his contract.
But Seni Adetu returned to the headlines mid 2016 when Fidelity Bank appointment him an independent, non-executive director. It was the beginning of a remarkable career reboot, which has now culminated in the launch of Algorithm Media.