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AccueilA la uneJames Fru Suh, CEO of Empire Media Group: "We welcome the 02...

James Fru Suh, CEO of Empire Media Group: « We welcome the 02 Awards received this year from the African Brand Awards 2023 in Nigeria »

For the third consecutive time (2019, 2022 and 2023), marketing and communications consultancy Empire Media Group, based in Cameroon's economic capital (Douala), has just been awarded two major prizes by the African Brand Awards in Nigeria. As was the case last year, the company was awarded the prize for "Best CEO of the marketing and communications consultancy agency of the year", as well as the prize for "Best customer service of the year", at the African Brand Awards ceremony held in Lagos on 27 May. Its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), James Fru Suh, talks in this interview about the positive impact of these awards on the company he heads. He also gives details of the challenges facing the advertising market in Cameroon and Africa.

(EcoFinances.Net) – Hello Chairman! And thank you for granting us this interview at a time when the advertising market in Cameroon is facing real challenges.

James Fru Suh: Good morning! Thank you for taking an interest in me and our industry!

EFN: You’ve just come back from Nigeria, where, at the end of May 2023, you took part in an important event relating to your sector of activity. Can you tell us more about it?

We received an invitation from the African Brand Awards to take part in an awards ceremony in the great African country of Nigeria. I personally took part as a representative of our company, Empire Media Group.

EFN: What awards did you receive at this year’s African Brand Awards ceremony?

We received the Customer Service Award and the Leadership in Business Management Award.

EFN: How did you feel about this good news, given that it’s not the first time you’ve won an award from the African Brand Awards?

Once again, we were very happy. Because when we were told that there were other awards this year, we thought it was the Customer Service Award, because everything we do is aimed at ensuring that our customer service in Africa is the best. And when we got the call to tell us that, in addition to this award, there would be a CEO Awards for leadership, we were delighted.

EFN: What added value do these new awards bring to a company like Empire Media Group?

It shows, both nationally and internationally, that our company is growing and positioning itself in the same segment as the giants of the advertising industry worldwide. It proves that we are following in the footsteps of the greats in our sector. Today, what we’re doing is making leadership central to our business. Because when leadership is at a very high level, it inevitably has an impact on the quality of the work that our employees do for our customers. And that can only lead to genuine customer satisfaction.

EFN: What do you think led the African Brand Awards jury to award you these two major prizes in West Africa this year?

You see, we have a website where anyone can go to check things out and contact the customers who put their trust in us and so on. They’ve undoubtedly done their homework and been seduced by our way of doing things (either with employees or customers) and come up with the results that have enabled them to set their sights on us.

As was the case last year, the company was awarded the prize for « Best CEO of the marketing and communications consultancy agency of the year », as well as the prize for « Best customer service of the year », at the African Brand Awards ceremony held in Lagos on 27 May.

EFN: Winning these awards this year proves that Empire Media Group is undoubtedly one of the best advertising agencies in its field. Can you give us an idea of the kind of work you do on a daily basis to ensure real customer satisfaction?

Today, as in the past, we find that we get information from customers according to their needs. That’s the trick our company uses. We make sure that the services provided to customers are the best. And because we already know what the customer wants (expressed needs), we use this information with certain market data to ensure that the customer stands out once their product is present on our various devices. We do ‘Super Sign’ work like the others, but when you look at our structures (presence and notoriety), you can see straight away that we didn’t come into this market to play.

EFN: What sets you apart from the competition throughout West Africa, given that you’ve been the best for at least the last three or four years?

As I like to tell you so often, it’s the WORK. You have to ensure that the WORK ordered by the client is carried out diligently. You must never leave the slightest loophole. My role, as DG or CEO of this company, is to watch and detect any complaints the customer may have about our work, and to put things right. When I see a fault, it’s certain that the customer will see it too. And my role is to make sure that doesn’t happen. Once the product has been designed and deployed on our various installations in the city, I come along afterwards to check it personally. This enables me to give them a briefing which, at the end, enables any shortcomings to be corrected so that the customer is happy. All this is to ensure that the customer is extremely satisfied with the quality of the service provided.

EFN: Who are the major advertisers who place their trust in you today in Cameroon and on a regional scale?

We have a number of major brands in our portfolio. I can’t name them all here, but we have brands like Boissons du Cameroun (SABC) who put their trust in us. We’re always available when they need us for a campaign. We run the campaign, sometimes giving them 90% or 100% satisfaction. The reason is that we control what we want to deliver as a service in order to satisfy the customer. In addition to Boissons du Cameroun, we also have Coca-Cola, which has just joined our portfolio. We have Zenithe Assurance, which is one of the biggest insurance companies in the country. There’s also the PAD (Port Autonome de Douala), academic bodies such as IUC Cameroun, and so on. In short, there are a lot of companies that put their trust in us today. Everything we do is designed to satisfy our customers.

James Fru Suh, CEO of Empire Media Group, shortly after receiving one of the two prestigious awards for communications compani

EFN: During the African Brand Awards ceremony that you recently attended in Nigeria, what caught your attention most during the discussions with your colleagues?

We talked a lot about the advertising market in West Africa and on the African continent. In fact, I’ll give you an exclusive piece of information. We talked about the possibility of forging partnerships, because we are in the process of launching a communications platform that will be accessible to everyone. One of the reasons for this is that the budget for communications is a little tight at the moment because of the economic climate. Worse still, those with the budget are not communicating as they would like. Over the twelve (12) months of the year, some only communicate for half the year, while others barely reach ten months out of twelve. All this is because the budget is not consistent. This led us to think of a solution that would enable everyone to communicate better throughout the twelve months of the year. Another advantage of this platform is that advertisers will be able to indicate their planned communication budget for the current or future financial year. We’ve had a lot of discussions with the partners and we’ve understood a lot of things.

Although Cameroon allocates a fairly substantial budget for communication every year, partners and colleagues in other West African countries find us a little shy here. They say that we communicate as if we were afraid. Which is true! Companies here are working hard, innovating and putting new products on the market, but they are reluctant to put in the resources needed to make them famous.

EFN: How is the outdoor advertising market in Cameroon today?

On a regional scale (West Africa), the advertising market is doing very well in most countries, unlike in Cameroon where things are a bit timid. When you see the communication sites (installations) over there, you can see that they are very advanced. Because they’ve invested a lot. But we also encourage Cameroon. Because, for example, we don’t have as dense a population as Nigeria. I’m talking about the market. So we can’t say that they are much stronger than we are. Because the deployment of advertising there is also a function of the size of their market. However, I have to admit that our market has a bit of a problem. Here, we see companies that are making substantial sales but not communicating. This is probably because the top management feel that the company is already sufficiently well known. But this is a real danger to the company’s development. With an attitude like that, the company could face major difficulties, or even disappear, if a competitor enters the market and starts investing in communication. These are things we have already seen in our environment.

EFN: Does the rise of ICTs and online advertising represent a threat or an advantage for the traditional advertising market, including billposting?

We can’t see it as a threat. Because, in principle, all this has to be managed by an advertising network. It’s even a new source of revenue, if the advertising network takes care of it. Unfortunately, this is not yet the case. To communicate on Facebook, we need to segment Facebook by region. For example, to communicate on Facebook in the Littoral region, Empire Media Group is in charge. So if an advertiser wants to post an ad on Facebook in the Littoral region, they first go through Empire Media Group, where they buy the digital space they need.

EFN: Unfortunately, that’s not yet the case…

Yes, it is! It’s not yet the case because it’s new and the regulations haven’t yet got to grips with it. As is already the case elsewhere, if, for example, you go into large spaces (such as banks or supermarkets) to install a screen to broadcast information about your company, you manage this with the advertising department. Otherwise, Mincom will hit you. Because if you’re not an advertising network, you don’t have the right to make advertising information available to the public. Whether indoor or outdoor. Where the masses come in and see advertising on screens and so on, it’s an advertising network that has installed that. It’s because we haven’t yet exploited this niche with the State (Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitter, etc.) that this field is still undeveloped. Because the broadcasting of any advertising message must be governed by Mincom and the regulatory texts.

Interview by Joseph Roland Djotié

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