ENTERTAINMENT STARS WITH TOMI ON LA VERONICA MAGAZINE
What can you call a man who has explored almost all his God given talent, from being a semi-pro footballer, to a recording artiste, to a popular sport pundit on TV and Radio, to advertising agency creative director working on exceptional TV and radio commercials for multinational companies and now to head of business for a multinational media company? Obviously, it takes a man with ‘extraordinary qualities’ to do all these. Fortunately, we caught up with this great entertainment and Media personality recently, regardless of his tight schedules and he spoke to Otekunrin Oluwatomi of LA VERONICA MAGAZINE in an exclusive interview. Come along as we journey into the world of our entertainment star for the month of June in person of the award winning, media and entertainment guru MR BADA AKINTUNDE-JOHNSON, Country manager (Nigeria) for Viacom International Media, Network Africa. He is saddled with the entire scope of Viacom’s business operations in the Nigeria market, overseeing brands such as MTV, MTV Base, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET and MTV Shuga. He was awarded as one of the ten most powerful people under 40 in the media industry in Nigeria by Ynaija and he is also a public speaker who is passionate about changing Africa.
LVM: In your word, ‘I am a big believer in Africa and her people, living to inspire young Africans through the power of storytelling, through art, culture, music, film and football and some of my most potent passion point for driving social change and lending my voice’. Sir, can you shed more light on this statement?
BADA: Africa is the youngest continent in the world. With that predominantly youth population, if you want to connect and influence them you need to use what they like to pass across your message. Failure to do that is why a lot of churches are losing their youth worshippers because churches especially the orthodox ones are still using old means to get this new generation. These guys want to groove, turn up and dance even in church and church is still singing slow hymns. Just using a more appealing means to get across to these young minds is always going to be key. So, the idea is to demonstrate using their passion points how they can use their talents and minds positively to change their own lives and the lives of people around them.
LVM: How do you manage to put out content that reach close to 100 million people daily?
BADA: We try our best to put out good content, youth focused programmes like MTV Shuga which is one of the best and most impactful content ever on African TV. Shuga has helped propagate strong behavioral messaging around HIV/AIDS and other social ills. I can categorically say that MTV Shuga is a blessing to African youths. We have produced several seasons of life changing content for different audiences in different countries and will continue to do more.
LVM: As an authority in media and entertainment do you think music is underrated or music is overrated?
BADA: Music is actually not overrated. Can never be. Music alongside Sports and Film will continue to grow in importance.
LVM: Genres like ‘rap’ is gradually going to extinction, thank God for artistes like Vector, MI and some other artistes.
BADA: See this new generation wants to dance and groove, that is why we see rap artiste tend more towards pop because of the audience demands. Danceable songs sell more than hard core rap most times in Nigeria because that is what the people want. That said, there are people who will always love rap. They may not be in huge numbers to make it commercially viable but they exist.
LVM: Some brands pick celebrities based on their followership on social media to represent their brands most times over influencers. As an authority in brand management. What can you say about this?
BADA: Brands want value and want access to different consumer segments and groups. With the evolution of brand influencers with followers who believe in them so much, they can help brands influence their followers to take actions in favor of the brand. These brand influencers may not necessarily have millions of followers like the big name celebrities but they can influence their followers to buy your product because their followers believe so much in them and take their endorsement of products and services very seriously.
LVM: Tell us about your high fashion sense.
BADA: Dress the way you want to be addressed says a popular adage. Every outfit matters. You can’t pretend not to like people that dress well. Looking good has always been a part of me. If I remember correctly, I won a lot of neatest or best dressed prizes through different levels of schooling. It’s just a part of me. You may never have a second opportunity to make the first impression so every time I show up, I show up looking presentable at least.
LVM: Nigerians are more passionate and drawn to foreign leagues over Nigerian local leagues. what can you say to this?
BADA: You can’t compare the two. The foreign leagues are better packaged. They are well promoted and they have recognizable players, beautiful football pitches, great broadcast/media coverage across the board, the whole works. Most Nigerians can’t even mention 4 Kano pillars players but can mention all the players in Chelsea’s development squad. Who covers our local league? We certainly can support foreign leagues and at the same time support ours. It’s the case in SA and other parts of the world but there is a lot of work that needs to be done to create the appetite and appeal for the local football product.
LVM: What do you think is happening to Nigerian local leagues and when do you think Nigeria will win the nations cup after 2013 CAF and the world cup again?
BADA: When the managers, administrators and the authorities in our football ecosystem are done playing politics and they want to get football running as a business, then we will start taking the right steps. Most local clubs in Nigeria belong to government. The environment needs to be such that Nigerians with the means can see the commercial viability of investing in clubs and run it as a business for ROI. Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City are not owned government. They are owned by private individuals and that is why they see results. It is something we can achieve. Let’s hope we can do well at the next AFCON with the line-up of great talents. In the coming FIFA World Cup let’s pray we get to quarter finals. We are always hoping and praying because the basic structures are lacking and there is no sound strategy or plan behind the activities we involve ourselves in hence the poor results.
LVM: What do you do for fun?
BADA: I like to listen to music, dance, have intelligent conversations, play video games, workout and swim sometimes.
LVM: What life lessons have you learnt from being “made of more”?
BADA: The biggest lesson I have learnt is that you can be whoever you want to be and you can rise to any height regardless of the unfavorable environment of circumstances you find yourself.
LVM: You created some unforgettable TV commercials for multinationals as a creative director. What is the inspiration behind all the commercials?
BADA: I am both a born and a trained creative. I started making music early. I have always had a well above average imagination and always knew I could create things with the power of my ideas. It is a whole lot of work, from creating TV commercials to jingles, to posters to billboards. I had amazing groups of creatives working with me too. It was an amazing period of my life especially when I was a creative director for Globacom. Those 4 amazing years, I had the opportunity of working on exciting campaigns and created a lot of award winning commercials.
LVM: You are one of the exceptional sport analyst in Nigeria. Tell us about your love for sport?
BADA: I have always loved Sports. I started actively following football from age seven. Played in the Pepsi football academy and represented my school teams at different levels. I still play leisurely when I have the time to. I am an avid Arsenal fan and I have been analyzing football in the media for 14 years now. Football is more than a passion for me. Alongside music, it is a key component of my life. I’m in a polygamous matrimony with soccer and music. No divorce for life.
LVM: As an incurable Arsenal fan, when do you think Arsenal football club will be great again and win a major league?
BADA: To be honest not soon, because there are other clubs who are ahead of our project. Teams like Man City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. We can start competing for trophies again if we invest in the squad. Arsenal Football Club needs to bridge the gap with an investment of about 250 to 300 million pounds in the squad.
LVM: Behind every successful man there is an amazing woman, tell us how you have kept a happy family?
BADA: Family is priority and family is everything. If marriage is not important to you get into it. If family isn’t going to be top priority then don’t start it. Why can’t I be the best husband to my wife? People make marriage looks so hard but it is not. Marriage is good and my wife is an amazing and supportive woman. Men in the entertainment industry can be happily married. Most people aren’t ready to make their relationships or marriage work. They’ll rather make a lot of excuses. It’s hard work but so is career. People make whatever they prioritize work, somehow.
LVM: You think you don’t have fans but so many people are looking up to you. What can you say to these people who you are inspiring?
BADA: (smiles).. Yes, you are right Tomi, I said that in one of my interviews that I don’t think I have fans. I am not an actor neither am I an artiste so when people walk up to me to tell me, “I inspire them I’m a little surprised but I feel privileged all the same and do not take it for granted. So to those who consider me as their role model or hero and those who don’t even know me yet please keep working hard, keep working smart and never stop believing that you can be anything you want to be.
LVM: Thank you for your time.
BADA : It’s my pleasure. Thank you for coming all the way. Well done.