Lolu Akinwunmi: The Best Lesson Life Has Taught Me At 60


Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi is the Group CEO of Prima Garnet Africa (with subsidiaries like 141 Worldwide, Media Share and Lampost). One of the most respected and renowned names in Nigeria and Africa’s advertising sectors, the husband of Koko and father of two adorable sons, who just turned 60, shared some of his success secrets with YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine Publisher/Editor in Chief, AZUH ARINZE.

The former Chairman, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON, who is also a teacher and preacher, equally educated and enlightened us on some of the ingredients needed to excel in their industry as well as the landmines to avoid.

Beginning his advertising career with Lintas, as a trainee executive, he joined Promoserve after a few years and rising to the position of an account manager, before ultimately setting up Prima Garnet in 1992.

A perfect but very firm gentleman, please let’s hear the rest of the story from him…


How does it feel to finally hit the age of 60?

No strange feelings for sure; maybe just amazed at where all the years had gone. But grateful to God.

What was the first thing you did on waking up that day?

I prayed with my family and began to get ready for the book launch.

Which was the best 60th birthday gift you got?

Really, all the gifts were thoughtful and it’s hard to consider any the “best”.

What is the greatest lesson that life has taught you at 60?

Plenty! Too many! One is to trust God completely. Another is that sometimes things will not always be rosy; there will be ups and downs. Another is that you must never give up in the face of adversity, as long as you know you are doing the right things.

What and what are going to change about you now that you are 60?

Hmmmmm! Maybe I need some time to determine that. I still do pretty the same things I did at 58 and 59!

What are your regrets at 60? And also your greatest accomplishment?

Maybe I could have done some things ten years ago that I left undone. Accomplishment? Tough call. Each accomplishment will be within a context.

What is your personal definition of advertising?

Too late to have one; I have been too exposed to so many professional definitions.

What do you like most about practicing advertising?

The power to help and influence people in making choices.

What don’t you like about advertising?

It doesn’t pay enough!!!!

What is the greatest thing that advertising has done for you?

Knowledge acquisition. Because it is a multi-disciplinary profession, you must be knowledgeable and up to speed. You never stop learning. David Ogilvy said you seek after knowledge the way a pig seeks after truffles.

What hasn’t advertising done for you?

It has not always produced the perfect client.

Advertising has done a lot for you, what have you done for advertising?

I think I have used it to build and sustain brands. I have used it to serve clients. I have used it to serve the community and the nation. I have used it to impact knowledge. I have used it to grow and groom people. I have used it to develop businesses that have taken care of people, etc.

What is the commonest mistake that most advertising practitioners make?

Not investing enough in the practice to support the brand.

What makes a good advertising practitioner?

Plenty. Interest. Commitment. Knowledge. Professionalism. Fiscal responsibility. Love of the brand, etc.

What makes a good advert copy?

Ability to effectively communicate with the target.

Which is the best advert copy produced by Prima Garnet and why?

Tough one! We have written so many campaigns. Maybe if you asked for my favourite?

Which is the copy that your agency produced, but with the benefit of hindsight now, you don’t really like?

Cannot immediately recall any.

Other than not giving bribe, what are the other things that stand Prima Garnet out?

Lol. I think we create bloody exciting campaigns and are very professional account handlers!

Some people attain success in advertising, but lose focus along the way. Thus not being able to sustain it. Where do you think they normally get it wrong?

A thousand things could be responsible. Not investing in the business. Decline in quality of work. Taking clients for granted. Etc.

We just saw your debut book, Skin for Skin: The Prima Garnet Story, when should we expect the 16 or so others, that you said you still have?

Certainly not simultaneously! Working hard on the next one and it should be out in 2019 by God’s grace.

Do you feel bad about not being able to speak Igbo, despite observing your NYSC in the present Ebonyi State?

Let’s say I would have loved to have been able to speak. And I did try, but most of my Igbo friends ended up speaking English to me, except when they wanted to teach me the naughty words!

What constitutes a good business/company?
Depends first on the objective, vision, etc. Then the model. The preparation made towards take off and sustenance. The management. Commitment to quality, etc. Many factors.

Who would you describe as a good staff?
Committed to the company’s ideals and doing all within his/her power to achieve these individually and as part of the collective.

Other than music and reading, what other things excite and enchant you?

Excite, yes. Enchant, No! Supporting worthy causes. Advocacy. Meeting and interacting with brilliant minds. Witty people.

No doubt, God has been so good to you at 60. What more do you want from Him?

Grace to complete all He has purposed for my life and at the end of it all to spend eternity with Him.

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