Filed in Entertainment by on October 9, 2011

Tokini Peterside: Brainy beauty with marketing brawn
Sunday, October 09,  2011
•Tokini Peterside

Tokini Peterside won the Future Awards Corporate Professional of the Year; the 26-year-old lady is the Communication and Events Manager for Moet Hennessy, where she manages the Media and Public Relations.

The first class law graduate is also the brain behind Hennessy Artistry. Recently, she spoke with Sunday Sun on how she had been able to weather the storm in a male-dominated business climate in Nigeria. Excerpts…

Hennessy Artistry used to be a talent hunt show for young and aspiring artistes, what is its focus now?
Actually, it wasn’t, but I can understand why a lot of people feel that way. Hennessy Artistry was actually started in 2006 by Hennessy in US, and it came in response to the relationship growing between Hennessey brands and the music industry.

It started as a concert with some very popular international stars in the US then. The Hennessy brand then decided this formula could be replicated in other countries of the world. So, by 2007 Hennessy Artistry started in other countries, but what makes it different and interesting from other musical programmes of other brands is that it allows each country the flexibility to turn it to whatever they feel is best for the music industry in each climate.

In Nigeria, we have had different format of Hennessy Artistry, in 2007 we had a competition among bartenders in different nightclubs in the country. In 2008, we had a competition among DJs, in 2009 we had a talent competition, which was the first, and I think the media did justice to Hennessy Artistry. So, everybody recalls the 2009 event because, what we did was to ask some top music producers to bring forward promising musicians and so we put them through a competition. We had Ice Prince, Mo’Cheddah, Flames, Jimmy Flakes and Blaze competing in an exciting series of events that worked well for Hennessy Artistry.

But last year, we realized a lot of people were starting to see Hennessy Artistry as a talent contest, which is really not what it was. So, we changed the format to collaboration as opposed to competition and that was when we started bringing artistes together.

The song composed for Hennessy, is it going to be a jingle for the brand?
No, it is not a jingle for the brand. It is just a way for us to participate in the music industry. Banky W, Tiwa, Eldee and Jesse Jagz are some of the three brightest stars now in Nigeria. They are really exciting people to work with. For us, it is just great to feature them so that many of our fans would be able to hear and enjoy their music. It is also a great element to add to the lineup we have. You are not going to see it on TV as an advert. It is about appreciating music and giving fans the opportunity to unwind.

Are they coming out with a full album?
It is just one track. The track is called Toast to the Good Life.

So, you guys have a title now, but the last time you said people should send suggestions for the title, has this changed?
Yes, it didn’t have a title, but we had so many entries coming on facebook, twitter, bella naija and beat FM. Many people suggested different names. In fact, Toast to the Good Life was actually the name Banky, Eldee and Tiwa wanted for the track. Another name that came second was Raise Your Glasses. But Toast to Good Life was the overwhelming choice.

What is your experience as a young Head of Marketing?
It is very interesting and challenging. Hennessy is a brand that is growing gradually in Nigeria every day, and every week, we have so many interesting proposals coming in. For the first time we are also advertising. Last year we started advertising even though my team is still a very small one. Also on trade marketing, we are achieving fantastic targets. And we are working at a time Nigerians have great love for Hennessy. So, it is interesting.

Is Hennessy the only brand you handle?
No, I handle about five brands, not just Hennessy. These include Moet and Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon, and Belvedere.

You studied law, why did you dump law for this?
(Laughs) I think I have found my way with marketing. It excites me. I work on different types of projects as you can see in the Hennessy Artistry. In Hennessy I get to work with music, and with some of the biggest names, I get to work with upcoming artistes. So, it is really fantastic.

Is law so boring?
(Laughs) Well, when I was studying law, I was really thinking of entertainment law. I was thinking of trying to go as exciting as possible within the law and I changed track for a number of reasons. I like things to happen very quickly, I also need my attention on so many things, but with law you have a long contract. It’s great because you learn to pay attention to details, you are very thorough, and you become accurate. But I am the kind of person that would be in a car while having meetings with different people. This type of career can let me do that.

Then, why law in the first place?
For many young people, when you are asked to choose a career, you really don’t know what you want to do. And I have seen that this is the case with many of us. Take the case of our musicians, for instance, Eldee is a qualified architect, I think he must have spent seven years getting his qualification. But has he designed a building? I don’t think so. But, he is now one of the top rappers. Banky W is an engineer; I don’t see him working on any oil pipeline or anything like that. But he is now a fantastic musician. For many people, your first degree is usually the area you are strong academically. I was very good with words.

Are you writing any book now?
I am not writing any book, but I used to write a column for NEXT newspaper, I used to review food restaurant and fashion for different publications. I dreamt of being an author. I actually went on a course that Chimamanda Adiche and several other authors attended. I then decided I still wanted something related to business. However, mixing business with creativity is what marketing allows you to do.

You came out with a first class and in many cases people with such results tend to tilt towards academics. Do you have such intention?
It is interesting you said this, because I also like teaching. Teaching is something I have done from time to time in the past, but it’s more private tutorial. I also come from a family of teachers. My grandmother is a school principal, even though we are asking her to retire. My mother had taught in the past. But academia in terms of research, writing papers and being a professor, I don’t think so. But maybe you are right; I am very interested in knowledge.

Part of why I work in marketing for several brands is because I love researching on popular culture. I may not know the names of every musician in Nigeria, but I make it my business and I love to know who is at the top of the game. If something also comes up in fashion, I also love to be abreast with current trends, which work very well when you are a marketer. This helps me a lot because by the time someone walks into my office with a proposal, I would have heard about the person in the media. I am always on the Internet. Maybe I took my academic ‘geek-ness’ into my marketing work (laughs).

What was your childhood like?
My childhood was great, and it was interesting. I am the first child.
You were named Professional of the Year by Future Awards this year, what was the experience like?
It was very encouraging and nice; it means the job I am doing with Moet Hennessy, which I love doing, has been witnessed by a lot of people for me to be considered for the award.

The target audience for Hennessy Artistry is mainly the youth, have you been able to reach them?
The great thing about music is that it is not only for the youth. One thing I discovered in Nigeria is that the youth is defined as people between 18 and 40, which is a very broad range, and with music it is one of the few platforms you would be able to spread that broad range.

You know a 40-year-old would still want to listen to Banky W, and the 18-year-old too. So, I believe any brand working with music is already automatically connecting with the youth. But we happen to have a sophisticated premium brand, so it requires a particular type of way to work with music. And with Hennessy Artistry, I believe we have achieved that this year, we have worked with three individuals, who are incredible professionals, aside being very good looking and the ultimate package, they are also focused professionals; they love what they do. They have been so dedicated to the project and are a real blast to work with.

How are you surviving in this male-dominated business world?
Is it a male-dominated career, in marketing, we have a lot of women. In my team, I have two women working with me and I am trying to get a guy to join so it won’t look like I’m discriminating. But, I think business in Nigeria is male-dominated, maybe because I am quite young, I don’t see it as a challenge. In fact, many times, especially in this kind of job and my kind of brand, you require somebody that is in tune with aesthetics, because our brand is on premium lifestyle, which requires the appreciation of beauty and elegance, and most times this requires a woman to handle.


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