My Summer Internship In At Tolaram Group, Lagos – Nidhi From IIM Ranchi
Most of us would have seen Lagos in movies, but trust me Lagos is much more different and interesting than how it is picturized in movies and what the world usually thinks about the place. I can say that surely because I got to spend my summer this year there and that ended up being the most memorable experience of my life. This was my first trip out of India. During this internship I got to learn a lot and I got to meet some of the happiest people in the world. The locals are really warm and friendly. It may be too hard to believe because whenever we hear Nigeria, we can only think about Boko Haram. But Lagos, where I spent my summer, is beautiful. No doubt that the place is quite poor but there are two kinds of people: extremely rich and extremely poor. But even the people who are not that rich are always happy and cheerful all the time. They enjoy their life with whatever money they have.
Though it was my first experience in a corporate environment, as I am a fresher, I think Tolaram Group is one of those companies with the best culture. The very second day we had a party at Hard Rock Café. It was just a warm-up session so that everybody gets to know their mentors. They were the coolest people I have ever met.
The next day our work began. The best part which I liked about my work was the freedom I had with my project. I had to develop a marketing campaign for a comedy show. The project was divided into two parts: First, to enable maximum participation from the consumers, and second, to shortlist the top 10 videos which consisted of the voting phase. For the first part, I analysed the Facebook and Twitter pages of all the comparable brands in the FMCG sector and observed what kind of content is engaging the audience the most. I then created the content for “Minimie Comedy Bank” (Minimie is one of the brands of Tolaram Group) with the help of the agency. I was continuously working with the agency and that was the fun part because I never thought I can be so creative. I also got hands-on experience on a typical advertising agency job. To maximise the awareness about the campaign, we also carried out some university activations. We got around 400 videos for the competition.
Then I had to shortlist the videos. My mentor, his boss, two people from the agency, and I used to sit together and look at the videos. That was the funniest part as the videos were hilarious. That nation is full of immense talent. At last we came up with top 10 videos. Here the next part of my project started. I calculated the reach of the campaign till that point on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, University Activation, Promo Update (a famous blog in Nigeria where there are updates about some products’ offers) and BBM.
The maximum reach we received was through Facebook. Thus we decided to go for the voting campaign only on Facebook. There were updates on all the channels but the result had to be announced on the basis of the likes and shares of each video. Each of the top 10 candidates was called to the office of Tolaram and I shot all of their introductory videos where they had to request the audience to like and share their videos. I assure that they are the funniest people I have ever met.
I felt like a celebrity whenever I was with the Nigerians. They treat you like you are from a different world. During the first part of the project I had to go to different stores explaining to people about the campaign. Once I was outside walking on the street and suddenly two ladies in a parlour far away started shouting “OIBO”. As soon as I went to them, they all stood up and arranged a seat for me to sit. They were so happy. The manager with me explained to me that they become very happy and excited whenever they meet a foreigner. They left all of their work and started listening to my explanation about the campaign. They seemed to be quite interested in what I had to say. Suddenly a lady on the road far away started shouting “OIBO” and came running towards me and started dancing. Now when I say this, one may think “is she crazy or what?” But it’s not like that. Here hunger and poverty never come in the way of happiness. She was so happy to see me- she kept on saying “I have never hugged a white person” and hugged me twice. When I was leaving, she came to drop me to my car, opened the door, made me sit and kept on saying “BYE” until I was out of sight. I will always regret that I didn’t click a picture with her but however I will never forget the people.
Well I was talking about the second part of my project. To motivate the audience to vote, we held a prediction game where the people whose guesses will be right about the winner get a VIP ticket to the Goalfest. After 2 months, my project came to an end. To get new ideas about the next season of Comedy Bank, I carried out market research and went to universities so that I could directly talk to people and get to know what they expect from us and what all changes we can incorporate in the next season. The best part is: I created the content, I shot the videos, I did the market research, I suggested ideas, and all those were implemented and I got to see the results myself. I never thought my first experience in a corporate environment, and that too in a nation I am rarely familiar with, will be so much fun and interesting.
I am back in IIM Ranchi, but I miss Lagos each day – the apartment I lived in, the fellow interns, my mentor, the locals, especially my maid (I still remember the cake which she made for me as a surprise), some of the best people of that company (it is a long list) and especially the back-to-back late night parties. I love dancing and I think I have never danced as much as I did in Lagos my whole life.
To sum up in one sentence: “It was one heck of an experience”.