Home Interview/Opinion Our DNA at Aster Integrated Marketing Limited is tilted towards inclusiveness and developing young talent – Tolulope Medebem, COO/Lead Consultant, Aster IML
Interview/Opinion - July 7, 2023

Our DNA at Aster Integrated Marketing Limited is tilted towards inclusiveness and developing young talent – Tolulope Medebem, COO/Lead Consultant, Aster IML


Aster Integrated Marketing Limited (AsterIML) is a young experiential marketing agency delivering activations, event management services and brand management among others. The young firm has been able to hold its own within the challenging IMC sector through its focus in offering tailor-made solutions to clients for the realization of marketing goals.

Founded by one of Nigeria’s foremost experiential marketing professionals, Tolulope A. Medebem, Aster Integrated Marketing Limited (AsterIML) has been able to imprint its foothold on every client it associates with, in it’s four years of operations. Though the Agency might be young, Tolulope however boasts of over two decades experience within the industry, experience which has come handy in steering the firm to enviable heights. AsterIML is blessed with a young crop of staff who are passionate to deliver on every job.

In this interview with MediaConsortium at her Ogudu GRA office in Lagos, Tolulope talks on the footprint of Aster Integrated Marketing Limited (AsterIML) and other industry issues. Excerpt:

Young staff structure

Yes, we have a young staff structure. I was having a discussion with a senior colleague some time back and I told him that the policy at AsterIML now is to recruit young people, and this we have been doing for two years, post Covid. Covid taught us a lot of things, I believe. I lost a number of staff post Covid as some of them came back with all sorts of demands. Our team had a meeting with our HR consultant and at the end, it was decided that we revamped the company structure, if we catch them young it would be great for the organization because, we will be growing together. They will learn and improve, knowing that within the period they remain with us, we will give them the best and they also reciprocate with their best which is a mutually beneficially relationship.

These two years have been very interesting, maybe because of the kind of people we employ. I say to them during interviews (I try to ensure I meet with everyone we employ) that, their course of study does not really matter but, why us? How does this agency / work interest them? How eager are they to learn? I am not exactly young, but, I say to my colleagues, that I am always eager to learn as we would be learning and growing together.

In the same vein, we have had staff who left to further their education abroad. Some others left to work elsewhere. It is not in our character to hold anyone down whenever they want to pursue their future endeavours. As I said it is either you are staying with us or you take the experience learned from us to other places.

The truth is that, we are still signing references for them even till date.

Years ago, I remember one of my bosses trying to encourage me to adopt the Machiavellian style of leadership, maybe he felt I was too ‘soft’ on the staff BUT I guess leadership styles differ. I have been in this industry for over twenty years dealing and or leading and I am not sure my style has significantly changed.

One of the reasons we have an open office, except with the finance and admin staff, is to showcase and encourage oneness in our operation. That does not mean that, as colleagues, we are disrespectful of each other’s space and all, it just ensures that even working on different accounts, no one is a silo as I believe everyone should have an idea what’s going on generally on all accounts.  This was actually a learning post-covid.

Losing staff to other companies

The truth is that, I like developing bonds with my staff, strangely that bond keeps us going. I had an experience – I was sitting down one day having had a rough day and one of my staff came to me and said, can I give you a hug? The person gave me a hug and it was some kind of comfort and it made my day. I look at some of these experiences and I cannot but have a bond with my staff.

Our company DNA is bigger than anyone of us and truth is, it affects our employment process and we have maybe made mistakes once or twice BUT for the most, it’s been a leading factor for us all.

Within our system everybody is accorded respect. There may be disagreements over issues and all these happen within the boardroom but, it remains there, and once we leave the boardroom it is back to business for the good of the agency.

This same boardroom is the only place we can ever admit to being ‘stupid’. After the corrections, grilling and all, I can tell you that no one will go out feeling stupid.

Navigating through challenges in Marcomms industry

We obviously cannot be using post covid as an excuse any longer, because we have long gone past that. Post covid, everybody had to get back on their feet, clients had to connect and communicate with their consumers and so gradually things are coming back to place. What may have slowed down business this period is the election. A lot of brands had slowed down to see how the election pans out.

In one of the stakeholders meetings we had sometime last year, Sir Steve Omojafor said a lot of things that many resonated with. One of the things he talked about was partnership. According to him, gone were the days when clients were partners with their agencies, now it’s almost a master-servant relationship.

Part of why I believe in the ARCON law is that hopefully, at the end of it all, we would have a symbiotic relationship, partnering, because at the end of the day we are all part of the same ecosystem. We give life to each other. If we continue the way we are, agencies will close shop, and if all the agencies die what happens? I heard that some businesses want to put up agencies inhouse and I wonder how sustainable this will be?

Together, we can come up with new ideas and suggestions to the ARCON boss in order to improve the industry, if it is believed that some of the ARCON laws are not working properly or well instituted. It is a revolving project that is meant be a win-win for everyone in spite the upheaval that came with it.


For me, marketing is trying to sell something and while doing that, also getting opinions and feedback about why the brand or product matters. Marketing is not only pushing it out but also understanding why its needed, and why that particular product or brand.

Marketing is not about dropping high falutin jargons that we read in various marketing journals, it’s about understanding what is actually being presented to the prospective buyer / user. Communication is giving and receiving feedback, essentially, Marketing is also about understanding why the user needs the product, and why it has to be a particular product or brand.

Aster Marketing in digital circle

Digital isn’t the core of our business BUT over the years we have done excellently well on this for some of our clients. The industry is at the point where some clients would prefer you do it all and for that, we actually find ourselves partnering (we have quite a number of collaborations that we are proud to be in).

Unique jobs executed

At Aster Integrated Marketing Limited (AsterIML), it is our pride to working clients and leaving positive / lasting impression on their brands or businesses. One of our best was at inception when we pitched and won because we included an experiential angle which they didn’t request BUT we thought would work. We implemented such that feedback from client was ‘best numbers in terms of participation ever’ and this clinched that retainer. Over the years, we have run through experiential, digital and even media for this client and it’s been consistent. We always look back and feel happy about it because it was a very special win for us.

More often than not, when we are on the field, we have a fair knowledge about how people are thinking. Our job is to ensure that we connect and that is why we are talking about experiential, to create some form of experience. We usually advise our clients that if they really want to create an experience (a bond of some sort), there are certain things to do and ways to go about it. This is to ensure that the impact vis-à-vis spend and ROI is felt. For us, when we look back, we are excited have created that impact and worked on that particular project.

DNA of Aster Marketing

I honestly don’t know how to explain this BUT we do have a DNA and over the years, it’s part of what has kept us running as a team of young professionals. Working at or with AsterIML (client or staff) should improve you, it’s a partnership and hopefully, a partnership that works.

I remembered a time when we were working on a project with contributions from every member of the team. Unfortunately, they lost everything, everything disappeared, till today no one can actually explain what went wrong. Anyways, I came into the office around that time and it was QUIET! Very different normal and I found out what had happened. Truth, I couldn’t help them and I was not about to get in their way, so I made some arrangements and left for the day, hoping to come in the next day to start all over. Guess what? By the time I came in the next day, they were done and possibly even better than the original. They had started all over, stayed on late and finished it before the next day’s work. That’s who we are at AsterIML!

Relationship with client despite ARCON law

For some reason we as AsterIML have not had it so bad with our clients. The law is a law that has been put in place as a win-win for both agency and client and I believe that as we navigate these waters, we will all somehow find what works and what does not. As with any law, it’s a process and hopefully, we would all walk the process successfully.

My thought, if we are all open minded about the law, long term, it would not be such a bad idea.

Experiential marketing and the deserved patronage

Experiential marketing is constantly evolving, to get the deserved position with the marcomms industry but the major issue would be cost / costing. The times we are in should be the reason why all clients and brands wants to explore or embrace this marketing genre (because it connects directly with the consumer) but there are so many challenges making this an ongoing ‘battle’.

For example, a client wanted to put up a drone show and the only person that could set it was coming from Dubai working in conjunction with some people in Nigeria. After putting all the cost elements together, we had to settle for something else.

Experiential marketing honestly will be the ideal platform to connect with the consumers, creating various experiences and that is why we all keep innovating and trying new things. We cannot say because it’s expensive we won’t do these things or even try. No! Regardless of how expensive experiential marketing may thought or seen to be, somehow, we have got to find a way around it, to ensure we create experiences that wow the consumers and turn out great in terms of ROI for the client / brand. These are not mutually exclusive BUT it’s always important to remember that at the end of this whole spectrum there is a brand that needs to benefit from this activity – even if it’s only endearing now for future benefits.

Relevance of AsterIML

There are so many ahead of us in the industry. Truth, we try our best to remain relevant within the industry. Many brands and people that we have worked with bring repeat jobs, we also get jobs through referrals and always on the lookout for new clients.  We believe in consistency and it’s out thought that this also factors with staying relevant. Over the years, integrity and being able to add value (in various ways) to our partners and clients has helped us to build our relationships to some level of partnership.

A constant reminder internally – Do your work like nobody is seeing you and like all eyes are on you. Regardless of whether you are being see or not, do your work well. We / I want to be relevant always within the marketing communications industry and would continue to work on developing and innovating to hopefully make a difference and remain that BUT, we won’t be doing anything untoward.

Preferred perception about Aster Integrated Marketing Limited (AsterIML)

We would like to be referred to as ‘those young professionals, with seamless preparation. Those guys that go over and beyond to create experiences that connect totally’ for their various brands.

Do you have a compelling story to tell? Contact us via our email: espinewsng@gmail.com or call/WhatsApp on 08032519246.

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