Man behind Bates Cosse,
award winning advertising company
By Nike Bakere (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Friday, July 16, 2004
"I went into the University to read law, but my father
actually came to the campus and almost physically pulled me
out of the class. His views being that lawyers are not very
honest people" says Funmi Onabolu, the Managing Director
of Bates Cosse, the company that won this year’s City
People Awards for advertising.
Onabolu started out as a broadcaster with the Nigerian Television
Authority Abeokuta, at the presentation department of the
station in 1979. "Immediately after my youth service,
I was pretty sure that what I wanted to do was broadcasting.
Before I graduated, I had done vacation jobs at OGBC twice,
I was casting news, I was also presenting programmes and I
enjoyed it very much. So, I was pretty sure this was what
I was going to do, on graduation it was the first thing I
went for. While working with NTA Abeokuta I was also freelancing
also with OGBC."
After a short while, he felt the need to gravitate towards
Lagos where the action was. He became one of the pioneer staff
at Lagos Television Channel 8 in 1980. "And on coming
to Lagos, I broadened my interest, I started out in production
and presentation. I honed many skills working at LTV 8, because
of the shortage of hands it really trained you to do many
things. In a few months; I could edit very well, I had to
present, produce and edit my own programmes twice a week.
And I was casting news along with Shakirat Bakare and Jide
Adekusibe. At that time, the station had just started the
three newscasters thing, and our boss, Taiwo Alimi, was a
fantastic man that I have a lot of respect for."
The graduate of Literature in English of the Obafemi Awolowo
University, Ile-Ife says he would have remained in broadcasting,
if television stations were privatised the way they are today.
"But, I got to a level of frustration that was unbearable
for my innate ambition, I thought that there were many things
that could be done, maybe better and quicker. I remember wanting
to do programmes and documentaries that were in my head and
the station didn’t have money to do some of these things,
I had to use my own car and resources to go and record things
that I felt were fundamental enough, like the Osun Osogbo
Festival. I only got the camera from the station and that
was it. “I felt why would British Broadcasting Corporation
(BBC) with all their crew come in to make fantastic documentary,
only to come and sell it to us or play it back for us. Why
wouldn’t we be able to document our own
circumstances, heritage and culture?" He left at the
end of 1981, after two days of working in a research company
he knew clearly that he was not cut out for it. "I had
to be doing something that was extremely creative, challenging,
my adrenaline had to be pumping at a really high level, for
me to function well. And I thought marketing communications
might do it, so I applied to a few advertising companies.
I was looking for an advertising company, where I would have
a long time career and prospects, I had offers from top advertising
companies in the country, but I opted to go into Insight Communications,
which was very young at that time, just about a year old."
For 14 years, he worked for the advertising firm and over
the years rose from a Client Service Executive to Executive
Director and Chief Operating Officer. For six and a half years
he ran the company before he left in 1995 to start his own
agency, Bates Cosse.