EPISODE 15 TRANSCRIPT – Philip Osei-Hwere

Hello and welcome to Future Fuzz, the Digital Marketing podcast. YouTube Buzz is sponsored by Shopala.

Hey, everybody. Welcome to the next edition of future first podcast. It’s a great pleasure to have Philip here on the show today. Good afternoon to me, Phillip. Good morning to you. How are you?

Hey, good morning, Justin. Thanks. Thanks for having me on your podcast today.

You said an absolute pleasure. So you’ll have to please inform me how we pronounce your surname.

Right now. I’ve been listening to your other podcast and I know you’ve got the skills. You’ve been doing very well with the other days. Yeah. So it’s, Osei-hwere

Brilliant. A Pleasure to have you on the show. We met at the stitch summer party recently and didn’t wait.

Yes, we did within the year.

So where are you calling from today? Tell our listeners.

So I’m actually in London. In Orpington in London.

There are worse places to be right in the north of England in London.

We kind of complain the weather’s nice. I mean, we expected rain, but I think we’ve had good weather the past couple of weeks. For sure, yeah. Yeah.

It’s raining in Amsterdam, which we desperately need. So that’s awesome. Yeah, you’re right. So I saw your profile. And it really jumped out to me, Philip, so you’ve been working? You’ve basically the founder, if I’m, if I’m right, of Eagle agency in London. And you’ve been doing that for nearly 19 years. Is

that correct? Yeah, that’s right. Yes.

So you know, one thing that struck me and one thing I try and have on the podcast is we’ve had a lot of women coming on to the podcast from marketing backgrounds, or entrepreneur backgrounds to speak about empowerment. And then something strikes me as well. You know, we don’t see many black-run black-owned business in the media world. Well, I don’t maybe you can tell me otherwise. And I think that should be really a focus for the show today. So you know, why did you start? Eagle, one of the agencies?

Well, Justin, thanks. Thanks, again, for having me. And like I said, I’ve been following your podcast, and I was quite excited with the diverse audience that you are a guest that you bring on your podcast. So when you asked me to come on, I thought, hooray, I’m the first black person to come on, on this show. And this is so important for for me, especially with the work in the space that I sort of operate. But the story of Eagle London agency goes back to actually be on 2004. But I think what really kicked us into action was in 2004, when myself my co founder Martin and a few friends of ours, were having a usual good time in an African restaurants in south in South South London. You know, watching a game on this on the on the screen, I can’t remember what game but must have been a popular game because it was a really packed venue that day with so much excitement and you know, bars, you know, obviously, you know, the flavours of African cuisine, you know, the vibrant colours all around us people dress literally like carnival, you know, so you can feel the vibe. And then I wish I was there. You know what, yeah, obviously, you could your closest taste, great drinks and all cocktail. But what really the turning moment was when we had a commercial break. And suddenly, I was looking around while this commercial was running on the screen and saw how this engaged everybody in the room was whatever was on the screen. And initially, I thought it was maybe myself always thinking outside the box and questioning everything around me. But then I kind of looked at the reaction of people who actually this is interesting. They’re not engaging. So then the question I asked myself is why why here? Why why disrupt, you know, a celebration of a community with information that really doesn’t speak to them. And I think that really got me asking questions around the table in my heart and Frankenstein, you know, as to whether everybody was feeling the same way that I was feeling. And I kind of actually then started picking the few that everybody felt the same, but then the thinking around the table was, well, there’s nothing we can do about it. These brands do what they want to do. They want you know, they they speak to us, like we’re all the same and all of us are saying that’s a long time the second I don’t think this is right. We’ve got to take a stand and I think it was around that time. In 2004, where people more and more people from ethnic background were getting into more professional career, like jobs moving into middle income. And so the spending power at the time was picking up in terms of the community, and people will now begin to be more aware as to where they want to spend their money, and things like that. So I think off the back of that, I didn’t ask the question that, you know, what do we do about this? Are we comfortable just sitting back and letting brands speak to us, or we will create our own sort of market and create content and sort of produce products and stuff that really resonate with us and speak to us in an authentic way. And I think that’s what gave birth to ego London agents. Now the time we call the ego Media House. And because it was very much media focused at the time. Now, even though we had such an exciting conversation, and energetic filled with so much power and confidence, and all this sort of drive to make a change. Stepping out into that journey was another story. So it was it was exciting to be out there. So yes, we we need to drive that. But then the next thing is, how do you then fight? All the barriers that raise up achievable? Yes, it’s still brands still felt? Well, we’ve got the majority market who sell to them, anybody else who follow anybody that’s interested is coming by, or there’s no tentative, and all that at the time. So that journey really was a tough one. And then questions are asked when you’re trying to engage with Brittany brands, what’s your expertise in? Have you worked in the agency? Well, before you advertise, and all that obvious, my background is marketing, you know, and I’ve been doing that for a couple of years, a few years before I actually and that’s what probably drove me into always been aware of what was around me how people are marketing to me, and what sort of message now being put out there and all that, but then going out there and trying to really affect change, was the next big step where we’re getting so much resistance, because at that time, there wasn’t enough justification. Or even though there was a lot of noise being made around still, brands didn’t see the reason to really diversify their product to speak specifically to this epic market.

Yeah. Do you? And do you think, though, that that has been changed, because I’ve read different things. I’ve read that there are now brands that have the wake up call, like, we must focus on the minority on SAF markets. And I don’t even really like the word minority. Exactly. Unity is a massive exam. Market, you know, it’s huge. There’s products, especially targeted and more appropriate and more interesting. Like you said, you’re watching a football game, or you’re watching a game, the commercials come on. It’s an African game. And then in the commercials in between they don’t they don’t relate. But what’s changed since then, has social media changed? Are there any big shifts?

Yes, yes, in fact, they’ve been very big shift. And I think everybody around us is aware of how much things have changed. Typical example is, if the sad incident of George Floyd had happened in 2004, nobody would have heard about it, and would have probably hatched. But imagine a young lady picking up a mobile doing something that is very random, post them a story, and then suddenly become a global, Afro. That’s what’s changed this. So that’s really where the transformation is happening. So social media has given us more of a voice, positively or negatively, but at least has given us a voice to be able to push and and gain recognition and for brands to see the seriousness of the conversation. We say now, when I when I’m when I’m positioning myself as a marketer or cultural marketer. I’m mindful the fact that like you did mention that there are different communities. I’m not saying brands should stop whatever they’re doing and just focus on this committee. All I’m just saying is that in your speaking to your market, be mindful that there’s another market that as a huge spending power, that could help you grow to your, you know, attitude to the value of your, your, your business, and as a business owner, if you’re serious about strengthen your brand, or growing your brand, or extending your brand, whatever it is, you would consider new markets. And I keep saying to brand owners that this is the new markets. Yeah, it’s been stretched stretched beyond the United Kingdom. In terms of the lack of results across Europe. We can see that the ethnic markets is growing across the board. Yeah, International.

Growing indeed, yeah. More engaged. Yeah. So let’s talk about then black business ownership. So I tried to do a little bit of research online about that, and I didn’t get very interest Some statistics, I didn’t get something like in the UK, somewhere between 5.6 and 7% of businesses in the UK are minority. You know, what? How’s that been? What what do you feel about that? What needs to change to make that better? What resistance that you face? Especially in media? Right? Yes.

Is is, is interesting. You say resistance did you face is it’s more like, what resistance did you face and how you face it, because it’s an ongoing. It’s an ongoing situation. But I will say that is getting better, there’s, we’ve still got a long way to go. But it’s getting better in the sense that brands begin to take this serious. We can see even from what happened with the pandemic, where now government was seriously trying to now get the message across to our communities and the resistance that we’re having kind of shed the sort of pain and mistrust that this community have had with the mainstream sector, really going way back, which has really formed our mindset and the way we consume content from authorities and all our systems very, look in a very negative or suspicious manner. But yes, you’re right, in terms of, Oh, I lost my drill there.

I want to shoot, yes, that’s the key thing, right? Yes.

Yeah, so so so. So in terms in terms of ownership. Now, because of the we’re in a diverse community, and any business that sets up is setting up to serve a community and that community is both the minority community we do need to be part of the mainstream community, we today may not be part of now. Our community alone in terms of growing as a business owner within our community alone, because of the financial power, and all that that’s happening within our community, does not allow ethnic business owners to have enough resource and funding to keep those businesses growing. So a business that sets up in an ethnic market would also need the mainstream markets are supported to grow. And with that, in play, then the problem becomes access to finance, because to access finance, you need to justify that you’ve got some guaranteed revenues, or you’ve got a market that you’re saving, and all this stuff. So that has been one of the barriers that’s fighting ethnic businesses from extract, thrive in an exploded the frenetic business. Taking myself for example, when when we launched in 2004, it was almost impossible for us to get businesses coming out like big businesses coming away from the UK. And we had to quickly think on our feet and really think of diversifying and we said to ourselves, well, our positioning is helping brands and organisations to speak in an authentic way to the Black ethnic market. If we’re not getting the mainstream businesses here in the UK to take that serious, then we can move into the territories where the ethnic market is strong Africa, in Americans in places like that, and then see what brands are looking to take advantage of the black community in the UK, and rather help them strengthen their positioning here, which is some of the stuff that we did you know, and that was actually, what was keeping us going as an agency, you know, because it was so difficult breaking into the mainstream media circles here. You get also vision, like I said earlier, what’s your expertise? Have you worked with big brands before and all that, but I could easily go into Ghana, for example, where I’m originally from, and we’ll be working with Toyota. We’re working with all the big brands that probably in the UK will be asking all sorts of questions, and I will deliver the same excellent the same quality of service that I will deliver here to them. So that’s one of the barriers or some of the, the biggest barrier, if I can say is access to market access to funding in order to allow the businesses to take off so you find these businesses always doing very much of b2c sort of service provisions. And not much, the b2c and especially when it comes into the, into the media world, like you’re saying, you know, you very rarely find black owned media agencies. Yes, as fully black owned like us, you will either be a partnership or some sort of relationship with other communities, then they probably right on the back of those other communities to then get into business and then they bring on board their expertise to sort of create a full service delivery. So in a nutshell, that’s that’s Well, my take is on in terms of why you’re not seeing a lot of successful black LED businesses thriving in this in this market.

Hey, we hope you are enjoying this podcast. If there is subjects you would like discussed or questions answered, drop us a line at info at sharp harleigh.io.

Do you think there needs to be more? Let’s say? There’s a big discussion, right? Does there need to be more focused coaching and support and encouragement with young black entrepreneurs?

Oh, my God, that is so important.

Because Michael, my other question was going to be or do you think that there shouldn’t be any differentiation? And it should be like, Guys, we should be not talking about this. It should be mainstream. Everyone is welcome. Or do you think more encouragement is needed? The reason I asked is because there’s a really famous Morgan Freeman interview. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, the guy that the interviewer asked Morgan Freeman, about Black History Month, and Morgan Freeman says, I think Black History Month is is rubbish, we shouldn’t be doing it. And he asked why. And he says, It’s not black history month, it’s American History Month is just American history is like, we should we should just stop talking about it. It just is what it is, is a very fine line, isn’t there? Because very important to encourage, without making too big of a deal out of it. You know what I mean? Maybe it’s a bit difficult to explain. But you’re, but you’re saying that there should be coaching and encouragement and support, especially with young entrepreneurs? I mean, I think that’s a good idea. What about you?

No, you know what, I very much agree with that, in the sense that we have to understand and be fair that we’re not starting this race from an equal playing field. And I know sometimes when we talk about less give preferential, maybe treatment when it comes to employment, and all that sort of stuff. People are all in and out. And we got to have equal and fair, which I which I agree, if you have a community that all coming from the same place, then yes, I think fairness across board is justified. But when you have a community that’s come from different levels, then if we want the community to be equal, then we’ve got to create spaces for those from the different levels to be able to upgrade themselves to that same playing field so we can together compete. Yeah. So that’s, I think, for me, that’s where my point comes from? And yes, as you will Black History Month from a different perspective, because you’re right, it’s all about American history. You know, we’re talking about my husband, which is good, because they did great stuff. But we want to zero in and ask ourselves, What does black history man mean to us? Yeah, in the UK, what what examples we have here in the UK, that we can look back, and say these are champions that have really paved the way for us to be who Yeah, in the United Kingdom, who are the leaders in media, who got me as an 18 year old, young man, to stage myself, I can get into media. And I think that’s where Black History Month for us in the UK is. And then the influence of us migrants from Africa from the Caribbean. What was taught what how have we shaped the story here in the United Kingdom, rather than it’d be the focus on American history. I don’t even want to go into slavery, because for me, that is a Black History Month. Black History Month is about black achievement. It’s not about black struggle, if

you like history is like always often about achievement. Suddenly, people will start discussing about black history, then it’s a little bit about pity. And

that’s the thing that happened. Yeah, I agree with you. I always add with that, I want to see a black fist man where conversations have like, where’s our curriculum? Now? That’s the sort of black history I want us to celebrate. Yeah, where were we last year in empowering our community and helping the other that I know from our community to understand where we are coming from and why we do the things we do and why we behave the way we behave, why we speak, why our culture is the way it is. And where are we today? How much understanding that people have in, in that black experience that were shared, the year before, rather than we constantly going back into history, our history seems to have stuck in slavery and American black history, but we’ve got to move on every year, we should be able to say Oh, last year, we plan to incorporate black history in the curriculum. And this these are the champions that led us and today this is where we are at and our plan for next year is to move to the next step. You know, that’s where I see that so yeah, so to come back to your point as to whether there should be mentoring for Like intrapreneurs, in order to live them definitely should mentoring for for the young, black intrapreneurs. Because, yes, they understand what’s happening around the outside the mainstream, but they need to understand how to navigate their way into mainstream business, how to win contracts, things like that how to get into networks that will allow them to grow within this market. And also, I think that mentoring will also depend on where it’s coming from, it’s coming from mainstream will allow mainstream to understand better,

I think you’ve made a point a very, very, very valid point before is it not really citing from a level playing field, and that just really sums it up. So there does need to be special care, especially investment, a lot of time and thought and when I think about it, as well, from personal experience, if I would say like 7% of businesses, or let’s say black owned, just figure that I read on a report, we need to verify that Yeah. Then when I go and talk to investors, and let’s say, venture capitalist organisations, or investors in general, none of them up from an ethnic minority, why can have a list of 100. And I will pretty much guarantee that in those positions, there’s no one. And I think when I think about marketing, as well, unlike Hang on a second, when I’ve worked in marketing, and digital marketing, and social media, I’m starting to get a lot better. But then I just had a realisation of Wow, it’s really behind. It doesn’t represent it. So. And I think that’s really, really important. And I think it’s a good idea to have a focus on that. To incorporate things like history, etc, but also to give people the tools and the, the confidence, you know, to start up a new business. I mean, you you you had the confidence to do that, instead of forcing, it’s not easy. Most businesses fail, don’t they? But you have the confidence to do that. Yes, the question is, you know, also, where does that come from? Cool. Let’s, let’s talk about trends. So, you know, this, you got years of experience in marketing, and this podcast is also about the essay, digital digital marketing. What What exciting trends to use in particular to go after this very lucrative growing market.

Up, I think, I think content, content creation has evolved because of social media. And easy access to social media now means that creative content producing easily get content online, to get people to see their work and just see what they’re doing. I mean, I really thrilled it when the trend is what’s happening on the tick tock space, seeing the sort of creative content that people from the ethnic background, producing on the you know, and how much impact the making are there as well. I mean, if you’re looking on Instagram, social media, even when we look at the podcast space, you know, we’re having a lot of good conversations being had on podcasts, from people from from from my community, and I think that is something that is going to grow because more and more people are getting the confidence and like I said, technology is becoming more and more accessible. So that is breaking down the barriers, once upon a time a podcast would have been with some one big star somewhere that you really needed to lobby, almost impossible to get on the platform and just only just be sitting back and listening to the content that’s being pushed at you. But now we all can partake in this and, and be part of the conversation by creating our own little spaces and pushing across. So yes, I will say that social media trend has really grown at a very fast pace over the over the past few years and made it accessible for all to get involved. Yeah.

111 way massive name that just really I feel must have inspired a whole generation, especially on social media is Beyonce, right? As Beyonce she nailed it and she did a whole music video on social she just filled it with cat like mobile phones. And that just really stands out to me. Am I okay, you know, you could say it’s a bit cheesy a bit mainstream, but she definitely is inspired those. I think podcast is an interesting one as well. Right? So it gives everybody a voice. I think clubhouse, you know, like clubhouse was majorly popular. And then you know, it just became less popular right. It was a bit of a fad. I think colour palettes has really it’s still really big in the States right? I think concern Yeah,

yeah. Even just to add them in that simple thing like WhatsApp WhatsApp has become a real saviour for the people from the communities especially even outside the United Kingdom, in places where making calls international calls in order, so they’re so expensive, WhatsApp has become something that’s really brought the community together. And that’s another space where content is really going viral. You know what content just hits on there, and it just sort of moves on across. So that’s also open the communities for people to share what they’re doing, I would say in a more intimate way, because it’s on your handset, it’s coming from somebody that you know, personally, as compared to it being on social media, where anybody stumbling on is knows this person. And that’s nice. But how do I relate to that facebook, whatsapp message are very personal, you know, and people pay attention to those sort of content because of how it’s reaching them stuff. So yeah, that’s another interesting one. Yeah. I love I love what Beyonce is doing. And all people have their own views on it. But for me, anybody that really goes out all out to celebrate that diverse black culture idea, it’s

an amazing entrepreneur as well exact got some amazing, amazing entrepreneurs. Yes. I love the fact you mentioned WhatsApp. No one ever talks about WhatsApp, it’s a good point. And it’s because it’s so hard to crack it and get in your if you get in with those nano influencers, run WhatsApp groups and telegram groups is incredibly powerful isn’t it

is it is it is that you’d be surprised, for example, like a project we working on with King’s College London, on kidney kidney research. And the research team at kingscote found that there’s a gene that is predominant in people of African Caribbean background that triggers kidney disease. So they then approached us to want to be able to reach the African community of black African Caribbean community in order to help them to understand the condition, get them to do tests, and all that sort of stuff. But it’s interesting that the strategy that they had, was very insular of Islam, mainstream point of view, and we had to sit down and have consultation with them, and literally themselves, actually, what your, your idea is good. But the the community you’re trying to reach, especially if you’re talking about the older generation, are very much on WhatsApp. So it’s about like you just mentioned, it’s about getting into those community groups, and getting that message on those platforms that will really get the older generation, you know, so it’s like, even within the black community, we have layers. So the way I’ll communicate to the older generation will be different from the way you can we get to Gen Z, you know, and all that sort of stuff. And you’ve got to understand these nuances in order to be pretty effective at communicating to them. So just to prove a point, WhatsApp is one of the things that nobody really pays attention to. But for some communities, this is your lifeline to information, you know, yeah.

I think that’s a really interesting point. I feel like I need to do some more research into WhatsApp and maybe write right up on it, because it’s so incredibly powerful. And I mean, these groups can get really big, right? I mean, these WhatsApp groups can, I don’t know how, I don’t know what the cap is on a WhatsApp group. But they must be really big. And the viral potential was massive. Yeah. Brilliant. Just to wrap up, Phil, I love to ask entrepreneurs and marketing leaders and whoever I love to ask this question, if you could meet yourself when you were a little boy, what one piece of advice would you give yourself as little Phil is like growing up?

You know, what, I think the advice I would give myself is to be bolder at celebrating myself, my identity, because I think growing up in Ghana, moving into the UK, at a younger age 18 And then living in the UK than for the many years or following on from that. I think I had tried to conform into a society, you know, until when I launched out and I realised that the second is my uniqueness that gives me my stories that are unique is that gives me that edge to be able to deliver the sort of content that they deliver. And I think if I had been able to identify that at an earlier age, I think I would have worked on myself and be much better than I am today.

Not too late. Yeah, great advice to anyone who’s listening. Be yourself be unique. Yeah. Amazing. On that note, Phil, thank you so much for being on the podcast. Apologies for the technical problems when we started,

though worries Justin, thank you very much for having me on. Your Podcast really grateful that again, I celebrate being the black first black person on this podcast. That’s a great year.