How we came up with the ‘Change Begins with Me’ idea – Consultant opens up

Brian e Ebden, a creative consultant based in Lagos has given an insight into how the ‘Change Begins with Me’ campaign, launched on Thursday, September 8, 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, was birthed.

Ebden who boasts of 16-years advertising experience in South Africa and Nigeria released a statement refuting claims by some individuals that the concept was plagiarized by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.

According to Ebden, who has worked with South African retail chain, Shoprite, said he was briefed about the idea one week after Mr. Mohammed was nominated as Information Minister and he has worked in concert with other media professionals in developing the communication plan for the particular campaign.

However, Emeka Oparah, the Director, Corporate Communications & CSR, Airtel Nigeria, has claimed on social media that the national re-orientation campaign is a replica of a scheme conceived by CEO of Bufferzone Limited, Akin Fadeyi.

According to Oparah, he has been aware of the said project, under the name, ‘Not in My Country’ over two years ago.

“The campaign resonated with me instantly, and I believe it was the same with several of those to whom he gave a privileged preview before he then went to town with it. I recall asking him (Fadeyi) whether the Minister of Information and Culture and his National Orientations Agency have seen the campaign to which he answered in the affirmative.

“I cannot for the life of me understand why the FG would launch what, to me, is a Xerox copy of Mr. Fadeyi’s Not in My Country,” Oparah wrote.

In his statement, Ebden said “nothing was plagiarised because none of those making the ridiculous claim admitted meeting Alhaji Lai Mohammed on any proposal before he was nominated and sworn into office. Yet, it is on record, as I stated in the statement, that the whole ‘Change begins with me’ concept was formulated and concluded long before the minister was sworn into office in November 2015.”

Read the full statement below:

I read with utter shock and disbelief the reported claim by some people that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stole their concept of ‘CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME’, which was launched by the President on Thursday, 8th Sept. 2016. This is nothing but sheer lies and blackmail.

The facts are that as a marketing communications consultant, I, together with the advertising agency Centerspread, were contacted a week after Alhaji Lai Mohammed was nominated as Minister by the President to attend a brainstorming workshop on Thursday 8th October 2015 at the White House Hotel in Ikeja.

At this briefing, Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s first statement was that once he has taken office, he wishes to launch a change campaign entitled, “Change begins with me.” It was Centerspread and my task to develop the communications campaign and strategy, following an in-depth briefing which we received at this session. I have irrefutable evidence in the form of emails that two days later (10th October 2015), I sent the entire strategy document to Alhaji Lai Mohammed detailing the first stage of the communications plan. In this email (and I am more than happy to send it to anyone who so wishes), it is entitled (in capital letters, CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME).

By 30th October of 2015, the entire 1st generation creative work was sent to Alhaji Lai Mohammed which included the first created logo, artwork, jingles and TVC concepts. A month later, both agencies attended a presentation session at Radio House in Abuja where two campaigns were presented to a contingent of more than 100 people of the Ministry of Information and Culture which included NTA, FRCN and NOA and again it was clearly and unambiguously stated that the campaign was “Change begins with me.” Over the ensuing weeks following this initial presentation, the Honourable Minister repeatedly mentioned the impending campaign by its name and it was duly reported in the media.

Further still, on Sunday 24th January 2016 at the Southern Sun Hotel in Ikoyi, the Honourable Minister presented the campaign to all major artists and personalities who included King Sunny Ade, Pasuma, MI, Don Jazzy, P Square, Mo Abudu and many others. This again was public knowledge and can be verified here.

Having said this, what is conspicuous by its absence is any form of complaint or utterance by anyone whatsoever to the plethora of public information espoused directly by the Honourable Minister to argue that the concept of ‘Change begins with me’ belongs to him or her. However, they waited for the campaign to be launched officially by the President before making spurious claims that the Honourable Minister plagiarised their so-called concept and appropriated their supposed intellectual property.

Nothing was plagiarised because none of those making the ridiculous claim admitted meeting Alhaji Lai Mohammed on any proposal before he was nominated and sworn into office. Yet, it is on record, as I stated in the statement, that the whole ‘Change begins with me’ concept was formulated and concluded long before the minister was sworn into office in November 2015.

The irrefutable evidence to attest to all these facts are available and only confirms this position. The facts speak for themselves and, in my opinion, all those who are making these specious claim need to urgently apologise to the Minister.

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