The theme of building continues in our Creative Excellence Series for Black History Month. This week's guest editor, Sophie Gold, yesterday shared the story of launching her production company Eleanor, while our next contributor, Doordash Chief Marketing Officer Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, recounts the most taxing, yet most fulfilling accomplishment of his career, opening the doors of a new Publicis agency in his native Ghana.
It's just one of the many successes of his advertising and marketing journey, which began agency-side in strategy at Leo Burnett, followed by roles as senior strategic planner on Nike at Wieden+Kennedy and key leadership posts at Bacardi, FCB New York and Facebook. Along the way, he's amassed numerous accolades including a spot on Ad Age's 40 Under 40, AdColor's Rockstar award and more. Outside of his day job, Amoo-Gottfried also serves on the board of Population Services International, the global health and human services NGO dedicated to improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable populations, as well as on the board of Vital Farms, a Certified B Corporation centered on ethical food.
"Kofi brings excellence to everything he does, including his current job as CMO at Doordash," said Gold. "I can recall a conversation I had with him at Cannes years ago. We were talking about the Nike campaign he was involved in that had the tag line, 'You don’t win silver, you lose gold.' Those words really stuck with me. The conversation made me think about what it means to be great and to strive for what I want. He inspired me to not just settle with being part of the industry, but to make a difference."
In 2009, I left my "dream job" leading strategy for Nike at Wieden+Kennedy and moved back to Ghana (where I was born and lived till I was 17) to build the first majority-owned network agency in sub-Saharan Africa from the ground up for Publicis.
It was an extraordinary adventure—by far the hardest thing I've ever done, and unquestionably the most fulfilling, as we set out to create a world-class agency, built around the vision of "reclaiming Africa's birthright as a creative force."
We opened on April 1 with Nestle as our sole client and started with the Maggi brand, with the promise of winning more of the portfolio if we were able to prove ourselves. By year's end, we were working across all nine Nestle brands for all of Central & West Africa (covering 22 countries), we'd won a piece of Vodafone Ghana's business and we'd won Proctor & Gamble's Vicks & Oral B business in Nigeria.
And in the second year, we picked up Western Union for all of Africa and won a global Nestle pitch against network agencies in London and New York. It was a charmed run, fueled by an incredible team, which was a mix of a handful of industry vets and brilliant young talents who were completely new to the industry. It eventually earned us coverage in the Wall Street Journal, which was unprecedented for an agency from that part of the world.
For me, this adventure was transformational—it would have taken me 15 in a "regular" job to learn everything I did in those three years. I learned how to build, how to manage a P&L, how to lead through adversity, how to set and maintain high standards, how to carry the weight of being responsible for people's livelihoods and how to build a distinct creative culture that attracted the best and kept them engaged.
And I got to do this all at home, while contributing in a small way to Ghana's development story.
Read: Doordash promotes Kofi Amoo-Gottfried to its first CMO