Never in all of it’s near 100 years has the Nigerian Advertising industry experienced a night like the 10th of October 2014. Of course since its inception, there have been several award nights, jubilee celebrations of different anniversaries and prestigious galas in honour of esteemed captains of industry. Yet, none evoked as much reverence as experienced on the 10th of October 2014, the night the Nigerian Advertising industry paid tribute to Adebola Ridwan Babatunde a.k.a Underscore.
The Planet 1, Mobolaji Bank Anthony held event in Lagos was the first of it’s kind. It’s hard to imagine an agency of repute that didn’t have a representation in attendance. For an industry that thrives on competition, Underscore’s tribute night was perhaps the first time ever that the industry’s brightest minds congregated not as rivals, but members of a united family. And such indeed was the character of Underscore as anecdotes of his enduring and prodigious personality and achievements were praised by colleagues, friends and loved ones who knew him best. One couldn’t help but listen in awe as the life of Nigeria’s most celebrated creative and advertising talent attained immortal status. The atmosphere, though staid at the beginning, gave way to cheer and applause as Underscore’s league of intimate friends and colleagues came on stage to recount hilarious adventures of the maverick creative. Amongst colleagues who spoke in loving memory of Underscore are Abolaji Alausa of Noah’s Ark, Tunde Dosekun of DDB Lagos, Kunle Shittu of STB MCCANN, Nnamdi Ndu of Chini Productions Lagos, Lanre Okunola of DDB Lagos, Chris Ogunlowo of Kwirkly, Tunde Makinwa of BBDO Lagos, Barbara Onianwah of DDB Lagos, Lanre Adisa of Noah’s Ark, Chuma Obumselu of BBDO Lagos, Babatunde Sule of DDB Lagos and many more notable speakers.
Even though, Underscore always regarded himself as ordinary as the next guy, his modesty was always betrayed by his copious list of achievements. Some of which are...
2009 - Nigeria's Young Lions Film winner
2009 - Cannes Young Lions Film Finalist
2011 - First Nigerian published in Lürzer’s Archive (Vol. 6/2011)
2012 - Lürzer's Archive Student of the Year Nominee
2012 - Silver at the YoungGlory Award (Round 3) Miami Ad School
2012 - Silver Star
2012 - Best Online Advert, Chip Shop Awards
2013 – Shortlist, Golden Award of Montreux
2014 - Lürzer's Archive Student of the Year Nominee
While his breakthrough into advertising began in the early 2000s at LTC/JWT, Underscore soon climbed to the top, rocketing through Bates Cosse as an intern during his National Youth Service assignment. Then he ascended to become a Senior Manager at DDB Lagos where he worked largely on MTN before seeking foreign lands and trophies to conquer. Underscore won the Lürzer’s Archive scholarship at Miami Ad School Europe and left the country for Hamburg.
Years later, Underscore returned to Nigeria with such deep impacting resume that the only agency down to earth enough to house his roaring creativity was Noah’s Ark, where he assumed the role of Associate Creative Director until his untimely passing at the young age of 30 years.
In closing, the gathering made a number of noteworthy proclamations towards immortalizing Adebola Ridwan Babatunde. However, in spite of this laudable gesture, everyone in attendance knew in their heart of hearts, that the greatest monument they can ever erect in Underscore’s memory was to keep the fire of his creativity burning in their hearts.
Rest in Peace Underscore…may you live forever.