…Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo, The CIMG Marketing Practitioner of the Year
The insurance industry is competitive. One’s cursory check will reveal at least three insurance adverts on any major prime-time radio show while their billboards dot every major route. However, the industry has awoken recently – as evidenced by the popularity of chatbots such as the pioneer Araba Hollard – to innovative microinsurance products such as MeBanbo by Hollard Life which offers bite-sized insurance via USSD.
This resurgence is attributable to the flurry of marketing efforts begun in 2019 by Hollard Ghana, the colourful insurance group formerly Metropolitan Insurance, and now part of an 18-country multinational business.
At the helm of the group’s distinct brand-building growth, as visualised through its vibrant personality, is its Group Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs, Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo. Cynthia is a creative marketing and communications maven with a 14-year wealth of industry and international experience, creating impact for organisations such as Hollard.
Consequently, the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG) has recognised Cynthia as the Marketing Practitioner of the Year 2021, for leading Hollard Ghana’s groundbreaking brand-building efforts at the just-ended 33rd Annual National Marketing Performance Awards ceremony held at the Labadi Beach Hotel.
This year’s event was under the theme: ‘Creative Marketing and Innovation in a Volatile Global Economy’. CIMG cited her for excellence in marketing insights, people, corporate and reputation management, CSR, and sound marketing strategies. According to the institute, this set Cynthia and Hollard apart as corporate achievers for 2021.
Speaking on the impact of Cynthia’s work, Hollard Ghana’s Group CEO, Patience Akyianu, remarked: “Marketing insurance is no small feat, especially in this volatile global economy. It requires the right expert to drive strategic brand and customer initiatives that are attractive to target audiences.
“Hollardite Cynthia has been remarkable at promoting our vibrancy and business purpose. Her impactful work with her team has resulted in our group’s exceptional brand expansion. Also, her collaborative work with our People Team has seen increased staff engagement and company pride.”
“Furthermore, through our unconventional brand engagements, she has undoubtedly spurred competitive activity in our previously quiet insurance industry. As a result, she has contributed to increasing insurance penetration in Ghana while making us a favourite.
“We are proud of her CIMG achievement, and dedicate the win to our customers, partners, and stakeholders for being receptive audiences. As a marketing-oriented company, we will continue to serve them better through our original products, distinctive distribution channels, and customised policies curated for every need,” Patience added.
Speaking to the writer, Cynthia said she finds the prestigious CIMG recognition fulfilling since it validates Hollard’s quest to create and secure a better future through inventive marketing. She believes impactful marketing happens at the confluence of visionary leadership, an enabling environment, purpose, hard work, a fantastic team, and a great brand style.
Driving innovative marketing at Hollard for social good
As the marketing head, Cynthia uses insights to fulfil the company’s promise to customise its marketing strategies, products, and services to suit Ghanaian needs. Her job straddles the grey line between marketing and reputation management. She shares that the brand’s success is partly due to the marriage of messaging and visual storytelling.
As a social enterprise driven by a strong purpose, Hollard’s business dealings and subsequent marketing focus on engaging stakeholders in a manner that resonates with them. Her work also fosters a happy Team Hollard while garnering employees as active brand advocates. With an ‘all-in’ approach, Hollardites are a media channel, evidenced each time the company trends on social media when they blast content.
Cynthia positions Hollard’s passion for increasing insurance awareness through unusual partnerships and innovations via a business ‘un’ usual approach. Moreover, she uses its quirkiness as an authentic canvas for Ghanaian-inspired illustrations, photography and iconography.
The company’s advertising gives people a reason to smile. All their outdoor branding, signages and offices feature beautiful designs and murals, notably Hollard’s cool emoji bus shelters spread across Accra. In a world of worry and concern, Cynthia shared that Hollard makes people happy because the company insures people, everyone, and everything they love so they can go about their lives stress-free. However, they are serious when it matters most.
With numerous awards under its belt, Cynthia ensures Hollard makes accessibility a standard of customer experience with its products, alternative distribution methods, multichannel visibility, and relatable financial communications.
They enable financial inclusion through e-commerce channels such as Jumia.com and Melcom.com, and are available via Hollard-on-the-go booths ‘Where Ghana Shops’ at Melcom stores and Shell Fuel Stations. In addition, Cynthia often organises on-ground activations to engage customers at a grassroots level from Insurance Week at Melcom stores to rural MeBanbo roadshows, Hollard is always present.
Cynthia balances Hollard brand activities with social impact. For instance, their H. Insured: All About Insurance thought-leadership platform features newspaper and online columns, webinars, and events. Further, Hollard runs community-focused public engagements such as market storms, observance of World Insurance Awareness Day, etc. to foster insurance as a Ghanaian lifestyle.
The company’s flagship corporate social investment initiative, Hollard x Academia, is a Triple-win partnership between the insurance group in Ghana and four public universities to enable better futures through Hollard’s Streetwise Finance programme, mentoring, engagement, resource-sharing and more.
In three years, Hollard’s general and life insurance businesses have grown profitably, achieving double-digit revenue increases in Gross Written Premiums while becoming a favourite. The achievement has been attributed partly to their aggressive marketing, led by Cynthia. Yet, who is Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo?
Cynthia is an Accredited Public Relations Professional (APR) with an M.A. in Professional Communication from Clemson University, USA (2012) and a B.A. in Economics from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (2007).
Cynthia is the Board Chair for the Springboard Roadshow Foundation, and serves on several boards, including the executive council of the Institute of Public Relations Ghana.
Before Hollard, Cynthia led top advertising and communications agencies, including Ogilvy – Now Available Africa – and Global Media Alliance, managing projects for multinational and local clients across West and Central Africa. She also worked in the USA, notably for Vox Global, a public affairs company and in the UK. Early in her career, she honed her skills in strategy at the reputable Ghanaian management consulting firm Shawbell Consulting.
Consulting, Cynthia coordinated local and international non-profit projects, some funded by Rockefeller Foundation, CGAP/World Bank financial inclusion projects in Ghana, and marketing communications for Fintech, IT and FMCG companies like SupaCem Cement, expressPay, Dominion TV, and Enterprise Computing Ltd.
Academia & publications
Cynthia once taught first-year university students and athletes in the USA; is a published author in the Journal of College University Student Housing (USA); has given a USA TEDx Talk on challenging stereotypes about Africa; been a Guest Speaker at the prestigious PR Holmes and African Public Relations Association (APRA) 2019 Rwanda Conference; moderated and presented at other conferences in the USA and Ghana. She currently teaches the IPR’s Digital PR accreditation course and conducts training in marketing & communications and agency operations, including sessions in Sierra Leone.
Among other periodic think pieces, The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) UK published Cynthia’s ‘No More Suits’ feature in their Catalyst Magazine this year.
Awards & recognition
In 2021, Cynthia was named a top 25 innovator in Europe, the Middle East & Africa in the prestigious SABRE (Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation, and Engagement) Innovator 25 list by globally respected PRovoke Media. Moreso, she is named a Top-10 Woman in PR by Women in PR Ghana, and listed by Avance Media among the 50 Most Influential Young Ghanaians in Leadership and Civil Society.
In 2018, working at Ogilvy, she announced Rising Star by Ogilvy Europe, Middle East & Africa. In addition, she has been directly responsible for award-winning corporate work, including the prestigious SABRES, Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana’s National Marketing Awards, Advertising Association’s Gong Gong Awards, Institute of Public Relations Ghana PR Excellence Awards, Ghana Insurance Awards, Chartered Insurers Institute Ghana, etc.
Foray in broadcasting
Once a student journalist at Focus 94.3 FM (KNUST Radio), Cynthia anchored a popular current affairs radio show called ‘Matters Arising’. Though she took a different communications career path, she has had stints in media. In 2012/3, she was the news editor of Ghananewsmedia.com (defunct) and a reporting fellow at WAMU 88.5 (National Public Radio [NPR]), both based in Washington, DC.
As a strategist at Ultimate FM in Kumasi in 2014, she helped to revamp their business news while producing the morning show. Recently, Cynthia has appeared as a panellist on the TV3 New Day morning show and has an upcoming exciting podcast project.
Away from work
Cynthia loves time with her family and friends. She is active, travels often and takes adventure trips. The marketer remarkably summited Cape Town’s 2,195 ft Lion’s Head Mountain in May. She is sociable, having co-founded Ghana’s first private basketball league, Rush Community Basketball Tournament, and led communications for TEDxAccra, past organisers of thought-leadership events, TEDxAccra, TEDxAccraWomen and Africa Dialogues.
She recently dabbled in modelling, fronting a Printex campaign last year. The corporate lady was on the fabric company’s billboards, trucks, and social media. She is a voracious podcast listener whose favourite podcasts, like Death Sex and Money, Sincerely Accra, and Freakonomics Radio, span a kaleidoscope of perspectives. Cynthia’s colourful background is unsurprising, given the nature of marketers’ creative pursuits.
What next after this significant recognition?
Although the insurance industry is mature, its customer-focused marketing journey is nascent. Companies like Hollard, through their brand leaders such as Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo, are aggressively driving innovative marketing endeavours through alternative distribution and creative advertising channels.
However, these marketing practitioners have a tall order to accomplish. They must ramp up their inventiveness to maintain market visibility in a cluttered space, all in a bid to expand insurance penetration for the benefit of all. Nevertheless, the lessons are there for peer practitioners to emulate in this volatile global economy. Well done to the CIMG Marketing Practitioner of the Year, Cynthia Ofori-Dwumfuo, for being recognised as a step ahead!