By Eric Eghaghe
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Orange academy, Nigeria's 1st Brand school, has challenged its graduating students to use their brand management and storytelling skills to solve complex social problems in their own world. In this regard, a yearly exhibition project tagged 'THE ART OF POSITIVE THINKING,' was launched alongside the school's graduation-immersion ceremony at Sheraton Hotel on Sunday the 29th of June. The focus of this year's edition was on the need for sexually active youth to know their HIV status. It was well attended by major industry stakeholders, from Marketing, Advocacy and Public Sector to Advertising.

Compelling storytelling at Orange Academy is called THIS ONE THING and it is what separates their students from other students of Marketing Communications as well as other training institutions in the country.

This yearly event will now become an annual showcase of how arts can solve complex social problems. Students will be required to research, reframe and create solutions to intervene in human issues, using compelling storytelling. This will be prejudged and preselected by a group of international panelists.

Mr. Femi Odugbemi, the school's Provost and a veteran African filmmaker alluded to a recent statistics by Forrester Researchers in the US that Social Media spending will increase to $3,113 (in millions) in 2014 from $716 in 2009 representing a compound annual growth rate of 34% - the highest percentage gain in the marketing mix. Thus shifting major marketing budgets to 'un-marketing' activities.

Mr. Lampe Omoyele, African Marketing Director - Family Nutrition, GlaxoSmithKline who is also a member of the school management board, described Orange Academy as the 1st un-marketing brand school in Africa where emphasis is put on compelling storytelling: the ability to tell media neutral stories. Above the line. Below the line. Inside the line. Across the line. With no lines.

In his own view, the new CEO of the academy, Mr. Chisom Ohuaka, sums it up as follows: Because stories are the most memorable vehicles through which we know our world, Orange Academy teaches and practices the art of compelling storytelling so our students can create memorable brand experiences.

The mission is very simple: to train and mentor local hands that will solve complex human problems through the arts of storytelling. Be it Marketing or Social.

According to Kenny Brandmuse, the Founder and the Chief Imagination Officer of the Academy, the skill sets taught by the academy's multidisciplinary faculty pool have been employed in core Marketing, Entertainment, Non-profit, Governance, Education and Public Advocacies. He added that the school has grown from a 12-student school to a 150-student school in just 6 years.

The Dean of Studies, Franklin Ozhekome, formerly the CMO of Insights Communications, went on to say that the academy now has an alumni base of over 600 professionals, working in major industries where compelling storytelling is needed.