Following an announcement that one of the creative works of DDB Lagos won ‘Luerzer’s Archive Print Ad of the Week,’ Raheem Akingbolu writes on the rising profile of the agency and the contributory factors
Management and staff of DDB Lagos, one of the leading advertising agencies in Nigeria, took some time off the normal creative business recently to celebrate a new achievement.
The agency, which is among the few that have since crossed the billions billings’ mark, had one of its creative works named ‘Luerzer’s Archive Print Ad of the Week.’
Luerzer’s Archive is one of the foremost advertising magazines in the world. The magazine had stated that it selected DDB’s work after a painstaking process over hundreds of other print advert materials collated from around the globe.
The ‘Speechless’ ad, which made the history, was said to have been done for one of DDB’s numerous clients, Girl Hub, a non-governmental organisation, which strongly believes that the typical girl-child in Northern Nigeria faces series of social vices namely: poverty, disrespect and abuse. As such, the key purpose for their campaign was to create a clear advocacy that seeks to give a voice to the impoverished female child.
The management of the agency has however reacted that although they were excited, they expected nothing less.
Its Managing Director, Ikechi Odigbo, noted that apart from leveraging on the rich creative heritage of DDB worldwide as the second most-awarded global network, the Lagos Agency has continued to make significant investments in human capacity development.
He noted that for the past four years, the agency had made it a tradition to sponsor a minimum of two of its young promising creatives to what he referred to as ‘advertising’s Mecca’; the Cannes Lions Festival in Paris.
In a related development, creative talents from the agency have recently benefitted from a meeting of minds with tutors from Miami Ad School (Germany). They were said to have engaged in three areas, offering six courses in Concepting/Advanced Concepting, Copywriting/Advanced Story Telling and Integrated Concepting.
Established about 25 years ago by Mr. Enyi Odigbo, current chairman of Caesars Group in Nigeria, DDB was among the second set of agencies that demonstrated in practical terms that Nigerians were prepared to change the fortune of the ad industry.
After overcoming its teething stages, the agency became one of the most sought-after, especially as a result of the influence of its global network. The defining moment came when it won the MTN accounts in 2006.
This is so because the deregulation of the telecommunications sector in August 2001, which led to the introduction of major Global System of Mobile (GSM) Communications, changed the fortune of the Ad industry.
Two things are responsible for the success story of MTN in particular; the vision and commitment of its operators in establishing a market leadership position for the brand and the impactful creative works developed by its agencies
When MTN launched into the market, it was handled by TBWA/Concept Unit, a leading advertising agency in Nigeria. The agency launched the brand aggressively into the market with the pay-off line ‘Best Connection’.
In April 2005, it launched ‘Everywhere you go’ to harmonise and create a universal brand promise in all MTN operations across the continent.
Still yearning for top of the mind presence, the brand went into its creative kitty to launch the ‘Go’ campaign with a view to positioning the telco as a company that encourages men and women to go and conquer the world, knowing that man desires to live a better life, desire a secured future, progress and change.
‘Everywhere you Go’ was said to have been anchored on MTN’s core values of leadership, integrity and can do spirit. However, due to the company’s leadership on coverage and market share, in the Nigerian market, consumers’ interpretation of the pay-off was seen to have emanated more from a geographical rather than a brand philosophy perspective.
In order to change ‘Everywhere you Go’ being geographic, to seeing it as a philosophy of the brand, the company re-strategised and launched another value proposition tagged ‘Moving you ahead’.
The brand has equally launched a highly creative advertising campaign with the theme ‘Mama Na Boy!’ This was a highly unique campaign created by SO & U Saatchi & Saatchi which then co-handled the creative advertising of the telecom brand.
The interest and excitement this campaign generated among the populace was unprecedented in the annals of creative advertising in Nigeria. The recall level was almost one hundred per cent.
Human rights activities and gender campaigners made positive issues out of the campaign such that SO & U Saatchi & Saatchi had to take the campaign a step forward with ‘Mama Na Girl!’, if only to pacify the gender agitators.
No sooner had the issue come to a head than MTN harmonised the brief by consolidating it in one agency with the appointment of DDB, Lagos. The appointment of DDB, in 2006 is a landmark creative renewal of sorts for the brand that has been known for cutting-edge creative themes.
The agency, which prides itself as ‘enemy of the ordinary’ has in the last six years created innovative selling ideas in pushing the brand equity of MTN in the market place.
Contribution of Affiliation, Human Resources
Over the years, advertising story on the global stage has been following the same trend as a result of two factors. One, the world is now seeing as a global village because of the interconnectivity made possible by the online revolution, which creates working relationship among local and international market operators.
Two; for some local agencies that are part of various international networks, business decisions now percolate from the centre and flow to other networks.
Aside the fact that it has become a norm among leading agencies in different countries of the world to pitch tent with these global networks, the development has also helped in the area of knowledge transfer and business collaboration. As a result of this mutual relationship, some clients now demand for global campaigns in today’s market.
However, one strange observation is that while agencies from different continents are scampering to be part of a few international networks, a lot of global advertising brands are left in the cold. As at the last count, not less than nine advertising agencies in Nigeria are affiliated with world known networks.
Also, 10 networks seem to be in the forefront on the global stage, dictating the pace at both local and international markets. According to The First Group report on the Top 10 List, United States-based BBDO Worldwide, McCann Erickson, DDB Worldwide and TBWA Worldwide are among the first 10 leading agencies in the world as at June 2009.
Other US based networks that are rated among first the first 10 are JWT Worldwide, Y & R Advertising, Publicis Worldwide and DraftFCB. Two remaining agencies; Euro RSCG Worldwide and Wisdek are based in France and Canada respectively.
In the last 10 years, DDB has maintained a consistent growth in the Nigerian advertising market with high profile accounts in its kitty. The network’s President in Middle East and Africa, Patrick Ehringer and its Chief Executive Officer in Nigeria, Ikechi Odigbo, two years ago told THISDAY that having the right people working on various cutting-edge ideas remain the main reason the agency remains relevant.
Creativity and Humanity
DDB is one of the triumvirate networks under the portfolio of Omnicom. It maintains a lower profile compared to the other two networks that form the triumvirate network of Omnicom. But its strategies for growth, according to Odigbo, has little to do with whether it is constantly in the news or not but rather in its crave for creativity and humanity.
“In our business, the only asset is actually the people we have, which are an important factor of the network’s expansion. We are keen about the quality of people working in DDB and the value they create. Our approach revolves round humanity. Within the organisation are human beings, who are keen at giving out the best to consumers, who are also dynamic human beings.
“You need to look at the consumer and decides what he needs and how to connect. You need to have the proper insight in order to approach him. We consider humanity because we consider ourselves a human net work. We have people, products, performance and ownership.
“In the recent time, we have also focused on the area of technology; with special attention to creativity because we are aware of the fact that advertising will move fast in Nigeria very soon because of the changes in technology.
“I also believe that the development of the mobile market will be a huge vehicle for growth in the Nigerian Ad industry. This will also enable quick catch up with some of the delays encountered in the developing world in the years past,” he added.
Speaking further, he pointed out that recent development has shown that the mobile medium will be a factor of change, just like technology, maintaining that it is already a huge factor of change because of its impact on economy in all markets. To this end, he stated that DDB has to be ahead of the rest of the business.