We Have The Wherewithal To Compete Globally, Says Oke

26 Jan 2013

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Advertising industry in 2012

2012 was very challenging business year for our industry as the global economic meltdown put a lot of pressure on job in “emerging markets” like Nigeria.   The Pareto Principle is working here, about 20 percent of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) members had the opportunity to work on 80 percent of the clients’ business/advertising spend.  The remaining 80 percent of our AAAN members, I would say got 20 percent.

However, there is a significant advertising spend outside of the organised AAAN body, which we cannot put figures on (due to no formal data base, on this specific information) coming from government; NGO’s and spent directly by clients through some hot shops “brand development companies” and other non-organised marketing communications sectors. So in a nutshell for AAAN agencies about 20 percent of our members had a fairly good year whilst 80 percent could do much better. We hope that with more compliance to the ethics of our profession and the government intervention (from bodies like APCON) streamlining professional conduct in our industry; the story should start to reverse very quickly in 2013 and beyond.
Improving overall performance in 2013

From an AAAN stand point; the industry can do much better with professionals, as we will ultimately impact our economy positively. Our members for almost 40 years have done a fantastic job of building global/regional brands for multinationals, and all sections of the organised economy. A few of our members are now providing professional services for government agencies and parastatals. The more this happens the better.
When we have up to 80 per cent of our members providing the much needed professional marketing communications services to all sectors of the economy and governance, I am sure we will start to witness a much greater economic boom, as consumers are at the heart of our business in either the product or service business.

Creativity and dearth of gold at LAIF Awards

The dearth of gold is a reflection of the stagnation of the economy globally. Most of the agencies that participated in the 2012 LAIF Awards work for multinational clients or world-class, regional or national companies as well as their brands. Where clients cannot afford to be as dynamic and vibrant in spending on marketing communications due to reduced budgets globally also affected regional and national spend. It will simply mean cut backs in Nigeria. Although ‘challenges breed champions’ even in creativity, clients must have potentially thriving businesses that throw up the challenge in the first instance for agencies to work on via a brief.

The marketing communications industry works in symbiotic relations with the marketing departments of most products/services companies listed. Where campaigns are being produced on “regional or global levels” such work are mainly considered as “regional work”. But you find out that a lot of multinationals/global businesses with thriving businesses in Nigeria have separate regional/local budget to engage directly with communications agencies with local knowledge, as they can afford it.

So I believe it’s a catch 22 situation where a “slow economy” is equivalent to a non-vibrant marketing communications industry and hence reduced briefs to agencies. So fewer campaigns to put in for awards where ‘originality’ is a criteria for winning, and gold will not be awarded if an idea is not original, resonates, and delivers on the campaign objectives amongst other jury considerations.

Local agencies and foreign competition with high-level technology, financial muscle and manpower
Remember that “foreign” is a relative word. It is the standard that matters. Nigeria is an open economy that welcomes businesses that operate within the confines of the law and professional guidelines. There are a lot of “foreign companies already doing business in Nigeria in other segments of the economy, but they operate with the guidelines of the regulatory bodies in Nigeria such as NAFDAC and NCC amongst others.

Similarly APCON is our regulatory organ of government in Nigeria, that is set-up to guide the practice of advertising and all that is happening is for all our AAAN members to continue to comply with the new licensing regime that will kick off in 2013. In our profession, we are desirous of growth and recognition either from foreign agencies or local agencies so we collaborate and grow the entire industry and ultimately Nigeria, in a win-win situation. “Foreign’ does not mean better, hence we want to ensure the ‘foreign’ agencies that come into our industry abide by our code of conduct and professional guiding laws as stipulated by law. AAAN does that, hence the success of the association for almost 40 years.

Several agencies in our membership cadre already operate ‘world class agency standards’ and meet up (or even surpass), any well established ‘foreign agency around the world. Hence most AAAN agencies have the basic technology, knowledge, financial muscle and manpower, to compete on a level playing ground in Nigeria and anywhere else in the world. Some global companies are also asking some of our AAAN agencies to compete for work outside Nigeria to confirm our standards.
This trend is gradually increasing due to the exposure cum gains of LAIF by our members, recognising excellence amongst other professional practice standards. We therefore welcome the development, as we will all continue to re-invent ourselves or collaborate to remain ethically competitive.

New media’s impact on advertising industry in 2013
“New media” is simply a new communication channel. Recall there was no “TV” stations in Nigeria once-upon -a time (only radio stations) and now we have over 100 stations. New media communication channels are emerging as a result of digital technology. The task is simply to think beyond “mass media” in developing communication ideas where there was a lot of “broadcasting” to a “broader” audience to “narrow casting” as I have been taught, that is, to a more target specific audience which digital technology allows within seconds of ‘click of a button.”  The lingo for digital media is also a little different. The impact would be positive as it is expanding the scope of work possibilities for professional in our association.

Members of AAAN are all aware of the need to continuously upgrade our skills to be aware and abreast of issues in general and workshops have already been embarked upon in 2012 to discuss this and in 2013 and beyond. We will continue with such exposure at different levels.

2013 projections
2013 will still be a year of “changes” as industry reforms will start to be implemented. There will likely be a lot more collaborations, consolidations and re-vitalisation of the industry as a whole as it is becoming clearer to all stakeholders about the need to engage in professional agencies even to handle communications of governmental policies. We look forward to many more government agencies, ministries and even the federal government working with professional AAAN registered agencies to work as professional consultants on a lot more public communications plans as done in the public sector and in other countries.

We hope to pioneer with a model prototype for developing government campaigns on social issues working with the state governments. We were able to get the interest of the Lagos State government in the 2012 LAIF Awards via dialogue with LASAA and they supported the importance of such an event promoting creativity with the full attendance of the managing director of LASAA and donation of advertising space on LASAA bill boards further supporting the entire LAIF Awards campaign and event in November 2012.

We intend to pursue this open door even further with Lagos State (and possibly other states), for our members to contribute to building socially relevant and corporate responsibility “brands” for government. 2013 will be the 40th Anniversary of AAAN and we will use the opportunity to further promote the gains of using professional advertising practitioners to develop our industry and make it a career of first choice.

From a business angle, we will have to monitor quarterly the impact of the implementation of the industry reforms as it will cut across all members of the organised marketing communications and related industries like AAAN, ADVAN, OAAN and BON amongst others. As the compliance level improves, I really feel that it will be a win-win situation for professionals in all this sectors. It is those outside of professional conduct who engage in some form of ‘sharp practice’ that may go under when the full arm of the law reaches out.

Nigeria is a very significant emerging market for marketing communications service operations in Africa, as our population, national resources and business opportunities are very attractive in establishing businesses (despite all our infrastructural and security development challenges as a country). We will have new industry sectors emerging from the digital markets development and this again gives more “business opportunities to professional advertising agencies to pitch and grow.  2013 will be challenging but surmountable, as the key operating principle is that the professional agencies will always stand the true test of time.

Tags: Nigeria, Featured, Business, Bunmi Oke

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