Advertising as Catalyst for Economic Growth

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    The Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria at its 2018 annual lecture did not just deepen understanding of advertising but raised issues on its economic relevance, Raheem Akingbolu reports

    The nation’s advertising community has again challenged drivers of the economy to explore communication to take country to another level.

    The practitioners, who at the recently-held Annual General Meeting of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), in Abeokuta, Ogun State, proposed a well-structured economic road map that will factor in advertising and other legs of marketing. The topic of the AGM lecture was ‘Growing the Economic ‘Pot’: The Role of Advertising,’

    Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, who opened the session advised advertising practitioners on ways of growing the country’s economy for their benefit and that of the country in general.

    Amosun, who was represented at the event by Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Dayo Adeneye, urged practitioners to stick to the ethical code of the profession, especially as politics was in the air, by avoiding divisive and inciting messages. The governor noted that it was by avoiding such that the country could attract more investors and advertising agencies, more clients.

    Delivering his keynote address at the event, the Guest Speaker and Chairman of Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh, called on practitioners to brace up and be ready to frontally confront the challenges facing advertising practice in the 21st century.

    The Channels Television boss, who was represented by another veteran in the nation’s media industry, Mr. Kingsley Uranta, an Assistant General Manager of the company, also urged advertising practitioners to leverage the various opportunities technology has provided to further enhance their businesses.

    Mommoh, noted that the event offered the industry another opportunity to review its processes. He advised practitioners to keep track of changes in their practice so as to improve knowledge and efficiency, pointing out that with new technologies, the impact of advertising was now more measurable.

    He argued that though advertising might not be experiencing the best of times, of late, there were still opportunities that could be explored to actually halt the dwindling fortunes of this multi-billion naira practice and bring it back to its winning ways.

    Experts’ views
    Leading the discussion on the keynote address was Mr. Philip Isakpa, publisher of Business AM. He was joined by Messrs. Kelechi Nwosu, Managing Director, TBWA Concepts; and Lanre Adisa, Managing Director, Noah’s Ark. Isakpa, argued that there was need to define the shape and size of the economic pot, for advertising to be able to play any role towards the building of such pot.

    “What type of pot are we growing? Big pot, small pot? If the pot is small, it means everybody will have very little to share, and if it is big it means there will be something for everybody. I think the challenge presently facing us as practitioners is that we are not growing any pot. So, our concerns should be what role should advertising play to ensure that the economic pot is grown?” the Business A.M Publisher, asked.

    He argued that for a paradigm shift in the practice. He stated that instead of waiting, endlessly, to be contacted for pitches by clients, practitioners should be ready to discover and explore new grounds.
    According to him, while the small and medium scale businesses, form the backbone of any economy and could be catalysts for growth, advertising practitioners in the country had not done enough towards encouraging that sector to really harness its potential

    “We all know that the SMEs are the backbones of any economy, and if the dream of growing the economic pot is to be realized, it is a sector that should be given maximum opportunities to harness its potential. But the question we need to ask ourselves is what are advertising agencies doing to help this sector’s cause?

    “Instead of endlessly waiting to be called for pitches, by the multi-nationals, why can’t advertising also be a disruptor like technology, by exploring all these new areas, hitherto left unexplored?” he asked rhetorically.
    He also argued that despite the steady growth the nation’s agricultural sector seems to be recording in the past few years, advertising practitioners had not done enough to leverage this to grow the economic pot.
    Besides, the business analyst also believe that the practice had not been selling the huge potential and opportunities Nigeria possesses.

    According to him, practitioners failed to seize the opportunity provided in 2014 when the nation’s economy was rebased from $270 billion economy to $510 billion to become the largest economy in Africa.
    “How did advertising practitioners leverage this to further grow the economic pot? How did they showcase to the world to attract investors, especially when it is obvious that such economic development attracts investments more than the population?
    “I think AAAN should begin to grow its own pot to enable it play a major role in building the nation’s economic pot,” he submitted.

    But to Adisa, practitioners should focus on how to grow the economic pot. The Noah’s Ark boss called for a self-appraisal among practitioners in the industry.

    “We need to re-appraise our roles as practitioners. For instance, we need to find out why we as an association have continued to lose members as well as gaining them. We need to look opportunities in the industry that we can leverage,” he stated.

    Adisa, believes there is the need for an appraisal of the skill-level of practitioners in the industry, noting that practitioners would only have the opportunity to disrupt and leverage harness potential, if the right skills are there.

    He noted that agencies had helped brands to grow, but added that many agencies were still traditional in orientation and need to reappraise their roles for improved efficiency and respect. Nwosu observed that agencies needed to create other things to remain relevant.
    Also speaking, Nwosu, however, believes advertising practitioners must be more entrepreneurial for them to significantly impact the economic pot.

    “For me, this is the best time to be in advertising. We need to be more entrepreneurial. A lot of us are still waiting for pitches when we have opportunities flying around us. The challenge that we have is that we are not creating enough products,” he added.

    Nwosu however allayed fears in some quarters about threat to traditional advertising by the new media, adding that new technologies had only come to enhance and disrupt the practice.

    Welcoming the members and guests to the 45th edition of the association’s annual event, the incumbent president, Mr. Kayode Oluwasona described the theme of the lecture as part of the association’s efforts towards enhancing the fortunes of the country, by ensuring practitioners play a major in growing her economy.

    Perhaps one thing that is obvious in all this is the fact that it has become imperative to grow the nation’s increasingly-shrinking economic pot. And , not a few therefore believe that for such to achieved, advertising practice, no doubt, has a huge role to play

    Appraisal

    With the heat debate that heralded the lecture, most of the practitioners who commented believed the topic could not have come at a more auspicious time.

    For instance, they argued that despite the much-touted relief, coming the way of the nation’s economy, after going into recession in 2016, when it contracted by 2.06% between April and June of that year, many believe the effects of such relief are yet to be felt by many individuals , households and even businesses in the country.

    Of course, analysts believe that one key sector that is truly yet to get out of the meltdown, despite the clean bill of health the nation’s economy has been given, of late, remains the advertising sector; a development, attributed to the nation’s shrinking economic pot.

    In a situation where a nation’s economic pot experiences a meltdown, the marketing spend is always the first casualty, because it shrinks, was the argument of many of the speakers at the event.

    Practitioners, in the sector, therefore believe that for the nation’s economic ‘pot’ to be successfully enhanced, not only will advertising play a big role, the practice must be ready to be a catalyst for such enhancement of the nation’s economic pot.

    In all, there was positive signal at the event that practitioners were ready to position themselves ahead the economic boom awaiting Africa.

    Meanwhile, in what looked like a pacesetting scenario, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed had two years ago held a closed door meeting with top management staff of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) and promised to support APCON to further develop the industry. The Abeokuta sitting might have been the reminder the minister wanted.