Communications Companies to Watch in 2019

Despite the lull in business activities in 2018, which also affected operations of many marketing communication agencies, some communication firms still pulled off some laudable feats during the year and this may as well position them ahead others in 2019. Raheem Akingbolu writes

Buoyed by the award of ‘Public Relations Consultancy of the Year’ at the 2018 edition of Lagos Public Relations Industry Gala and Awards (LAPRIGA) organised by the Lagos State Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), XLR8, one of West Africa’s leading public relations and communications consultancies, entered the new year with a renewed vigor to help its clientele remain ahead of the curve through the provision of top quality and bespoke communication services.

Noah’s Ark
For Noah’s Ark, the out gone year recorded an impressive performance as the agency continued to show its class among the league of new generations. On the continental level, the agency has shown that it was a force to reckon with, getting nominations back to back at African Cristal Award.

Troyka Group: Insight Communications, Rosabell Advertising Limited, Promoserve Limited and Centrespread Advertising Limited. These names belong to agencies that carry the baton of second generation advertising agencies. They started in the late 70s to the early 80s but one name that has stood out among the pack is that of Insight. Built and nurtured by irrepressible Biodun Shobanjo. Insight has not only built brands but has equally become a brand on its own. In what looked like a calculated attempt to cushion the effect of the recession period, Biodun Sobanjo’s Troyka Group, in 2016, concluded its equity partnership deal with Publicis Groupe.

Prima Garnet: The silent re-engineering taking place at one of the nation’s oldest third generation indigenous advertising agencies is an indication that the Lolu Akinwunmi-led advertising giant will have a busy 2019. Few months ago, Akinwumi unveiled a book ‘Skin for Skin: The Prima Garnet Story’. 2019 may be the year for him to prove his promoters right.

X3M Ideas: Conveniently one of the best creative agencies in Nigeria with global recognition to show for it. Aside its consistent winning at the Lagos Advertising & Ideas Festival (LAIF), X3M Ideas has also made Nigeria proud at African Cristal Award in Morocco. In 2018, the agency extended its operations to South Africa, where it now oversees the affairs of three locations. Some of its clients include; Glo, Multichoice DSTV, FrieslandWamco – Peak Milk, Chivas and FBN Quest for First Bank.

Casers Group: For over three decades, the Casers group and its subsidiaries, DDB Lagos, Capital Media and Magenta have been making waves in the Nigerian marketing communications space. At the last edition of LAIF awards in Lagos, which is Nigeria’s most definitive event that recognises, rewards and promotes creative excellence in all areas of advertising and marketing communications, DDB again proved its mettle by pushing other agencies to the back seat. DDB Lagos is also the first Nigerian creative agency to receive international recognition when it won an EPICA Award for its “Speechless” campaign developed for GirlHub (an advocacy project for the Northern girl child sponsored by the Nike Foundation in partnership with USAID/DFID) in 2012.

THISDAY/ARISE TV: A major stakeholder in the marketing communications industry, this brand had a role to play in shaping businesses in 2018. With the contribution of the two media outfits – THISDAY and ARISE TV, to business and political developments in 2018, the two brands may as well lead in 2019 when it comes to agenda-setting and platforms for brands to excel. The management of the two organisations must have seen this coming as a lot are currently being done to restructure the media conglomerate. THISDAY/ARISE TV recently broke a remarkable record with the introduction of first of its kind series of one-on-one presidential debates to help voters learn more about the two forefront presidential candidates, through which top editorial staff of the two companies had exclusive interview with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K): H+K is a global public relations and integrated communications agency. The company was launched in May 2015 with the opening of an office in Victoria Island Lagos. Mrs. Tokunboh Georg-Taylor was appointed to serve as Managing Director and still heads the Company in that capacity. Hill+Knowlton Strategies Nigeria builds on the company’s existing strong presence in Sub-Saharan Africa and further extends the agency’s ability to serve its rapidly expanding client interests in African countries in a fully integrated way.

HS MEDIA GROUP: HS Media Group, owners of the HotSports brand is Nigeria premiere sports marketing and media content development & Production Company. The company which started as a one TV programme production company, HOTSPOTS NETWORK on NTA over 20 years ago has diversified into six business subsidiaries: HotSports Nigeria, PRIMEDIA International, HS Production Facilities, HS Mintamatics, HS I-SAT Hotsports, and HS TV College.
With its new ultra-modern digital studio complex which is the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa, HS will revolutionise the Media content production and Television broadcast industry in Nigeria and indeed Africa in 2019.

PR Redline: For PR Redline, a member of the CentrespreadGrey group, the next twelve months promises upward turn of events, as the firm gears to be more engaging and innovative in its business approach. Redline has been the sole image reputation manager of the Pan African Bank, Ecobank Nigeria in the last three years, and from all indications will maintain its grip on the account. Coupled with the experience and innovative leadership skills of the new Managing Director of the company, Moruff Adenekan, who was poached from BHM, it can be safely said that PR Redline stands a good chance of making a remarkable impact in the industry in 2019.

C&F Porter Novelli: At the tail end of last year, C&F Porter Novelli won two awards at the Lagos Public Relations Industry Gala and Awards (LaPRIGA). In award that has a total of 13 categories; C & F was pronounced the Model Agency of All Time and the LaPRIGA Lifetime Achievement Awards.
For those who know the history of the agency and its owner, Nn’emeka Maduegbuna the achievement was not a surprise.

Image Merchants Promotion Limited: Image Merchants Promotion Limited, the publishers of PRNigeria and Economic Confidential, has remained the only PR firm to have consistently won the annual Golden World Award of International Public Relations Association (IPRA) on Crisis Management in Qatar 2016, Bulgaria 2017 and Spain 2018. Apart from bagging multiple SABRE awards hosted by African Public Relations Association (APRA) in Morocco and Botswana, its press release platform, PRNigeria remains the major source of credible information on Military, Security, Intelligence and Response Agencies in Nigeria.

Media Edge: For Media Edge, year 2018 was a mixed bag. Mixed bag in the sense that it experienced the good, the bad and the ugly as is common to all players in the Nigerian corporate community, most especially in the integrated marketing communications sector. The year was good and excellent as MARKETING EDGE publications, a brand focused marketing magazine in Nigeria, and a member of Media Edge Group recorded another landmark with the introduction of MARKETING EDGE on TV.

Brooks & Blakes: Though it lost the MTN account in 2018, the development didn’t deter Brooks & Blakes from making a significant impact on 2018, through other businesses and innovation. Knowing that the youth market has held sway on research outcomes and policy formulation where it affects what brands do and how they do it, the agency collaborated with other organisations to birth the Higher Institutions Football League (HiFL) and growth of social media influencers. With the popularity of the platform, 2019 will provide huge opportunity for Brooks & Blakes to explore. Since consumers’ voice and impact on marketing direction will grow stronger the agency will be better for it.

Caritas Communications: With the publication of a book ‘Public Relations Thoughts and Deeds,’ in November last year, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Caritas Communications, Adedayo Ojo Caritas Communications, has set the tone for 2019. The 128 pages book gives a global perspective of the practice, while presenting an array of case studies to readers.

Oracle Experience Limited: Oracle and a few experiential agencies have in the last few years proved to brand owners that it is easier to sell products that are innovative and socially conscious than pushing for more market share through advertising. The agency, which has consistently worked for Nigerian Breweries, is believed to have contributed immensely to the success of most brands from the stable in recent time. Among other achievements in 2018, Oracle helped Nigerian Breweries to build a 60ft “Aro Meta” statue, which some people also refers to as ‘three wise men’ with over 10,000 crates of the Star Lager at the one week-long ‘One Lagos Fiesta’.

Chain Reactions Nigeria
Managing Director/Chief Strategist of Chain Reactions Nigeria, Israel Jaiye Opayemi, recently won the ‘PR Practitioner of the Year’ at the 2018 edition of Lagos PR Industry Gala Awards (LaPRIGA). Opayemi’s agency is the exclusive Nigerian affiliate and preferred West Africa’s partner of Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm with presence in 65 countries across the globe.

Though the agency currently works for 9mobile and Facebook, one of his major achievements in 2018 was the way he successfully changed the narratives about the current Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and repositioned the former minister for governor. In 2019, he will have a lot to do.

IDEAS House: If what defines a marketing communication agency is the ability to look beyond others and proffer far-reaching solutions to marketing challenges, then one can comfortably concludes that IDEAS House will rule the experiential business environment in 2019. With companies struggling to find their feats in the post recession era, savvy brand managers will sure look beyond advertising to influence consumers and this will give experiential marketing companies huge advantage. For Kehinde Salami’s IDEAS House, this year may be the time to reap the gain of its creative ingenuity.

Compact Communications: Owned by Chuddy Oduenyi, one of the most cerebra Public Relations practitioners in the country, Compact Communications is behind the success stories of some brands in Nigeria, including Polaris Bank and Smiles. The success and visibility of DDB, a creative agency can also be linked with Compact who for many years handled its PR need.

Nitro 121: Established about 13 years ago as 141 Worldwide and nurtured by British born Bunmi Oke, who resigned two years ago to float Ladybird Limited, the agency recently rebranded with new name and logo.
Its Managing Director, Lampe Omoyele, said the new identity was an evolution aimed at achieving higher height, with major focus on teamwork high performance. He also promised that Nitro 121 will henceforth provide better digital, creative and engagement for the clients and stakeholders.

Though established a year ago by a former Chief Executive Officer of The Quadrant Company, Bolaji Okusaga, Precise is positioned to help many businesses grow in 2019. In the last one year, it has not only provided strategic communications for many companies, Precise has helped many clients to formulate and push the bounds of possibilities in the market place.

Black House Media Limited: In the last three years, BHM Limited has become popular for its engaging platforms and other innovations. In an industry where data and measurement are always a challenge, the agency in 2016 launched the first PR Report, which served as a major step towards solving a perennial industry problem.

AbsolutePR Limited: This agency will be celebrating 10 years of building and managing brands and reputations in the country this year, having been established by Akonte Ekine in 2009 when he left one of the companies where he worked as a revolutionary managing director. Over the years, the AbsolutePR brand has managed communication activities for top brands playing in various sectors of Nigeria’s economy, including Unilever, Ecobank and MoneyGram.

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