Marketing Fortunes Tied to Larger Economy in 2019

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Despite the lull in the marketing communications sector in 2018, practitioners in the industry foresee boom after this year’s election as many local and international companies will be looking for agencies that would help them remain relevant in the market, reports Raheem Akingbolu

Contrary to the views in some quarters that the poor economic carry-over from last year would adversely affect this year, a cross section of marketing communications practitioners have argued that marketing budget will shore up in 2019. In separate interviews with THISDAY, they pointed out that there will be more pressure for MarComms expertise to deploy all its creativity and ingenuity in order to deliver better ROI on every Naira squeezed out for marketing spend.

President, Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN), John Ehiguese, though admitted that things might be a bit slow in the first half of the year, because of the elections, he is confident that business will pick up in the second half of the year, when things should be calmer and the economy more stable.

He said: “The fortunes of the Nigerian PR are directly tied to the performance of the larger national economy. Business is good for PR when the economy is doing well. We expect that things might be a bit slow in the first half of the year, because of the elections. But we expect business to pick up in the second half of the year, when things should be calmer and the economy more stable. Of course this will also depend largely on the performance of the global oil market, on which the Nigerian economy depends for its survival and progress.”

To the President of Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), Mrs. Folake Ani-Mumuney, as the economy contracts, there will be more demand for the services of marketing communication experts to chart the way to go for businesses to flourish.

Mumuney, who is also the Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications at the First Bank Group, stated that the winning brands will be those brands, whose leadership appreciate this challenge and recognise the need to invest in building and shoring up brand equity and taking the longer term view that such investments are a major requirement for building sustainable institutions. She concluded that the winking brands will be the brands.

This was also the position of the President of Experiential Marketing Association of Nigeria (EXMAN), Kehinde Salami, who predicted that there would be infusion of digital into activation as one bundle offering in 2019 as well as diversification across and outside the below the line value chain.

“With hopefully a stable political environment after the election, brands will increase spend to catch up on lost grounds. Also the advent of new product and categories will further aid activation hence a bright future awaits experiential firms that have strong defined processes, skilled workforce and financial muscle to accommodate large ticket projects,” he said.

Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of TPT International, a leading public relations firm in the country, Tokunbo Modupe, said he expected a more vibrant industry devoid of politically induced fears of marketing investment by clients.

“Marketing spends and initiatives were low in 2018 and that affected not a few agencies. With elections coming up early in 2019, hopefully after a winner has emerged, there will be stability. The economy requires political stability to thrive,” Modupe stated.

Looking back at the happenings in 2018, the CEO of Neo Media Marketing, Ehi Brahima, described last year as a very difficult year for business owners and entrepreneurs with low spending power of consumers. He also pointed out that government regulations affected most of their clients, especially in the area of excise duty that was increased, stiff competition and the fight for relevance and foreign exchange that remained a bottleneck throughout the year.

While calling on the government to tighten the loose ends in 2019, he reminded the nation’s economy managers that the upcoming elections have started affecting investor confidence thereby reducing FDI.

According to him, if proactive measures are taken in the new year, these issues will not affect marketing communications budget and it will lead to encouraging marketing spend.

For the industry to witness any significant change in 2019, a former Communications Manager at Guaranty Trust Bank, Muyiwa Moyela, advised practitioners to begin rediscovering the strategic essence of their work.

“My expectations for the marketing communication industry in Nigeria are three-fold: that practitioners begin to rediscover the strategic essence of their work; that the industry begins to devote a fair share of earnings and profits in talent acquisition, retention and development; and for practitioners to rise above ‘stomach infrastructure’ issues in the discharge of their duties. All of these will require industry leadership, group discipline, and constantly seeking to create value for the industry and for clients,” Moyela said.

Though he also believes that 2019 looks good for practitioners, the Executive Secretary of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, Lekan Fadolapo is worried about the reluctance of federal government to constitute the council of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON).

“Been an election year, it is expected that the industry spend will be higher due to political campaigns. We hope that the federal government will appoint a chairman for APCON and inaugurate the APCON Council to be able to provide the necessary leadership and regulation for the larger industry,” he added.