Despite the difficult and unfamiliar circumstances, the current global pandemic has thrown businesses, perception management experts and advertising practitioners have called on brand owners in Nigeria to quickly adapt so that their businesses would not sink with the pandemic after the crisis.
A former chairman of Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Lolu Akinwumi, in an interview with THISDAY admitted that COVID-19 has disrupted businesses and could plunge Nigeria into a fresh round of recession which may lead to the collapse of some businesses, if handlers of such businesses fail to think out of the box.
“The current crisis goes beyond the ad industry. Sadly, this is coming when oil is earning little for the country and we don’t have choice than to borrow massively. As you know government spending largely drives the economy. “Nigeria May be getting into a very tough season. Many businesses are likely to collapse. Unfortunately, many cli bits are not likely to be able to fund any type of marketing campaign or activities,” he said.
But despite the circumstance, the President of African Public Relations Association (APRA), Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, has urged business owners to be both compassionate and professional while the crisis lasted to survive the surge. According to the marketing communication expert, the time to apply some strategic public relations solutions, driven by technology is now.
“This is a global crisis that has redefined our day-today operations. As things are, both business owners and their customers are concerned majorly about coming out of this alive. But despite this, the business owner must still passionately pass across his message to connect with the target audience.
“To communicate effectively now, businesses must re-evaluate the market and be sensitive in content. In talking to consumer, the content must be uplifting and the platform must be accessed easily,” he added.
In line with the position of the APRA boss, a former President of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, (AAAN), Bunmi Oke, also pointed out that it was important for brands to be, “sensitive and sensible” about marketing campaigns, “as they have to be in touch with consumer realities.”
“At the moment, brand campaigns must be tweaked to demonstrate some form of empathy in line with natural human relations during a “crisis” of some sort. Life for consumers in Nigeria and worldwide has been disrupted, and consumers want to deal with brands that relate with them as people, at the moment and not just with “their pockets,” she said.
According to him, a caring brand would outlive the pandemic with consumers reciprocating, “fair play or otherwise after the storm passes and the true test of caring brands are during a crisis.”
“Responsible global or local brand, （even people and country brands) will rise to the occasion and relate with the spirit of the season. At the moment there is a global pandemic and the leadership responsibilities and people expectations become even tougher as leadership is needed even more to weather the storm,” she added.
On the need for business owners to adapt to what the current crisis has thrown their way, the current Vice President of AAAN, Steve Babaeko, said the crisis has changed the media landscape and consumer media consumption habit, a situation which call for adjustment.
He said: “Out of home investment has gotten a big knockdown, same thing with activation, music or event sponsorships. Television has suddenly become important again for the first time since the last decade. Besides, daytime viewership has also spiked as opposed to drive time. Finally, I think the time for brand owners to leverage on influencer program and digital is now because the two platforms have also become must have tools,” Babaeko stated.
Coronavirus is an unprecedented public health crisis that is quickly becoming an unprecedented economic crisis. With the country on an indefinite lockdown Federal, state governments and corporate organisations have devised various means of doing businesses.
In response to the global pandemic, many countries have also asked everyone who can work from home to do so. Meanwhile, some businesses have been closed down completely by these restrictions, while others have had an easier transition to remote working.