Pandemic Hurts Experiential, Outdoor Advertising Companies

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Raheem Akingbolu

Employees of major outdoor companies and experiential agencies are currently in panic over job security as a result of negative signals from their employers due to decline in fortune during the lockdown.
According to THISDAY findings, some firms in the sub-sector have stopped their existing activities.

Reacting to the current challenge facing his industry, the President, Experiential Marketing Agencies of Nigeria (EXMAN), Tade Adekunle, said the industry has started experiencing hardship because clients have suspended most of their projects, adding that what matters now to agency owners and their clients, is to keep safe.

He said: “Unfortunately, the lockdown, as a resort of the global pandemic, has started having effect on our businesses because almost all projects are being suspended right now. The fact that the year was just about to kick off for most of us when this pandemic started made things worrisome,”
While calling on all to keep safe and keep hope alive due to the pandemic, the EXMAN boss admitted that post COVID-19 would bring its own challenges and that it would certainly not be business as usual.

“No doubt, there are still challenges ahead, especially in our own area of business be it activation or event aspect of it.
“No doubt there will be drastic loss in consumer spending which will affect revenue of most of our clients. To survive, we need to retool our thinking caps and come up with ingenious ideas for consumers to still experience the brands irrespective of cultural nuances. And the time to start thinking about it is now,” he added.

Another practitioner and the chief executive officer of GDM Experiential Company Limited, Victor Afolabi, expressed fear that if the crisis persists, it may lead to budget spending on marketing being frozen because of the business rejig that would be necessitated by the pandemic.
“However, budget spend on marketing as a whole may be frozen as companies are currently struggling with lack of raw materials. Besides, there is slow consumer spend and weak demand. As things are, the problem is not only about experiential agencies but the entire marketing industry, including advertising.

“All the sub-sectors of the marketing communication industry will heavily be impacted at the end if the global problem continues.
“But for experiential, this will be more imparted except agency Managers come up with creative and innovative ways to engage consumers without direct contact,” he stated.
Speaking further, Afolabi predicted that digital would no doubt be a leading channel of engagement at this time, adding that consumers will naturally spend more time consuming social media.

Meanwhile speaking recently on the Global Business Report segment of Arise News, Assistant General Manager, Corporate Communications at the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agencies (LASAA), Temitope Akande, admitted that the effect of the coronavirus pandemic and by extension, digital have dealt a terrible blow on Lagos outdoor business.

Akande, who pointed out that the sector contributes between four and five per cent of the state’s internal generated revenue said the last few weeks have been challenging but the agency is coping with the situation.

President of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN), Mr. Emmanuel Ajufo, also corroborated the position of the LASAA spokesman, but was optimistic that his members’ partnership with government at various levels would help the industry to bounce back.
“One of our unique strengths is that we are outdoors where our audience is. Now that coronavirus has forced us to stay indoors, the audience we used to use as our strength has been forced to stay indoors.

“Of course, this means that our clients will look for more appropriate channels to reach their audience. To this extent, we are receiving a lot of suspension and cancellation orders.
“Indeed, our sector is seriously hit and we hope that things will normalise soon enough for the lockdown to be lifted,” he added.

He stated that outdoor operators foresaw the situation and had decided to work closely with the government to rescue the industry.
“Truly the fear of business failure is real because we know that the economy will be affected by what we are all going through now.

“To this end, we are collating our projected losses and hope to use it to negotiate and appeal to the government to give our sector our own form of palliative. Luckily for us, we are presently helping government carry the COVID – 19 campaigns.
“We hope that this service will count for something when we come with our palliative request.

“It is our strong belief that if we are able to get some support from the government, our companies will be in a better place to fight for survival. It won’t be easy but we ll pull through hopefully,” Ajufo said.