• Monday, December 04, 2023
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Creativity and style in promoting number portability


It was William Bernbach, the late American advertising creative director, who once said “Nobody counts the number of ads you run, they just remember the impression you make.”This statement is as true today as it was when Bernbach, co-founder of the international advertising agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach, made it some decades ago.

To test Bernbach’s hypothesis visualises an ad scene that is musical with engaging lyrics. The choreography is top notch and attention grabbing. The message is clear with a delivery that is short and sharp. The ad begins with a man backing the camera. A ray of green light comes behind him and just as you are wondering what this is all about, the man suddenly faces you, amidst a flood of yellow light. He then begins flinging his hands and shuffling his feet, singing and shouting “I don port o! I don port o!”

That advert produced for MTN by DDB Lagos has become the most talked about advert since MNP was flagged off in late April. Using Hafeez Ayetoro (known to many people as Saka), a popular face in the Yoruba home video industry and until that ‘porting,’ the major face of MTN’s competitor, Etisalat advert campaign, DDB has once again proven that it is imaginative, creative in its content provision and that the awards it has won over the years were very well earned.

In the struggle to gain market share, the four GSM companies in Nigeria – MTN, Airtel, Glo and Etisalat – have devised several means and strategies to outsmart one another. This war for the subscriber’s pocket became further heightened with the introduction of the MNP by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as a way of deepening the market and making subscribers have value for their money. Since then, all the telecommunication networks have been running adverts wooing subscribers to switch over to their network but ‘I don port o!’ advert remains outstanding.

There are four essential characteristics of good advertising. It should be of interest to the audience; the audience should interpret the message in the intended manner; it should influence the audience; and it should be simple and accurate.

This is in tandem with the counselling by Leo Burnett, founder of the Leo Burnett Worldwide advertising agency, who once said that for an advert to be successful, “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” The ‘I don port o!’ copy meets all these requirements.

In creating that copy, DDB used Saka’s appearance which evokes laughter, humour and it worked so perfectly. It takes a good advertising company to create a character that fits so perfectly into an act the way Saka fits so well into the ‘I don port o!’ campaign. Companies and organisations that want to carve a niche in their areas of operations and increase their share of the market go for advertising companies that can help them deliver the right message.

The ‘I don port o!’ campaign for MTN falls into the tradition of excellence which DDB has been known for in the last few years. This tradition has seen the company win several awards both in Nigeria and abroad. Last year, one of DDB’s creative works, ‘Speech.ess’ done for the Girl Hub, was named ‘Luerzer’s Archive print ad of the week.’

Luerzer’s Archive is one of the foremost advertising magazines in the world and after a painstaking process the magazine selected DDB Lagos’ advert over hundreds of other print advert materials collated from around the world.

In 2008, two creatives from the agency were awarded the top two prizes at that year’s Young Lions Film Competition and they represented Nigeria at the 2008 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival held in Cannes, France. History was made as it was the first time a team represented Nigeria at the Cannes event.

The same year, the firm dazzled at the Lagos Advertising & Ideas Festival (LAIF) as it won a record total of 14 LAIF awards made up of two gold, seven silver and five bronze medals. It confirmed the DDB as the most awarded in the history of the festival with a record average of 10 yearly.

In 2010, it remained one of LAIF’s biggest winners with 10 awards and a grand prix.

Also in 2008, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) Advertising Standards Panel awarded DDB the most compliant agency in the telecommunications category.

These accolades didn’t just happen. The agency has an enviable pedigree. DDB Lagos is a member of DDB Worldwide, the world’s second largest advertising network with over 206 offices in 96 countries.

In Nigeria, it opened shop in 1987 as CASERS Advertising and over the years, the number and size of its client base has grown by leaps and bounds. The revolution witnessed in the telecom industry in with the take-off of GSM mobile telephony from 2001 gave a major boost to the advertising industry. DDB Lagos got a pitch and today, it has been doing great job for MTN, Nigeria’s biggest telecommunications company.

Acknowledging these, the company’s managing director, Ikechi Odigbo, said in an interview that DDB Lagos works for some of Africa’s biggest brands across several categories, saying “each of these clients benefits from the expertise we bring to bear and as even as these giant steps are being applauded, our sights are already firmly set on a bigger and brighter future.”

However, the giant strides the agency has made in the last few years in global achievement both in terms of awards and attracting ‘A’ bracket clients would not have been made possible by pedigree alone if DDB did not put emphasis on human capital development. Odigbo said apart from leveraging on the rich creative heritage of DDB worldwide as the second most awarded global network, the Lagos agency has continued to make significant investments in knowledge capital.

Amakree, a marketing communication analyst, writes from Abuja