• Monday, May 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

It is time for quiet agencies to start talking

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An Igbo adage says it is difficult to know purging goats as they lie. This saying is reminiscent of Nigeria’s marketing communication industry where the players are quiet (secretive). The belief of the players is that they should not be heard or seen. ‘Let my client do the talking,’ is the popular phrase in the industry.

The incomprehensive quietness among marketing communication agencies on their operations, including pitches, pitching fees, staff poaching and clients’ activities and marketing communication budgets cut, has given rise to assumptions of healthy and unhealthy agencies.

According to an analyst, it is true that the marketing communication industry is going through some difficult times, but when their activities are shrouded in secrecy, especially when they are pitching for accounts and how much involved, it is then right classifying majority of them as not doing well.

He says in the world of competition, “being quiet will be disadvantageous and a disservice to the industry, asking whether one blowing his trumpet is a sin.”

It is also important for the quiet agencies to start shouting because more foreign investors are entering the country and such ‘noise’ could attract attention to them, but they must have the wherewithal to defend the ‘noise.’

Meanwhile, some accounts are changing hands as the year goes by. Coke just announced the winner of its multimillion naira account, while Skye Bank has thrown its public relations account open.

After first half of 2014, a year expected to be buoyant for media agencies following envisaged plethora of activities, some agencies are winning new accounts while others are stretching necks like the ostrich for open accounts.

Those who are hoping on new accounts are looking towards new investors and politics for succour as serious minded politicians would like to engage marketing agencies for professional and meaningful communication messages.

In the recent time, the marketing communication industry has been under heat, as, according to a source, some companies have cut budgets drastically, extended payment terms for business beyond 30 days to up to 180 days, and sometimes over a year.

This development, he says, is adding pressure on the media agencies, some of which could not meet their obligations to banks, the news media and other sources.

The source, who prefers anonymity, says the delay in payment for contracts executed has been a recurring issue but “as it is now the clients are taking this for a ride without considering the agencies’ pains.”

He explains that the clients delay in payments to Nigerian agencies is stifling agencies and media business. But it appears the agencies in Nigeria are careful of making their protests loud because they want to avoid incurring the wrath of the advertisers who dictate the media business pace.

A managing director of an agency in Ikeja, Lagos, who prefers anonymity, says sometimes agencies wait for six months to be paid for jobs executed with borrowed money, saying “it is tough for agencies doing business here. The banks are also not helping matters. We borrow at over 22 percent per annum, and that is when the banks agree to support you to do the job and wait for payment.”

 

Daniel Obi