• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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National Advertising Conference, action plans missing

National Advertising Conference, action plans missing

About 250 advertising practitioners comprising delegates from all sectoral groups converged on Abuja between November 25 and 27, 2019 where they identified growth limitations for the industry. In this report, Daniel Obi suggests how they can achieve the objectives of the successful conference.

No one pretends that organising any conference and achieving the objective is that easy. That is why vehicles are put in motion to achieve the results after conference.

Late last month, Ijedi  Iyoha, first female Acting Registrar/CEO of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON, the apex regulatory body of the advertising and marketing industry in Nigeria did the extra-ordinary. Imbued with comprehensive knowledge and experience, she galvanized practitioners in the industry who are challenged by the environment to discuss solutions and a growth path.

They headed to Abuja for the maiden National Advertising Conference, principally to get the attention of the government that is equally central to the solutions. At the conference held in conjunction with all the sectoral groups in the advertising industry, many issues besetting the industry came up. In as much as they were not discussed in details, perhaps due to the limited time, it was significant they were tabled in such a combined stakeholders meeting.

The organisation of the conference was successful as the advertising practitioners were excited that the pains limiting their survival and growth were diagnosed. But what is left is the right cure and the ‘physicians’ to administer medications.

Among the issues which came up was according the industry the deserved relevance. It was indeed surprising that the industry which has operated for over 80 years is still seeking for significance, especially with government which is a signpost that something is definitely wrong somewhere.

For instance, government has for six years deliberately denied the industry the necessary supervisory board in spite of the major roles APCON plays in the economy. This is an indication that government does not either understand what the industry does or wants to politicize the organization by appointing a politician to head the board against the law.

At such unique forum in Abuja, Lai Mohammed, the minister of Information who oversees APCON sent his Perm Sec, Grace Ekpe and his speech failed to address the important issues around APCON board.

The forum however demanded for immediate constitution of APCON council to enable it play its statutory roles. But the over 6 years neglect by government pushed the forum to begin to seek for alternative in self-regulation for the industry.

Among the plethora of ailments touched at the conference include inconsistent policies by government, industry debt, lack of research among players, poor human capital, poor agency capitalisation, coping with digitization, multiple taxations, especially in Outdoor sector by various arms of government, effects of 2015/16 economic recession, budget cut by clients and competition from clients who set up their own marketing communication shops.

Read also: In Nigeria’s largest city, SMEs choke as touts levy multiple taxes

All these have combined to create cloudy and dark days for the industry operators.

The forum also discussed that the Federal Government should consider the establishment of a Federal Ministry of Public Communication to coordinate and manage centrally all government communication with the public.

It was also tabled that government should make deliberate effort at economic policy stability through extensive stakeholders’ consultations that includes practitioners in the marketing communication industry as a solution to the declining fortunes of the marketing communication industry.

The conference with central theme ‘Advertising in the Post Digital Age: The Profession, the Business and Nigeria’s Socio-economic Development’ afforded the players the opportunity to collectively take a critical re-assessment of the industry, its relationship with government, how to promote its economic impact that is downplayed and operating in digital era.

Though the conference was the maiden edition, but there was no actual steps taken at the end of the two-day conference to concretely resolve or attempt to tackle the issues raised. For instance, there was no agreement on a figure for agency capitalization, there was no action plans and steps to compel government to constitute APCON council and there was no plan to follow through on Biodun Shobanjo, chairman of Troyka Group’s suggestion of 60 days on media contract payment by clients and other issues around resolving industry debt challenges.

Shobanjo, chairman of Troyka Group, who spoke at the conference with about 250 delegates had proposed 60 days duration for payment of media contracts by clients perhaps through legislation. This is as an option of saving the media business as debt within the industry between clients, service providers, media owners and advertising agencies, with its implications, need to be checkmated.

On adequate regulation within the industry, Shobanjo whose presentation addressed contemporary issues in the industry further called on APCON to play its regulatory functions without fear or favour. “A situation where interlopers are allowed to infiltrate the business as the case in many sectoral sectors must be stopped”.

For instance “where the law prescribes that foreigners acquire not more than 25 percent equity in Nigerian advertising companies but this is circumvented by using unscrupulous Nigerians, must be stopped and reversed”.

After the two-day conference, most of the delegates who were largely from Lagos were in a hurry to catch their flights back to their destinations with no action plans or committees set up to map out solid steps to tackle the issues raised for the growth of the industry.

To some analysts, the forum made far-reaching suggestions for the survival of the industry that should not end at talking only. To concretely achieve the objective of the conference, what is left now is to set up a standing committee that will look at the issues raised and map out solid strategies and steps the industry must follow collectively and religiously to resolve the issues. Without this, the conference would have ended up as normal talk-shop.