• Saturday, July 20, 2024
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The near-reorder in Nigeria’s ad landscape may provoke fresh thinking


The over 80 years old Nigeria’s advertising industry, which has remained a close-up business ever since, may begin to open up following recent dynamics, especially the emergence of young creative agencies at the centre.

It is believed that the creative strength suddenly displayed by the young agencies would obviously stir the industry to new thinking, which could result in new phase in the industry. The paradigm shift also seen in the clinching of top creative awards and recognitions, according to experts, will likely provoke new thinking in the industry.

Up till now, the industry has been dominated by family businesses, lack of mergers and disinterest in listing, but the CEO of 3XM Ideas, Steve Babaeko, a two-year creative agency that has won several awards, sees a paradigm shift from the present status quo.

“Right now, there is sizeable shift happening with younger agencies emerging. The guys who were in the fore front are no longer in the driving seat. A new power blog is emerging. Now, for the first time in a long time, we are seeing merger in the industry. I will not be surprised if there is more shake up in 2015. We are likely to see more of it in 2015. What we had were big fishes in little ponds for a long time. People don’t want to be smaller fishes in bigger ponds. We may see new developments and more mergers in 2015,” according to Babaeko.

On what is actually pushing and energising the new generation agencies, Babaeko says “it is a normal shift and normal everywhere else. Even in other climes, there is always the rise of some new agencies that is giving everybody sleepless night. This business is about regeneration. Why the new agencies to me is different is the new approach to business.”

On the possibility of opening up the industry to other shareholders, Babaeko says what we practice here is subsistence advertising instead mechanised advertising. “People create business for themselves and their family. Unlike the WPPs of this world, which are quoted. However, it takes time to grow above the mentality of small agencies for me and my family. Some don’t even want to give staff who worked for them for up to 20 years any shares, not to talk of listing. It is about mind-shift and this needs to happen for progress,” he says.

What will cause that mind-shift is that at some point, the economy will open up more as Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa, he says. “If we are able to get electricity right and the level of production goes up, the economy opens more, then more people will come here to do their business and we will have no choice than to run this business as it should be run. Now, with APCON reform, there is a limit to which foreigners will buy shares in advertising industry. May be that law will change when the economy opens up,” he says.

Lanre Adisa, CEO of six years old Noah’s Ark, who recognises that the creative business is about resolving challenges, tensions and generating good ideas, corroborated Babaeko’s view that the industry has witnessed a shift, believing that the top agencies are no more pulling their weight as they should.

According to him, the emergence of young agencies will continue in 2015, as new entities will come and new things done. Going forward, he says what will play up more is that clients will care about ideas, as the ideas matter more than affiliations, saying collaborations will take centre stage than affiliations.

Some stakeholders and marketing communication practitioners, including chairman of MediaReach OMD, George Thorpe, have faulted the Advertising Reform championed by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), which placed hurdles on the entry of foreign advertising firms into Nigeria.

They believe that reform is anti-competitive which is not capable of bringing out the best in Nigerian practitioners. “I believe that the clause that places a level of restriction on the practice of advertising and marketing by foreigners in Nigeria is not well defined,” according to Thorpe, recently.

The Nigerian advertising industry, which began in 1928 with the establishment of Lintas (then West African Publicity), has obviously witnessed considerable growth in terms of billings and number of agencies, but significantly, the agencies emerged, according to experts, on the back of the “failure of of owners of the leading agencies to cede some of their ownership to loyal employers, who have served them for years. It is believed that if the experienced hands in the agencies have stake in the business, it will be difficult for them to leave and start competing with their former employers.”

Daniel Obi