• Friday, July 12, 2024
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Will clients receive more as AAAN academy begins March?


Nigeria’s marketing communication industry, including advertising and PR is losing talents at a faster rate to clients’ side. Though the trend is a global phenomenon but Nigeria’s case is peculiar as there is no special academy that generates pool of talents for the industry. It was therefore heartening to hear the eventual coming on board of AAAN academy after a long time. Daniel Obi examines the expected impact.

For about 15 years, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) has planned the setting up of its advertising school. Year over year, it appears the academy will kick off anytime soon. But this time, it seems that the Kelechi Nwosu leadership has tightened all the lose ends, as it has picked March this year to launch the long awaited academy. What this means is that, clients who are thirsty for more high quality creative work should now be hopeful.

The academy was an effort by the over 80-member association, to provide and equip individuals in the advertising profession on creative delivery, and meeting communication needs of clients, especially in the ever evolving environment.

According to the association, the idea to set up such institution is also, perhaps to train those who want to create a career path for themselves in advertising, for skills acquisition, and also an avenue to organise leadership training for professionals in the marketing communication industry.

  It is also designed to be a “first class advertising education and leadership development institute- a one stop center for skills acquisition and a citadel of learning that will guarantee academic and professional excellence, through continuous sharing of knowledge and ensuring integrity in the conduct of business while building strong leaders and a steady pool of first class advertising professionals.”

In those last 15 years, the market has waited patiently as the association continues to make promises of the take off. For instance, Rufai Ladipo who served for one term in 2011, made a statement similar to the ones made by the past leaderships, when he said that the business plan of the academy has been completed, discussed and agreed by the Advertising Academy’s Board.

“We have also engaged a consultant to facilitate the commencement of the academy. The registration has been completed and we are awaiting the Academy’s certificate, and other relevant documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission”, he was quoted as saying.

In 2016, Kelechi, in a related statement also promised that the school would hopefully kick off March this year, stating that AAAN is putting all its energy into it. The variation is that Kelechi assured a definite date and it is hoped that this time it is absolute.

Agency existence without such academy

It is a life of poaching, internal training and retraining. The retainership of a staff after training is not guaranteed as other companies are waiting to poach him/her. According to APCON registrar, Bello Kankarofi who briefed the minister of information, Lai Mohammed recently on the industry, “without such academy and massive training, agencies steal staff from themselves. Though, this could be normal, but it amounts to recycling.”

Some other agencies have their internal staff training programmes. For instance, Insight Communications, foremost creative agency; C & F, an operator on the PR side of marketing communication industry and some other agencies have relied on their talent strategy blueprint.

“As a business, we have a talent strategy that is reflective of where you are going, not where you are coming from.   Because we know we are moving towards a future that is digitally dominated and driven; a future where innovation is very key, we are focused on a future where the client wants the agency to become trusted advisors and partners.

We are now looking for more, not just regular traditional advertising people, because we know that the people who are trained in the traditional ways of advertising do not necessarily think that way. So, we look beyond the shores of advertising. We look to other industries where real innovation is happening and we bring people from there. We also train our people differently,” Feyi Olubodun, the Chief Operating Officer, Insight Communications Limited told BusinessDay recently.

For C&F it is retooling its internship programme to have  interns, even better prepared for the new communications road ahead. After training interns, the company may keep some of them.

“We will be working closely with industry leaders to come up with even more robust ways to reconfigure the internship programme and allow us to continue to graduate well-prepared classes of young PR gurus; people who are ready and able to carry us further into the millennium.  In response to what our customers want, we need to better understand the new tools and new methods available to us, in order to effectively communicate on behalf of our clients with our target audiences”, Emeka Mmaduegbuna said recently.

Some others rely on public organised workshops and seminars to train their staff- a development considered not enough to train managers in this communication-demanding time.

Chini Productions in collaboration with APCON has also linked up with International Advertising Festival, Cannes in two categories.  These are the Roger Hatchuel and the Lions, where they organize competitions internally to raise creative standards in the universities. This is a good step but not massive enough like the upcoming AAAN academy to serve the entire industry.

Client-agency relationship without academy

Clients are always in search of fresh thinking, innovative and great ideas. Ordinarily and more than ever before, this is the time of deep communication requirements in the industry and the marketing communication practitioners are always tasked to meet the increasing demands.

Sometimes, clients teleguide agencies on the belief that some of the agencies are not rooted enough on creativity and innovative skills. The industry also witnesses regular movement of accounts as clients continuously search for agencies with greater value.

The CEO of SO &U, Udeme Ufot’s comment at the launch of Nigeria PR report 2015 recently that “agencies cannot be respected unless they are creating value to their clients” was therefore instructive.

  There are also situations when clients engage foreign agencies to work on their brands from abroad. Lanre Adisa, the CEO of Noah’s Ark, strongly believed that in spite of APCON reform, which puts huddles on foreign agency participation in the Nigerian marketing communication market, foreign agencies are playing in Nigeria in disguise. Instead of clients going abroad in search for creative works, in spite of the reform, Lanre advocated that the advertising industry needs to shift conversation from the fear of foreign invasion to foreign collaboration.

The review of the reform would also create a more competitive industry, provide grounds to train the next generation through exposure and confidence building, and re-register Nigeria on the global map.

The expected tonic in forthcoming AAAN academy

When the AAAN academy comes on stream, it is expected not only to lift the standard of the Nigerian advertising industry on the global scene, but also equip professionals with local and international experiences needed to execute their jobs.

It is also expected that there will be good quality creative individuals available, and the agencies will have an opportunity to recruit the best graduates from the academy instead of poaching here and there.

Clients today want innovations and it is expected that the academy would serve as a manufacturer of creators of this innovation.

When this happens, clients will allow their accounts to domicile long time in an agency because they are getting what they want and there will be less reliance on foreign agencies handling local jobs. It is also expected that the academy as first class advertising education and leadership development institute- a one stop center for skills acquisition and a citadel of learning that will guarantee academic and professional excellence, would further generate the necessary clients’ confidence in the industry on value creation.

Daniel Obi