Stakeholders in the advertising community will assemble again on Thursday for the industry’s annual Public Forum with the theme; Who is Killing Advertising? The forum which is being organised by the leadership of Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria (APCON) is aim at rescuing advertising business from being collaped. The problem facing the industry got compounded in January when it was rumoured and later confirmed by Mr Lolu Akinwumi, President, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) that some foreign agencies were coming to begin practice in Nigeria. The news jotted stakeholders, especially members of Akinwumi – led AAAN, who quickly came together at a retreat in Ijebu Ode to nip the incursion in the bud. After the two days retreat where different strategies were fine tuned to protect their members, AAAN issued a communiqué that where a passionate appeal was made to government on the need to protect the local practitioners.
To be able to compete favourably with the foreign agencies, the communiqué also appealed to AAAN members to improve on their creative ingenuity and advance in standard. It is not the AAAN members alone that are struggling to save their business, members of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria, led by Mr Kole Ademulegun have for close to two years lock horn with the Lagos State Signage and Advertising Agency (LASAA) over what they described as “high handedness” of the agency’s General Manager, Mr Makanjuola Alabi. After all effort to make LASAA bend its rule on regulation of the industry failed, OAAN members grudgingly accepted to play along but not without some casualties of the war.
Because of accumulated practice fee and Outdoor Averages 1519% rate increase which are expected to be paid by those who are willing to remain in business, many were found at crossroads. Some closed shops, some resorted to Soludo’s option of merger while some are yet to decide on what to do. Another thing that is capable of killing advertising which may interest discussants at the Thursday’s forum is the unethical behaviour of practitioners who are fond of cutting corners. Some dubious practitioners are fond of adopting any machiavalian principle while pitching for new account and this has responsible for the downfall of many upcoming agencies. Apart from this, there are some agencies that have died as a result of transition from one hand to the other. A selfish founder may find it difficult to vacate the seat for somebody who is professionally equipped to paddle the canoe of the agency. For selfish reason, such agency is left to a family member to be messed up.
In another way round, some greedy employee who climbed the ladder to the post of the Chief Executive Officer, in an attempt to set up their own agencies often use the resources generated from the agency they are overseeing to service the second line agency they are grooming. Though, acquiring international badge through foreign affiliation has been singled out as one of the best means through which an agency can be able to get to the top, there are some occasions when the practice has led to collapse of the local partners.
Two of Nigeria’s largest agencies have had their largest businesses/accounts threatened in the past. One was due to the international partner’s displeasure with the local partner while the other was over rumours surrounding the agency’s claim to being affiliated to a certain network, a claim which played a fundamental part in landing a very large account. In the last 13 years or so, three of Nigeria’s most respected agencies have bitten the dust simply because they lost their network partners over a variety of reasons. Grant advertising began the downward climb when it lost the McCan Erickson affiliation and consequently the large accounts attached to it. Promoserve could not survive the loss of Grey affiliation to Insight Communications. It meant the loss of certain key accounts and led to the break-up of the management team of the agency. Meanwhile observers have argued that Promoserve had severe internal problems of it’s own, the loss of its foreign partners contributed to its failure.
Over reliance on network business to the detriment of developing local business is capable of killing an agency. Another fundamental factor to note on this issue is the structure of relationships that sometimes exist between network partners and their local officiates. If the relationship is not a symbiotic one, where the two partners play essential roles, it is dangerous to the local agency that is just growing. Closely related is the need for the foregn partners to expose their local arms to international training and standard, so as to be able to stand alone if there is any reason to stay away.
* Source: Thisday Newspapers