Panache, class and sophistication were brought to bear into the packaging of the 2012 edition of Lagos advertising and ideas festival (Aaif) awards held recently in Lagos. Laif, a creation of association of advertising agencies of Nigeria (Aaan) promotes, rewards and celebrates the best of advertising creativity in nigeria every year. Kasie Abone, who attended the event, writes
The exotic ambience of the venue, Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos combined with the unique branding of the arena with a touch of tangerine not only amplified the business of the day (celebration of creativity), but also the signature of the festivals theme: "The Best of LAIF."
Truly, the event was the best in many respects; impressive turnout by agencies staff and their clients, every participants adorned a touch of tangerine to add colour and excitement to the evening; even the invitation card and the table settings had a touch of tangerine; all of which added to give the well packaged event a welcome appeal.
However, what the evening had in abundance in terms of packaging it lacked in terms of delivery of the gold medals. It seemed that the gold medals grew wings and took a flight even before the award night, as the gold medal became indeed a scarce commodity. Despite the general poor outing by most participating agencies, Insight Communication shone brilliantly like the star agency it is topping the medal table with a total of 25 medals.
A breakdown of the table showed Insight came tops with four gold, 10 Silver and 11 Bronze to beat other contending agencies. Other agencies that won medals at the festival, as shown in the table below, include Rosabel three Gold, a Bronze; followed by Centrespread -two Gold, one Silver, one Bronze; DDB - one Gold, 10 Silver, 13 Bronze; 141 - one Gold, three Silver, three Bronze; and LTC-JWT - four Silver, two Bronze. Fuel Communications, a young agency also registered its name on the medal table with one silver.
But for a few other agencies, the rest seemed mere spectators. Looking at the awards medal table and a comparative breakdown of the campaign materials that clinched awards, it was clear that Insight created truly innovative brand communications for its various clients.
Some of the agency's clients that shone that night include: Nigerian Breweries (Heineken, Gulder, Legend), PepsiCo/SUBCo (Pepsi), Cadbury (Bournvita), MTN (Youth Segment) and Flour Mills (Golden Penny Noodles). That the agency makes impressive mark did not come as a surprise. It will be recalled that Insight withdrew from 2011 festival. The management had hinged the move, which jolted the industry then on repositioning of its activities for greater market leadership after 30 years of operations in the advertising industry. The result attested to an agency repositioned for greater effectiveness in future business.
The agency had earlier clinched the 'Creative Agency of the Year' award at the Marketing Edge Magazine 2012 Awards; and in August, won the 'Telecom Marketing Company of the Year' on the strength of its work on the MTN Youth Segment business, at the 8th Edition of the Nigerian Telecom Awards held in Lagos.
Stakeholders have been reacting to the outcome of the awards. Some say the award was a reflection of the downturn in business, while others are of the believe that gold drought signals a bad omen and a drop in the level of creativity in the industry.
But at Insight, it was a period of backslapping, chest beating and celebration. In his reaction, the Managing Director of the agency, Mr. Jimi Awosika said: "From day one, Insight has been a company that frees the mind and frees creativity. This has always been a part of us; that is, the concept of fame and fortune is extricable liked to all that we do. The most successful brands attract talkability, facilitated by distinctive product performance and communications that is grounded in unique consumer insights."
Also commenting, Senior Creative Group Head, Gbenga Boglo, shared his perspective on Insight's history of being the most awarded agency in sub-Saharan Africa. According to him "We have a philosophy that drives through our internal systems and processes - top quality creative solutions. We do not benchmark our performance on our proximate environment alone, but also, international standards. Our clients are key factor in our success. It takes bold clients to back "new, and sometimes, adventurous thinking."
Insight's Account Planning Director emphasised this thinking, when he said: "We are driven by our relentless commitment to raising the benchmark in the industry. As the leading agency in this market, we are quite clear of our responsibility to shape and lead the agenda for the industry. What you have observed in terms of our continued visibility is a consequence of that drive internally. And we are still evolving that agenda, just watch the headlines."
One major reoccurring decimal at LAIF is the glaring apathy shown by advertisers. Of about 100 registered members only twenty entered for the awards festival. More worrisome is the fact that similar scenario presented itself at the last year edition of the festival. Another incident that repeated itself though in a grander form was the dominance of the medal table by the big agencies.
Some of the questions agitating the minds of observers were why the young agencies are not winning awards? What hope for them at LAIF? Though opinion is divided but one major reason adduced for their abysmal outing at most LAIF festival was the number of accounts in their kitty and their advert budgets. Some pundits are of the view that their inability to make the medals table had little to do with creativity.
According to observers, the young agencies are peopled with young talents bursting with great ideas. The fact that they are not winning has no direct bearing to their being less creative than the older agencies. They argue that the few clients' accounts that have huge budget for advertising spend like the telecom, brewery and banks, are domiciled with the big agencies. Again they question: "How many accounts do they (the young agencies) even have? Do you know how many entries these big agencies submit and do you know how much each of the entries cost? How many of the young agencies can afford that?
If these reasons are anything to go by as indeed they are, it is safe to assume that Insight will continue to rewrite marketing communications standards in Nigeria, as it has successfully done over three decades since inception in 1980.
By achieving so many firsts with magnificent results for its clients, their brands and businesses, the challenge today is really not in being the biggest and the fastest growing marketing communications company in black Africa but to compete on the global stage with other global agencies with first class marketing communications solutions for international brands and businesses.
As the curtain drew to a close signaling the end of yet another creative year, it is hoped that the admen should up their game, especially with the onslaught of foreign firms who are opening shops in the country. With huge capital, creative know-how and technology at their reach, it won't be long before most local agencies are overran if they don't do something about this abysmal outing.