This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: 2013 - Marketing Industry to Leverage On Other Sectors

With the early passage of 2013 budget and the calm business atmosphere, there are strong indications that the New Year will offer a lot of opportunities for Marketing Communications practitioners.

An Early Budget

Compared to last year when uncertainty beclouded the Nigerian business climate as a result of the removal of subsidy on oil, which resulted in partial collapse of activities, crossing over into 2013 was easy on both political and economic fronts.

While the Senate was passing the 2013 Appropriation Bill of N4.99 trillion into law, its Deputy President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary session, didn't only commend the National Assembly for passing the 2013 budget before the end of the year, he said it would challenge the executive to ensure that there was proper implementation of the budget starting from the first day of January 2013.

In the estimates titled, 'budget of fiscal consolidation with inclusive growth', education, defence and Police were allocated the highest shares of N1.095 trillion. A breakdown of that sum showed the education sector as getting N426.53 billion; defence, N348.91 billion, and Police, N319.65 billion.

However, missing from the budget was a provision for fuel subsidy, an indication perhaps that government may fully remove the subsidy this year.

The N4.92 trillion proposed for 2013 is five per cent more than the N4.7 trillion budgeted in 2012. The 2013 proposals also have the health sector getting N279.23 billion as allocation; works, N183.5 billion; agriculture and rural development, N81.41 billion; and power, N74.26 billion.

Dependent Industry

All over the world, marketing communication industry thrives on the success and budget surplus of other sectors, both in the public and private sectors. At various times in the Nigerian market, the success of the manufacturing, banking and recently the tele-communications sector, have dictated the trend of spending in the marketing industry.

Prior to consolidation in the financial sector; the industry depended more on patronage from the banking and manufacturing industry. As a result of the need for branding and showcasing of their strongest selling points during consolidation, banking came to the front burner. But sooner than expected, the post consolidation tsunami was undertaken by the Sanusi Lamido Sanusi-led Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), thereby leading to a tight budget on Advertising spending, which forced the operators to return to their shells.

As the biggest player in any economy, the Federal Government must have learnt some lessons from last year's flaw in its handling of the sensitisation exercise that heralded the removal of oil subsidy, and sees the need to patronise registered marketing communication practitioners in handling government advertising and public relations briefs, henceforth. If they (the professionals) are recognised and patronised in 2013, observers believe that plum briefs are awaiting them from all public institutions.

Since the budget will rub off on all sectors, the Executive Director of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Mr. Lekan Fadolapo, believes its early passage would make both local and foreign advertisers able to have grip on the economy in the first quarter.

He said; "The readiness of the budget before the new year is a positive signal that 2013 would usher in a lot of business opportunities for marketing communication practitioners and provide numerous economic activities. This is unlike before, when some companies will not understand the economic outlook, which would guide them on their own budget throughout the first quarter that will not arise this year because both the Executive and Legislative arms of government have set a good foundation with the budget".

Aside the fact that the peaceful business climate will foster good relationship between Nigeria and foreign investors, that would need the service of marketing communication practitioners for getting their goods and services entrenched in the market, existing multinationals that were leaving in fear in 2012 as a result of chaotic atmosphere in some part of the country, will be more at home this year considering the huge amount voted for security.

Looking back at what he considered the greatest challenge of the industry in 2012, the Chief Executive Officer of Fuel Communications, Mr. Tunji Abioye, had pointed out that Nigeria's advertising industry's biggest challenge in 2012 was tied largely to the scary level of insecurity in the North, which he claimed impacted negatively on the commercial activism of not only in that zone but across the country.

Professionalism

With the various steps being taken by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria on Reform and professionalism, the Chief Executive Officer of X3M Ideas, an upcoming ad agency, Mr. Steve Babaeko, foresees a year of sanity and professionalism.

According to him, "The creative industry is advancing everyday globally and Nigeria is sure not lagging behind. We are not there yet but if one considers the seriousness of APCON and its sectoral bodies towards promoting ethical value and professional competence, it is obvious we are moving on the right track. Again, we are advancing in our creative ingenuity everyday and I'm sure we will move hire in 2013 because many creative works showcased by practitioners at the 2012 Laif Awards pointed to the growth in the industry".

Fadolapo is also of the opinion that the redefinition of the advertising business in 2012 by APCON would bring sanity to the industry.

"2013 will reduce default in the industry because of the corporate license requirement, which I know would checkmate agencies that have become incurable debtors. It will enhance best ethical practice and promote mutual respects among sectoral groups. For instance, the Newspaper Proprietors' Association of Nigeria will be able to trust AAAN members because of the values they are bringing into 2013, which is against unnecessary withholding of payment."

Fadolapo's position is also shared by Abioye, who said, "Our industry's advancement is tied both to the growth in the larger Nigerian economy as well as a return to professionalism by players in the advertising industry. The latter I hope ACCAPA reform being championed by APCON will help the former only by a sense of seriousness by the government (the biggest player in the Nigerian economy)."

It is not however advertising alone that would witness reformation in 2013. President of Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PRCAN), Mr. Chido Nwakanma, has assured members of the public that his members would bring better things to the table in 2013.

In a statement, he said "NIPR is tightening its focus on professionalism and its professional accreditation programmes. NIPR and its corporate sectoral arm PRCAN intend to work together to achieve this."

African Nations Cup and Other Factors

As the year of African Nation Cup (AFCON) in South Africa approaches, brand owners are likely to key into the international competition to showcase their brands. Guinness Nigeria Plc had taken a bold step in this regard, when, towards the end of last year, it rolled out series of consumer-led activities to rally the support of millions of Nigerians for the Super Eagles ahead 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

Speaking at the ceremony to begin the campaign tagged 'Fly with the Eagles', the Managing Director of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Mr. Seni Adetu, said he was proud of his firm's association with the Super Eagles over the years and excited that Guinness is at the centre of galvanising support from millions of Nigerian fans.

He said; "Guinness Nigeria is keeping faith with the Super Eagles as we have always done because we believe the team is not just made up of the eleven players on the pitch but also includes the 170 million people cheering their team on. As a company and a football-loving brand, we are convinced that we have what it takes to succeed at this year's outing."

Already, the campaign has led to the conceptualisation of series of creative works. It has also helped the brand to consolidate on its relationship with patrons in the market.

Despite what the year has in stock, the Lead Consultant/CEO, Leap Communication, Muyiwa Akintunde, expressed fear that the budget has been increasingly shrinking over the years, and might put practitioners on the defensive. According to him, "The time demands for creative ways of building brands' objectives within limited resources."

Until recently, telecoms and banking brands were very successful with innovation and creativity but things turned sour for the financial sector, as a result of the CBN's action. Manufacturing is beginning to make an inroad into the creative world of marketing and doing business after a long lull.

On what would pose the biggest challenge to brands in 2013, the Brand Manager, Campari, Victor Ikem, stated that the global financial recovery would affect marketing investments for most global brands, adding that local brands would decide how much to invest in marketing.

He said government budget for the fiscal year may not have been very helpful in terms of defining what investment government is going to be funding as well as what policy issues will determine governments spending, which he thought would affect the volume of cash going into building brand.

Digital Advertising

In the last five years, the growth of digital marketing has remained on the increase; a situation which has made many people feel that it would soon begin to pose serious threat to traditional media.

It is believed that digital marketing and advertising are already big enough to make traditional marketing and advertising becoming a niche in the economy, with most in the advertising industry concurring that a good campaign would be incomplete if it lacks Internet presence.

The emerging media such as the Internet, online videos and connected devices, namely smart phones and tablets, leveraged the delivery of marketing messages to consumer, thus resulting into an expanded number of touch points.

With the rate of growth Nigeria is recording daily in digital and internet services, 2013 may be full blown year for its penetration. According to recent findings, Malaysia's digital spending for instance is projected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 31 per cent between 2008 and 2013.

The ad spend monitored by Mobile Entertainment Forum (a global trade association of the mobile industry) for the year 2008 was $3.04 million and it is targeted to rise to $20.5 million in 2013. The report indicated that many advertisers who were initially sceptical to what digital marketing and advertising could do are turning into adopters.

"No media agency or corporate marketers can survive their plans without digital marketing and advertising for one simple and absolute reason, this is the trend and that will be the future" it was stated.

Digital outdoor advertising is also believed to offer advertisers a targeted way of reaching consumers because of its ability to extend the TV's reach and serve as the middle media that drives people to browse, visit a website, or download an app.

Worldwide digital advertising is projected to have a growth rate of 15 per cent from 2011 to 2016, making it the third fastest growing media for the next decade to come. Digital advertising revenues are also expected to double from $2.6 billion to $5.2 billion in the next few years.

With this background, the year 2013 is expected to build the bridge to the future of Nigerian marketing communications industry through digital media convergence.

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