Nigeria: Creative Agencies' Search for Game Changers

2 July 2020

With Covid-19 disruptions in the global marketing communications industry, Raheem Akingbolu writes on the need for stakeholders in Nigeria who are set to elect new leaders to push forward-looking professionals who can successfully take advertising business out of the current troubled waters

Two years after running the affairs of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), the Ikechi Odigbo led team will this week take a bow to usher in a new executive body. To this end, the association has fixed today for the election, which according to a source, would be conducted via virtual means in adherence to the current social distancing rule occasioned by the pandemic.

While the preparation continues, concerned players and analysts are preoccupied with issues around the qualities to expect in the incoming executive members because of the precarious situation the industry has suddenly found itself. Before Covid-19, the creative industry was undergoing a transition necessitated by digital revolution, which prompted pleadings from various quarters on the need for practitioners to wear a fresh thinking cap if they are to compete in the digital era.

With Covid-19, which has changed the face of businesses across the world, creative agencies appear to be facing a twin-challenge of new normal and lean budget.

According to THISDAY findings, almost all the companies, local and multinationals are currently reviewing their business relationships with creative agencies, whereas the practitioners too are faced with the task of finding the best way to communicate with consumers, despite the lockdown.

Meanwhile, as a microcosm of the global economy, the industry will also contend with the imminent recession that may likely be a fallout of the current pandemic. In the recent April World Economic Outlook, it was projected that the global growth in 2020 is likely to fall to -3 percent.

Speaking to THISDAY on the development, a former President of AAAN, Kayode Oluwasona, admitted that the industry is undergoing a perilous stage but pointed out that having a good leader will help navigate the challenges ahead.

"I must confess that it has not been this tough but there is hope in the horizon. With our election some days away, I can only recommend that AAAN needs a team that would be led by an innovator and not just a strategist alone. An innovator will be able to galvanise people who are already distressed together make them see a positive future in the industry they so much treasure.

"While doing that, the leader must not be seen to be using the position for personal advantage but for general good. For the incoming president, especially, it's going to be a tough call but with those attributes, I bet it will be a smooth ride. In all, we need a quality leadership team that at the end would write their names in gold," Oluwasona stated.

Toeing the same line of thought, the Publisher of Marketing Edge, a wholly Marketing Communication journal, John Ajayi, though agreed that the industry is indeed at crossroads, he was quick to add that all that AAAN needs is a man full of ideation to weather the storm.

He said: "I don't subscribe to the fact that it will be tough for whoever emerges President because it is during a period like this that one is able to identify a leader that is creative. If AAAN elects someone who is not poor in idea, it will not be long before the industry will bounce back on its feet. Of course, if there is any other quality that should be considered, I think it is the need to elect a bridge-builder who understand the language of the millennials and can as well relate with the old practitioners,"

Beyond the incoming executive members, a Mass Communication teacher and Deputy Provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Dr. Jide Johnson, has called on top players in the industry to be more involved in driving the association and return it to its formal status, when it was the defacto sectoral leader in the industry.

"Two things are important at this period. One, stakeholders should be ready to take up responsibilities because the tempo seems to be waning for AAAN. As a platform that serves as the umbrella body for the creative industry, it is important for all to contribute their quotas and use the association as vehicle for business rejuvenation. Another important thing is the need to elect a core professional who will not toy with ethics and professionalism. At this period, AAAN needs not an industry politician but a serious minded professional as President," he stated.

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