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Creativity: AAAN moves to improve skills, ends LAIF

Princewill Ekwujuru
It is no news in the advertising world that no Nigerian agency has ever won a major international award for creativity, either the Cannes, CLIO, ADAGE etc and other awards, (but not region awards in other countries of the world)  have continuously eluded Nigerian agencies. Even though among the creative industries, advertising is unique in the country in this respect. For this reason, ad practitioners in Nigeria instituted the Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival (LAIF) to recognise creativity, which has just ended with rewards to creative agencies.

Many questions may arise as to if the attitude of the client is responsible to explain this.? Or whether business ownership structure is sufficient to account for it.? Or is government in-adequacy in terms of providing enabling environment accountable.? How can this unfortunate situation be rectified.? What can be done to ensure that our Creative Directors, our Visualizers and Copywriters are truly creative in an international sense and can compete with the best in the world on a regular basis.? As well, win Nigerian and international clients, and as such leave shooting commercials abroad.

These are challenges that the 2009 LAIF Creative awards Seminar and Exhibition tends to address, as well, enlighten and equip advertising  professionals to meet the changing needs of the client in today’s competitive business environment; In a paper titled; Stuff Creativity: I just want to sell, with discussants as; Mr. Kola Oyeyemi, General Manager, MTN Nigeria and Mr. Lolu Akinwumi, Group Chief Executive Officer Prima Garnet Ogilvy.

The Seminar which objective is to connect advertisers, agencies and the service providers, also parades the newest creative technology in town was geared towards making sure there is an  improvement in local content of the marketing communication materials.

Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), organisers of the seminar said that the forum aims to create opportunity to build/ improve agency customer base, as well create an avenue for regular exchange of new ideas.
The association went further to say that the seminar aims to quicken local advertising industry pace, attract investment to the marketing communication industry and align with global practices.

Akinwumi, in his paper stated that the effect of the meltdown which predates 2007 affected all aspects of the economy, with the manufacturing sector being worst hit with less than 40 percent capacity utilisation, coupled with the weak Naira which has reduced the purchasing power of consumers.

He noted that cheaper import from especially Asia, and very high production as a result of high cost of raw materials; cost of   infrastructure: power, transportation, security etc, relocation and the recent financial crisis rocking the banking sector all these and more have contributed to the current economic situation of clients.

What has been the average client response to these? he queried, saying that since the advertising industry depends on the sector, whilst manufacturing has nearly given up; that the few active ones run essentially promotions, even though the financial services also run virtually on promos: the bandwagon effect: every bank is doing it because one bank has set the pace.

He noted that the Telecommunications industry  appears to be more effective, combining tactical, promos and regular
advertising. In all, he stated that  mood characterized by some panic, uncertainty and a serious lack of strategic approach  towards finding longer-lasting solutions like government, most organisations are simply hoping that the challenges will go away one day.

How the average agency has responded to these challenges, he noted that agencies have grossly been affected by the economic situation, with 2008 and 2009 revealing severe economic implications, while advertising billings and revenues follow the downward trend.

He pointed out that the lucky agencies are the ones to the telecomm and some banks, and those with corollary  investments like outdoor, production etc.He explained that where an agency  manages  traditional medicine accounts, “you probably are doing well too.”

Stressing  that the focus is just to surviveAkinwumi observed that other effects are that agencies are more client dependent and are too happy to accept almost any brief. He went further to state that most agencies have spent the last few months working on just tactical and promo briefs.

He noted that the overall effect are some of the least inspiring ads in a long time, especially in print and on television, but stressed clients are taking advantage of this to negotiate harder discounts, while he hoped  that the industry should so zon  recover by the end of the first quarter of 2010.  Akinwumi sought  to know whether clients have  been right in their responses.

Akinwumi wanted to know if the client is to blame; No! he said, stating , “it’s a very tough period for them, and its this mindset that makes many of them say, “stuff the creativity; I just want to sell.”

Continuing, he averred, “the budgets are leaner in real terms because of the diminished value of the Naira; Managing  Directors and Marketing Managers are looking at lower entry costs into the market and very quick results. The quest for quick results sacrifices a key element which often requires some incubation time: Creativity . What we have are safe communications, and they are often easier to  ignore.”

He observed that  point should  be strongly made that for long term gain with branding and loyalty considerations, creativity is required.

Quoting David Ogilvy he said, “I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an  art form, but as a medium of  information. So when I write an advertisement I don’t want you to just tell me you find it  creative; I want you to also find it so interesting that you buy the product.”


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