By KASIE ABONE
NIGERIA’S advertising business has witnessed tremendous growth especially in recent times. Seen from the view point of agency billings and proliferation of advertising agencies and media houses, both state and private print and broadcast, the industry is indeed experiencing the best of times.
While major players in the industry have hit the billions of naira billings mark the collective billing for the industry is expected to hit the N50 billion target by the end of the year. Specifically Insight-Grey, centrespread FCB, Rosabel Leo Burnett, SO &U Saatchi and Saatchi, DDB Lagos, Lowe Hintas, Prima Garnet Ogilvy and STB McCann are among the big players in the industry that have crossed the billion naira mark. Others are working hard to reach there in no time.
The growth in the industry in recent years could be attributed to the recapitalization exercise by banks, a directive of the apex bank, Central Bank of Nigeria and liberalization of the telecommunication industry which broke NITEL’s monopoly thereby attracting private investments in the industry. The two key economic development engendered tremendous marketing communication activities with agencies raking in millions of naira worth advert billings.
Though the business is witnessing colossal growth, the industry, like most business sectors of the economy, had its humble beginning rooted in colonial history, advertising developmnt could be traced to abou 1928 with the birth of West African Publicity Limited. An off shoot of UAC, the company was set up to catter for the marketing activities of the colonial masters in both Nigeria and West Africa. This compny was later to transform to a full fledged advertising firm in 1929 known as Lintas with two other subsidaries newly Afromedia, the outdoor medium and Pearl/Dean, the cinema arm. With the setting up of the companies then headed by expertriates, the companies were to enjoy a monopoly for a long time to come it was not until 1950’s when other advertising agencies started to emerge on the scene. Ogilvy, Benson and Martha (OBM) and Grant were later to join the fray to form the big three in the industry.
The medium of advertising was in its infancy in those days Federal Government owned National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) where he only television stations that operated in the four regions of East, West, North and later midwest. These regions later set up their private stations pionered by the West, at Ibadan, prior to independence. In 1960 and 1962 respectively, Enugu and Kaduna followed suit. And with the creation of more regions by the General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) administration and creation of more states by both Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Ibrahim Babangida regimes, more state government-owned television and radio stations were established.
Daily Times, Express, Tribune, New Nigeria and Sketch were among the fore-runners in newspaper publishing. Some state governments also published newspapers that addressed their local audience. Two major magazines- Drum and Spear from Daily Tims stable were also at the time published.
Btween the early 1960’s and 1970, there was no spectacular development in the industry. But the promulgation of Nigeria Enterprises as promotion Decree of 1972 popularly known as Indegenization policy urshed in a new phase in the industry. The policy transformed key positions in corporate organisations to indegenes. Mr Silvester, Muoemeka was by the dictates of the policy to emerge the first indegeneous chief executive of Lintas. Lintas further empowered more Nigerians to take up the business of advertising some of whom had to leave broadcasting to embrace the new thinking.
By the later 1970’s however, two ambitious agencies, Rosabel Advertising and Insight Communication, sprang up. The coming of the two agencies which till today are still doing very well, no doubt, was a watershed in the industry of advertising in Nigeria as the agencies brought new ideas into the industry while taking creativity to a higher. Before the turn of the decade, 23 agencies had been formed.
With the steady growth in the number of practitioners and agencies arose the need for associations to be formed to advance their common interests and a regulatory body to that would regulate and standardize advertising practice. A meeting of the agencies held at Ebute Metta, Lagos in 1971 was to metamorphose into Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (AAPN) with the objective of protecting practitioners against unfavourable business. The association was later renamed Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria. As the industry continued to grow in volume of business and complexity, more and more people were attracted to the industry. The need to establish an institution to regulate advertising practice became apparent. This gave rise to the establishment of Advertising Parishioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) by Decree 55 of 1988, later renamed Act 55 of 1988 by the civilian administration on November 1989, the first meeting of the association held somewhere in Ebute-meta, Lagos finally culminated to the birth of APCON.
APCON started operation in 1990 with the employment of the pioneer registrar in the person of Dr Charles Okigbo.The era of economic restructuring and liberalization opened up the Nigerian business to global economy. Foreign investments started flowing into the economy the expatriates who once left the shores of the land due to the indigenization policy gradually returned. And with them, the boom in economy. Aside, privatization of mass communication medium in the 1990’s also witnessed the setting up of private owned media houses which are platforms for advertisement placements.
"But in the 1990’s the sector came alive. Not only that alarming and ambitions agencies such as Prima Garnet, Sotu and Casesrs sprang up, the sector began to expand beyond advertising as full services public relation firms such as the Quadrant JSP and Quest were established. Also the era witnessed the mad rush of foreign affiliations. While some agencies sought this affiliation to help boost their human capital, others just joined the bandwagon just to feel among."
As the business expanded, related services providers joined the fray to cash in on the boom. Not long after they formed themselves into association to also further heir cause and protect their interest. Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN) emerged. Not long the industry became an all corners affairs. Competition became very stiff and practitioners started adopting unwholesome means to undercut one another. Industry debt became a major issue to the extent that it attracted the attention of past federal government who encouraged the practitioners to find a way of resolving the perennial problem. Just as competition continued to get stiff, agencies did not rest on their oars as they embarked on training of their staff who will be able to meet the challenge of modern day advertising.
As creativity took centre stage, the industry witnessed a lot of innovation and creative ideas. The foreigners who started coming back brought with them standard and professional which changed the advertising landscape.Restructuring, training and brand building and creativity have taken centre stage.
Today, Nigerian advertising industry, is making efforts to ensure that they measured up to global industry practice. Affiliations also avails them of technical knowhow in the areas of creativity and training.
From deploying foreign adverts, the industry has grown to shooting their adverts locally and injecting a lot of local content in their campaigns. Consumers can now better connect with advertisements that run on their local media.
To ensure continuous improvement in creative standards, AAAN setup an annual creative awards, festival Lagos Advertising and Ideas Award (LAIF). A brainchild of the immediate past executive led by DDB Lagos Managing Director and Chief Executive, Mr Enyi Odigbo, the festival sets out to encourage the members of the association to continue to develop their creative ideas and improve creative standards in order to retain clients confidence. The second edition of the festival comes up on October, 2007. Aside local advertising festival, stakeholders are venturing outside the shores of the land to participate in international advertising festivals. Last year and this year, a number of Nigerian agencies participated in the annual Cannes Lions Advertising Festival holding in Cannes, Frances. Though they are unable to win awards, there is no gainsaying that they have gained a lot of knowledge through exposure to award winning creative and through networking.
Away from creative awards the regulatory body of advertising, APCON, is living up to expectations by the measures put in place to sanitize the industry. Of note is professionalizing the practice to ensure that qacks are reduced if not flushed out completely. Again measures are adopted to ensure practitioners operate within set advertising standards. Chairman of APCON, Mr Chris Dogwudje has said one of his cardinal objectives is to fight quackery in the industry. One major step taken towards achieving this objective was the recent notice to all agencies to settle the arrears of their practice fees by the end of last month. The council will any moment from now publish list of registered practitioners. In recognition of the role APCON plays in the industry other sectional associations sought for seats and today al stakeholders including broadcasting organisation of Nigeria (BON), Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), Newspapers proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN), the stakeholders are working together to ensure that the standard of practice in the country compares with global practice. In addition, the bodies are collaborating to ensure peaceful coexistence among them.
A key area where the stakeholders have agree to collaborate was in tackling the persistent industry debt. Over the years debt burden had threatened to tear apart the stakeholders. Recently the group took a bold step to resolve the issue.
A 13-member committee was recently appointed by APCON to seek an enduring solution to the problem that threatened to destroy the industry. Another major achievement in this area was the landmark signing or a communique by the heads of all sectorial groups to bring the debt issue to an end. Prior to this period, it had been an arduous task to get them to agree. But with this major break through, brighter days await the industry in future.
From a humble 23 membership strength in early 1970’s to its present 93 strong membership, from three big agencies to about ten presently and from a cumulative advert billings of about N20 million to projected estimate of N50 billion by the end of the year, the industry has recovered a colossal growth, in the volume of businesses, number of practitioners and in improving standards. Worth of note is the role the industry plays in job creation and branding Nigeria project. As more foreign direct investments come into the country, it is expected that in the years ahead the industry would continue to experience quantum leap.
Sourced from Daily Champion Monday, December 10, 2007