Demola Rauf Adedoyin, Founder/CEO, Abuja based Genity Ltd, former Unilever Communication Channels Strategist and CEO of Integrated Troops speaks with the media on knotty industry issues. Demola as a former Publicity Secretary for the Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria, ADVAN also reflects on industry leadership challenges. Excerpts…
It appears that the industry no longer favours the umbrella approach where clients warehouse all its marketing and advertising need in a single agency, why is this so?
It’s not like ‘it appears that…’ it is now the norm. And it is very important, especially in view of the fast changing and evolving nature of marketing and the marketed in the area of service patronage vis-à-vis habits and attitude. So it has led to a multi-sectorial grouping in the industry, but it does not take away the fact that as a body of practitioners, we should be under a common umbrella. It’s very important to be able to hold things together and keep the different umbrella baskets under one umbrella at the industry level, and not relegated to a weak centre with autonomous component service-level bodies. That was how ADVAN was able to silence the media hype on all ‘ghost media debts’ despite their diversity and competition.
The real reason why single-agency ware-housing is no longer efficient is because target audiences are characterized by behavior and that informs the shared norms in their different communities of categorization. Service consumers no longer place orders for everything in any particular basket of service from the same house (agency), though it’s still happening within groups, it’s because the marketing landscape as defined by these communities I’m talking about have drastically changed as a result of changes in the habit and attitudes, so the music changed and the dance steps changed, because the prevailing habit, attitude the behavior, the shared norms, are points where marketers target to hook their audience with whatever mix to get the job done. It’s the same reason everyone sings about 4, 5 or even 6 new Ps of marketing. That actually depends on where you are standing. This may be something never imagined, but it’s already history. Therefore, in order to ensure that the proliferation of baskets does not become an issue in the area of quality, ethics, standards and control, there is a need for a central gate-keeping, value-adding and negotiation umbrella.
It is simply not possible for the brand promoters to ignore these changes. Think of a very key target community like the youth market that now sees and listen to less and less of TV and Radio respectively, and even conventional outdoor but instead they now spend an average 10 hours a day on mobile and digital baring any discomforting occurrence. They go to bathroom, kitchen, offices / classes, relationships… everywhere with devices during the day and then sleep next to them, so you can still target them in their sleep if you can figure it out. The summary is, it is not about what you have in your basket, but what I need for my job. So baskets will continue to break-up or emerge.
And what happens if the different break-up service providers decide to stand on their own?
Ideally it should not happen. We should have sub-groups who recognized and carried along as members of a broad-based umbrella body. And if you look around, we already have bodies for bulk-SMS, Experiential, Social Media, Nollywood Managers or so, AV Production, numerous writers’ bodies, event managers and so on but that should not negate the strategic role of an Umbrella body, like APCON for government and AAAN for the advertising agencies. Otherwise, standards will continue to fall, businesses will find it difficult to survive, new comers will keep coming and going, brands will not get long-lasting competitive efficiency, effectiveness and even innovations will suffer because all gates will be let loose and with no coordination and control, and the negative cycle continues.
But if we have an effective umbrella, we would not even need to prioritize protectionist stance in a global context in the long run. Instead, we will be capable of fair competition and the industry will take a shape that aligns it with and make it more attractive to big business and government.
Recently, a new leadership came into office at Nigerian Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN), what critical agenda will you expect the new leadership to pursue?
Well I will only be using NIMN as a point of contact here, generally marketing communications industry bodies need to deepen human and financial resources by championing knowledge-seedling and nurturing; and then build the needed critical mass of responsible and responsive membership needed to survive the status quo and sustain momentum.
This has to be done as groups under the same umbrella. That is why what APCON is doing at the policy level is good for the industry in all sub-sectors, be it the old-timers, new-comers or the emerging entrants. I really look forward to it coming out as a 360 degree output that will not be blind to the new realities on ground, because, as it is, the status quo is stale.
As it is NIMN seem to have also woken up to the challenge on ground and moving forward. I hope it will be as fast as the industry expects or needs. To me, the carriage so far of the leadership does not resemble that of the old past, not peculiar to the NIMN where leaders emerge and carry-on like such positions are rewards for long meritorious practice, meaning ‘it’s our time on the throne’. In that case the focus may not be on setting and attaining industry benefiting goals within a set time-frame as a portfolio, but more as a ceremonious position to perform routine duties and ceremonies.
So you are sure the present leadership will deliver?
That’s not the point. But I’m sure we should be able to talk about that in another year. For now, going by initial initiatives and body language, I think we should expect something positive. This is very important for every group and I say so because if we get this right across industry, we will be able to build enduring institutions. You remember long time ago back when WPP bought over Saatchi & Saatchi, and Charles and Maurice later left to set-up another agency (M&C Saatchi). It didn’t matter that they had let left their seats at the former agency because they had succeeded in building an enduring institutional culture of practice. That is because the industry promoted knowledge deepening and there were controls. There, Membership of such bodies also tends to add value to members and vice versa with the ultimate value-adding to the businesses and governance.
As a registered Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising Practitioner, can you expatiate on the new offerings in these baskets and the umbrella body?
First, you are a registered practitioner with APCON which in this case is the umbrella body. Then you also belong to other sub-groups depending on your area of specialized skill or enterprise. ‘’Advertising’’ as was captured in the act establishing APCON just like the word ‘’Broadcasting’’ in NBC has since transformed and no longer descriptive of the scope of their titles. With Advertising I’m referring to the fact that what we used to call new media, social media, online digital, Nollywood branding, experiential and so on have now grown tremendously, they have successfully challenged the status quo. In the past, one will easily say, no, they are not measurable this and that, but a lot has since changed in that direction, so much so that they compete favourably with the traditional channels. Nollywood, though still far less exploited, now stand as a major block of platforms for branding leverage.
The areas I have a major concern is with audience recruitment for online, mobile and digital. Also important to me, is the optimal exploitation in the case of Nollywood. In tackling these issues, too much have been left for individual businesses to handle and that complicates life, for instance who leads the project for setting a standard Rate Cards or Value-Adding benchmarks for Nollywood to throw the market open a lot more for commercial exploitation? Let’s look at one-way bulk-SMS that always enjoy high rating on impact measurement for instance. You live in Kano, and a fast food outlet in Calabar sends you several unsolicited SMS to patronize their outlet opening the next Saturday? Fine, such campaigns must accommodate rolling stones, even at the point of data recruitment, except it’s a customized relationship marketing programme, it should be minimal. Not a case where so many of your neighbours also get the same short message.
You talk about media debt, are you saying it no longer exist?
The scandalous media debt that was often used to blackmail ADVAN members has been tackled and rested. That is why I am differentiating it with the word ghost, because you can’t remove huge debt from huge transactions. What is important is that each party complies with transaction agreements. In the case of the ghost media debt the blame was more on the side of the media owners. I say this because ADVAN simply came together and agreed that all claims be put on the table within a given time period and was even later extended. What came up were cases of poor book-keeping and management direct involvement in payment receipt. It was the same or similar stories across board… and we have not heard loud noises about it again. For an example, while I was heading a Communication Channels unit of a multi-national business then and was also on the exco of ADVAN, in one case, a TV Network submitted a claim of more than N200 million. Initial check by the channel accountant brought it down to less than N50 million and by the time financial controller got involved it was less than N20 million and that was far within our credit limit threshold, and way behind the agreed negotiation deal. We even got a claim from a station on ’Village Headmaster’ TV Series that was aired when I was still a baby. Of course, I agree timeous payment is very important and a lot still has to be done to get Finance to think like entrepreneurs. And please note that I am also not referring to such debts like the UPN, SDP, NRC, PDP, AD etc politicians’ debt. That is a different story entirely.
So what will be your recommendation on moving the industry forward?
Industry bodies must strive to build the needed critical mass of responsible members and provide quality responsive leadership that holds things together for strength and control. We need to be more ruthless about brilliant executions, share learning and celebrate more. We need to fight more against our cultural limitations in many perspectives.
Let me give you an illustration, I used in the past with a media rep on non-compliance in a response plan for a competitive market entry, let’s say my company is a country at war with an evading army and I give you bombs to drop at specific location not far from the border at a specific time, but you forgot and dropped it hours later. You have wasted my money and sabotaged my campaign. Because research like military intelligence has told us the best way to behave and we have invested monies to create materials needed to deploy and contracted you to help deploy, but you let the enemy in with ease and so on and you think it’s not an issue? I should be happy to receive rice and oil at the end of the year…
We also need to realize that the industry needs individual businesses to survive; businesses need to survive by being competitive. So we should push for competitive survival objectives and initiatives.
And very importantly we all need to take home the fact that if the customer is a king, the creative content channeling is the throne which kings continue to desire to sit.