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‘ADVAN is driving advocacy, promoting marketing excellence’

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Immediate Past President of Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), Mr. David Okeme.

The immediate past President of Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), Mr. David Okeme, has reiterated the association’s role in driving advocacy for members, having also been consulted for input into policy, and helping to put together an advertising summit for Nigeria.

“We have set up sharing learning platforms and one for people to showcase their skills, get recognised and awarded. These platforms are introduced to strengthen brands. Internationally, we have taken ADVAN into the World Advertising Federation. So today, there is a permanent slot on the council for ADVAN; it never existed before. In addition, I have been an active member of the Global Council. So, I attend all the meetings and therefore I’m exposed to all the best practice developments around the world, and what I have tried to do is, each time I go out for those sessions and come back, we set up a platform to share and learn.

“The last of such events was the industry dialogue, which was hosted by Nigerian Breweries Plc. All we did was to bring every member of marketing eco-system in Nigeria, from regulators to operators, agencies, all together to look at emerging trends and how this would shape the practice of marketing.”

While reacting to issues of politics during last ADVAN election, he noted, “Being a candidate, I wasn’t aware of any politics. I came into the process with a strong manifesto and strong set of activities, which I believe really helped my emergence as president. But what I did in my two years, which I think has been a force for mobilization of members, is that we were strategic in the kind of activities we implemented and in driving the activities, we ensured that every member organisation felt a part of the activities.”

While recalling the first marketing conference ADVAN held, Okeme stated that a panel was introduced to ensure that every member organisation was adequately represented, adding, “We put in place a system of direct engagement. So, we had each exco member being responsible for relationships across members. We also formed teams that visited our core members periodically. So, I can confirm to you that we were at Airtel, MTN, Nigeria Breweries Plc, Etisalat now 9mobile, Guinness, Unilever, e tc.

“Apart from the post of president, other positions were unopposed, and in the election for the president, I think what you saw was a reflection of the dynamics that were in play within the hall. The Marketing Director of PZ, Bukky Bamidele and Folake Amumini of First Bank contested and Folake won. It is really a history-making AGM because in the history of the organization. She is the first female president.”

While also speaking on foreign agencies like South Africa’s DDB, coming to pitch in Nigeria without the input of the local DDB affiliate agency, he noted, “ADVAN is not a regulatory agency. ADVAN exists to drive advocacy for responsible members to carry out business without any harassment. Secondly we exist to promote marketing excellence. In promoting excellence, we strive to bring in best practice solutions and embed them locally. DDB Nigeria is associated to DDB bank. So, if a DDB organization anywhere in the world decides to come in to make a pitch in Nigeria, I believe through that scheme of agreement, they should be able to pitch. Outdoor Advertisers Association of Nigeria (OAAN), for instance, had written to us to say they had a challenge with Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA). We met with the MD of LASAA for settlement.”

He stressed that ADVAN would not jump into conclusions on the basics speculations. He also spoke on a memorandum that will make business relationship smooth between ADVAN, MPAN and OAAN, adding that though it was not finished yet, but that ADVAN made strong input in the area of data.

On whether it is ideal for a multinational to hire the services of a non-registered advertising practitioner to carry out advertising function for it, Okeme suggested a petition to Advertisers Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), which is the organisation licensed to regulate professional practices in the country.

He, however, said, “If I, the president of ADVAN, subjected myself to a registration process, then I am not sure there is anybody who will operate above the law. By the way, multinationals operate everywhere in the world and I can speak of multinationals in Nigeria; they obey the laws of the land.”
He also reacted to allegations of how about N4 billion unspent funds went down the drain last year, saying that it was just another speculation because “4billion is not N4,000 or N4 million (that could go untraced). So, I can’t speak on it because again, there is no fact.”

Also, while reacting to allegations of conspiracy or collusion within media houses, the media and client service specialists, stated, “I sit on the board of the World Advertising Federation. I know this is a topical issue everywhere in the world. Our last global executive meeting was in New York and they, American Advertising Association hired an ex-attorney general of the U.S. to carry out forensic examination of media buying, media placement or execution, media monitoring, looking at practices within the value chain to establish whether the client was getting value for his spend.

“I sat down and the guy shared his findings transparently. First and foremost, as I said earlier, the correlation was established that organisations that are putting the right level of support to their business and putting the right skills and putting the right tools are getting growth on a sustainable basis. It was also established that when you are investing below threshold again you would struggle to get growth.

“So, this is a principle that is global, that is accepted. It is the same in the U.S.; the same in Nigeria. Did they find practices, which you may call anomalies? Yes; they did. They were questions around the management of discount, where contractors give discounts to the agencies. There was the issue around whether they declare those discounts transparently to the clients. There were issues around even the existence of agency agreements that are really specific to the expectations of both parties.

“Again, how many organisations have a very robust and structured service level agreement? So, to stand here and say that N4 billion is missing is not true. You can’t make such an allegation without facts because I haven’t seen any facts. Secondly, for anybody to tell you the industry is efficient or not efficient, nobody can give you that. You can break it down by sector, by player and you can do your analysis.”



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