Building Local Brands Through Global Affiliations: The CMC Connect Example
ORGANISATIONS everywhere around the world place premium on the competitive advantage that well-executed public relations and integrated marketing communications programmes can deliver. Clients expect their agencies to render service that is effective and efficient at both regional and local level and which can be globally integrated across cultural and geographical boundaries. Clients also seek innovative communication solutions to help them address challenges and seize opportunities wherever they exist.
For some time now, this realisation has dawned on the Nigerian integrated marketing communications industry, which has seen an unending desire by a number of firms in the industry to tap into the wealth of benefits and opportunities inherent in affiliating with global brands in a bid to offer their clients inestimable service.
Like in other bubbling sectors of the Integrated Marketing Communications, such as advertising and marketing, some public relations firms in the country are either subsidiaries or business affiliates of reputable global brands. Interestingly, by these affiliations each party brings its distinctive strength into the deal.
It is against this background that March 14, 2015, will remain a landmark in the history of the nation’s public relations practice with the commemoration of the unveiling of the Affiliation and Brand Identity of Lagos-based Public Relations outfit, CMC Connect and Burson Marsteller.
Held at CMC Connect office at G.R.A Ikeja, Lagos, the event, which had in attendance the crème de la crème of the integrated marketing communications industry, saw the firm join the long tradition of affiliations in the nation’s IMC landscape. Burson Marsteller is a part of Young and Rubicam Brands, a subsidiary of WPP, the world’s leading communications services network. Among the range of services provided by Burson Marsteller is counsel and programme development across the spectrum of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, digital strategy, advertising and other communications services. Its list of clientele includes global companies, industry associations, professional service firms, governments and other large organisations. Burson-Marsteller Africa boasts a network that covers 53 of the 55 countries on the continent. Its brand is also entrusted to partners in 26 other markets across Africa.
On ground to represent Burson-Marsteller at the affiliation ceremony was the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Burson-Marsteller, Africa, Mrs. Robyn de Villiers.
While the tradition of affiliation of local firms with global brand may not be a new phenomenon, industry watchers will be keen to see what Burson-Marsteller is bringing on board and what CMC Connect stands to gain from it.
Villiers, who represents Africa on the Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa Leadership Team, gave a hint on this at the launch of the affiliation. According to her “our relationship with CMC Connect goes back eight years now, and it is precisely because we have established a strong partnership that we are in a position to entrust the local team with the Burson-Marsteller global brand. We know that the CMC Connect Burson-Marsteller team are the right custodians for what we at Burson-Marsteller hold so dear.”
She noted further that the move was “a step closer we are taking to give CMC Connect a partnership relationship which allows them to have a Burson-Marsteller brand because the brand is a global brand. They should be looking at strong international positioning through our international network which is in all six continents with thousands of employees who can do the work. Burson-Marsteller brings global strength, while CMC Connect brings local strength, and that is the important combination that clients are looking for.”
Villiers recounted how two separate experiences she had with her former firm, Arcay Communications, while working on two projects in Africa at different times in the past served as an eye-opener to her on the peculiarity of the execution of public relations projects in different countries in Africa. The lesson, which she said is that every country in Africa works differently from a communication point of view, underlines her firm belief in local connectivity and insight and local implementation of a public relations work.
Also, her long working experience in Africa made her see the necessity of “creating a pan-African PR network that could service other clients,” thereby laying the foundation for a Burson-Marsteller Africa; and CMC Connect being the latest entrant into the global PR network.
In what is seen by stakeholders in the industry as a win-win relationship, the partnership is expected to afford clients of Burson-Marsteller local affiliates, including CMC Connect, the unique benefit of combining global expertise and local connectivity and insight that are important to their business success.
The launch was not without pomp and pageantry. The host, CMC Connect, treated guests to a night of varieties of Nigerian, nay African, creativity woven round the concept of ‘Orisirisi,’ meaning diverse or assorted things.
Public relations guru and Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director, of CMC Connect, Mr Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, offered an explanation for the choice of the theme for the occasion. He explained: “We themed the event ‘Orisisiri’ to reflect our creative diversity because that is our strength. Orisirisi also means to us a different way of doing things. We like to depart from the norm and do things differently whenever we can. ‘Orisirisi’ captures and reflects that ethos and also the fact that our creativity stems from different things and that we are influenced by ‘Orisirisi.’”
With the CMC Connect-Burson Marsteller deal sealed, it is hoped that it will be an enduring relationship and that it will not go the way of known failed affiliations witnessed in recent times in the market.
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