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Advertising industry loses without APCON, says Prima Garnet CEO

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Prima Garnet CEO and brand experts, Yetunde Adesina

The marketing communications industry is now in a season of convergence. Functions of other sectors of the economy are mixing up with its, increasingly blurring, if not blotting out the borderlines completely.

It also means that only a professional with incredible ability to multitask and still recognise unique similarities and differences of the converging industries could hold and sustain the fortunes of the sector.

While such professionals are not in short supply in the marketing communications sector, one of the respectable brand experts, Yetunde Adesina, stands tall in the crowd.

A consummate brand strategist, Adesina loves to nurture people and brands. She relishes art for relevance and is passionate about a world where peace and love reigns. Apparently, that is why she has successfully built numerous brands in her 28 years’ experience in the industry.

She has worked with several local and international clients including Coca-Cola, Unilever, GSK, Multichoice, First Bank, Central Bank, Airtel, Nigerian Breweries PLC, Samsung, Johns Hopkins/NURHI.

She has also worked with Insight Communications Limited, General Oil Limited, LTC/JWT, and Vigeo before berthing at Prima Garnet in November 2003.

Having been appointed CEO of Prima Garnet recently, Adesina said her position in the company and height in the industry, come to her with a mixed feeling. “I feel great because it’s a major milestone for me, I have been humbled since the company made me it’s choice. A few other options could have been available both within and outside the company, but making the cut for a business like Prima Garnet is something that is fulfilling and challenging as well. Sometimes I try to imagine how I will be able to adjust to the feeling of being the CEO here and stepping into the shoes of an industry icon like Lolu Akinwunmi.

“It is something that sometimes scares me, as I doubt I can really step into his shoes. They are too big for me. Walking in my own shoes will be more comfortable and that is why I think I will just take my baby steps one day at a time” she added.

However, she appears to understand perfectly that change is the only permanent thing in life and especially in the industry. She also expressed so, in a holistic look at the industry.
 
Industry dynamism
Her position about the dynamism of the industry and the convergence it brings about is: “You have to be on your toes and learn to change the car tires while the car is in motion. I’ve always been an avid change agent and not unmindful of the changes in the industry, so, I’m very much on top of the major changes technology especially has made. It’s the digital age where the Internet and social media platforms have provided awesome channels and tools of communication. It’s about speed; it’s about relevance; it’s also about currency. Trending topics provide you great opportunities to jump into conversations and connect with the consumer in real-time. It’s the season of optimizations and conversations with the consumer rather than throwing advertising messages at them.

“For instance, when GOT (Game of Thrones) was trending, there were conversations and catchphrases trending from the series. This provided an opportunity for the Workers Day advertising campaigns that ran at the time. The consumer has become much more sophisticated, more discerning; it’s indeed a time that the consumer is king indeed. It’s a season of data when you have to mine to ensure you are speaking to the right consumer at the time, in the right place and with the right type of messaging. Today’s consumer does not suffer fools gladly; you have to learn to carve an emotional space in his/her mind: you must connect and engage.”

Moribund APCON
Another area Adesina feels should receive critical attention of the industry is the regulatory agency, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON. She feels so sad that the purpose of setting up APCON is almost being defeated as it has been without a council for more than four years. She said, “the purpose of regulation for me is two-pronged; regulation of messaging and regulation of the practice. While you may have some level of self-regulation by some practitioners, a moribund APCON has created an atmosphere of sharp practices in the industry.

The last APCON board, which put a new code of practice in place; to protect the business of advertising, is yet to see the light of day after years of putting the code together. I believe the industry is losing out a great deal.”
 
Advertising trends
Advertising is a profession that thrives on trends, there has to be a high level of currency all the time. “We all tell stories every day but brands are much more compelling in storytelling now. That’s why you see or hear more emotional ads today. More brands are stepping away from hard sell to emotive ads because these are the ads that tug at the heart and engage consumers better. Nike is a brand that has done this effectively from the Kaepernick ad to the Nike ads for women titled “dream crazier” narrated by Serena Williams. It is one of the most compelling ads I’ve seen about women`s struggles at work. And then just after the female World Cup win of the US team, Nike seized the moment again with an ad drumming up support for “equal pay” as was powerfully raised by Megan Rapinoe, the co-captain of the US women’s team. With brands being more relevant in the lives of consumers, storytelling is definitely working,” she said.
 
Competition
The marketing communications industry is not lacking in stiff competition, but Adesina appears to have braced up with what it throws at her. “Competition is a part of our lives. There’s no big deal. Its what keeps us both on our toes. Prima Garnet Africa and Nitro 121 are like two siblings who are distinct individuals, with distinct personalities and lead unique lifestyles. Neither of them will give up living because of the other.

“ I honestly don’t know about the saturation of agencies in Nigeria. Its more about the exigencies of the times in view of the changes that have taken place in the industry – the advent of the specialised agencies, including the digital agencies, the tech-enabled platforms, the changes in how we communicate global trends, among others. There are so many individuals who even develop and run their ads, thanks to “Insta”, “Youtube”, among others. Clearly, the business model for ad Agencies has to change to address these changes that we see.”
 
Digital incursions 
Although the increasing influence of digital technology on advertising appears to threaten the business, giving the influx of nerds and geeks into what was traditionally advertising practice; Adesina has found it a necessary occurrence and averred that the industry is ready to respond to the challenge, adding, “the influence of digital on the business is not a threat but where the world is headed and we’ll do well to position ourselves to remain relevant in the scheme of things. While there’s no doubt that ad spends are increasing on digital and dipping on traditional media, that change is inevitable. Don’t forget that advertising is a dynamic industry. We have well-trained professionals in Nigeria capable of adapting to the changes that technology is bringing and adding our creative ingenuity to ensure we continue to lead with quality output for the clients and for the market’s good.”

Industry’s prospect in 2019
Analysing the future of the industry, Adesina predicts a tough outlook, considering the fact that the first two quarters of 2019, were considerably poor. “The election stalled things in the first quarter of the year, the government is yet to fully appoint ministers, Foreign Direct Investments have dipped, and consumer confidence is still low. There are a few other indices, but we all hope that things will pick up in the last half of the year if not so, there is every likelihood of a very tough outlook,” she added.

 


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