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Advertising practitioners must be part of government’s economic plan, Babaeko insists


Practitioners at a recent national advertising conference in Abuja

For the CEO of X3M, Steve Babaeko, it is imperative for advertising practitioners to be part of government’s economic plan. In a chat with The Guardian in Lagos recently, he expressed dissatisfaction with the manner practitioners were being left out of such plans that are aimed at increasing government’s revenue.He argued that practitioners interact with big players in the economy and as such could provide useful data that would revamp the economy.

“They are our clients — from the manufacturing to fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) — so, the first place to check where the economy is going is from the advertising space, because we know who is reducing or increasing spending, so you can use that to build up data.”
He added, “I don’t think there is any year that the British economy is discussed without Sir Martin Sorrell’s opinion being sought after as to the direction the economy will go.”

According to Babaeko, it is important to bring in key practitioners in the industry because if they don’t do good job, some of these key manufacturing companies will not be able to actualise their goal.  

On government’s inability to inaugurate APCON’s council over the years, he stressed the need for the issue to be resolved quickly, insisting that this is not a good development for the industry. “The fact that we have not carried placards and disturbing the whole country doesn’t mean we have not been reaching out to the government in every possible way we can.”

He revealed that under the leadership of Nkechi Odigo, Vice Chairman of Casers Group as Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) president, “we have done a lot. We have met with the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Secretary to the Federal Government. We have sent emissaries and letters, as well as reaching out to the minister of information.”

The government, he insisted, should do something about it this year, “because you cannot leave that sector grounded for three to four years without a council, it makes no sense.”

On effects of digital advertising, he reasoned that technology would come and go but human capacity for creativity sustains this business. “I’m not all panicky about digital advertising. The new media of today will become the old media of the next three years. You have to take into account that this threat exists, how are you going to prevent the threats of losing business and be above board is the question.”

Speaking on the plans of X3M in the next few years, he said, “we are in Nigeria, which accounts for the whole West Africa, because Nigeria represents about 75 per cent of the entire West Africa Gross Domestic Product.  We are in South/ Central Africa, operating from Johannesburg and Zambia covering Malawi, Mozambique and whole of that South Central Africa region. This year, we’ll have the opportunity to move into East Africa that will cover Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia but for now, lets keep our fingers crossed.

“Our objective is not to make money; it is to do what other people think is impossible. The immediate objective of anything I go into is not money, my objective is to do what should be done, look for problems to solve and if you do it very well that’s where sustainability comes in.  The fact is, if you don’t do it effectively, you can’t be talking about money. Once you identify the problem and solve it very well, possibly, the reward will come in. We are very optimistic that soon, we will begin to see result of all the handwork we put in. We also want to be the first agency that will be listed in stock exchange. I know it’s going to take a bit of some kind of mergers and acquisition; we are really open and ready for some of those conversations.”

Commenting on the idea and motive behind Babaeko Farm, he said I am a Nigerian passionate about anything Nigeria. As a nation, we can’t even feed ourselves and all the statistics available indicate that by 2030, Nigeria will be third biggest country in the world behind China and India. Right now at 200 million people, we can’t even feed ourselves. What happens when we get to that stage?  So, it becomes an imperative that all hands must be on deck to further push agriculture.

He disclosed said what further blew his mind was the statistics he got somewhere. “It claimed that, as at 2018, this country spent 500 million dollars to import palm oil, this does not make sense in any way. There is no way I can sit down and sleep at night knowing that half a billion dollars is expended on palm oil, that’s for me is a final straw.”

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