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At conference, marketing communications scholars, professionals raise need for industry synergy

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
06 December 2022   |   10:44 am
Despite the bleak economic climate, marketing communications professionals, scholars and stakeholders in the industry, amid conviviality, last week, converged on Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, for the National Conference on Advertising tagged, ‘The Marketing Communications Industry in Nigeria: New Trends, Challenges and Prospects.’ The conference, second in its annals, was organised by Advertising Regulatory Council of…

Despite the bleak economic climate, marketing communications professionals, scholars and stakeholders in the industry, amid conviviality, last week, converged on Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, for the National Conference on Advertising tagged, ‘The Marketing Communications Industry in Nigeria: New Trends, Challenges and Prospects.’

The conference, second in its annals, was organised by Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON).
At the event, participants engaged in meaningful conversation geared at improving business framework and standard of practice to move the industry forward. They shared ideas, knowledge and perspectives on the new trends and challenges that would shape the profession. Not forgetting networking.

Stakeholders harped on the need to retool and come up with ingenious ideas to save the industry from further decline as well as take advantage of the political climate, which is fertile and replete with unexploited potential.

While other sectoral bodies appear to be heaving a sigh of relief after the hardship experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown, when clients suspended most of their projects, the problem of insecurity, reduction in government spending have affected consumer spending and marketing activities adversely, especially in the northern part of the country.
The Director General of ARCON, Dr Olalekan Fadolapo, said, “the 2022 edition of the conference is happening at a time the regulatory framework is going through some fundamental changes, which aimed at improving the practice and business of advertising in Nigeria.”

He said, “business and practice of advertising are on the decline. To arrest the decline in performance standards, the business framework and standards must be improved.”
According to him, “with regards to what we have done to grow the industry, we are looking at local content policy. The local content policy is to give Nigerians and the Nigerian economy the opportunity to grow beyond what it is. We are getting stakeholders in advertising industry to commit to commercial terms that are not injurious to any party, for promotion of equity and fairness in the ecosystem.”

The ARCON boss explained that his Council, in collaboration with all stakeholders, had taken up the responsibility to interrogate the body of knowledge called advertising, as well as improve the business framework and standard of practice.
As part of retooling efforts by ARCON, it also recently compelled minimum of 75 per cent cumulative local content in advertisements targeted at the Nigerian market with effect from January 1, 2023.

Fadolapo had said: “This has continuously led to loss of jobs in the industry, retarding the growth and development of the Nigerian advertising industry. The current efforts of the Federal Government aimed at job creation, inclusive growth and development of various sectors of the economy are negatively affected by this trend which if not regulated, will lead to continuous decimation of the Nigerian Advertising Industry.”

While revealing ways of implementing the policy, he said: “The policy on a minimum of 75 per cent cumulative local content will be applicable to all advertising, advertisement and marketing communication materials directed at the Nigerian market. The following guidelines will apply: model and voice-over artist shall be Nigerian citizens, production of advertising, advertisement and marketing communication materials must be done in Nigeria, ambience should reflect Nigeria as much as possible.”

Fadolapo noted, yearly, “this policy will create over 500,000 new job opportunities within the advertising industry with a positive multiplier effect on the economy.
“Current job holders will be protected as the Nigerian advertising ecosystem will witness progressive growth. The new policy will also attract investment to the industry.
“The leakages and capital flight being experienced in the industry as a result of foreign production of advertising campaigns will be discouraged, “he said.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who declared the conference open after his Federal Executive Meeting of the day, said his administration had embarked on various reforms that include, but are not limited to the recently promulgated ARCON, Amendments of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, the Audience Measurement System and the Digital Switch Over (DSO) all of which have revolutionised the advertising industry.

“Section 8(1)(j) of the ARCON Act No.23 of 2022 empowers ARCON to ensure the preservation of Nigerian local content and use of indigenous skills as an important element in advertising, advertisement and marketing communications services in Nigeria and for such services directed at the Nigerian market.
“The introduction of regulations under the amended Broadcasting Code mandating Media Agencies and Advertisers to offset all outstanding invoices within 60-days related to advert placement and the barring of carriage of adverts of defaulters, will significantly address the diversion of advert revenue to the wring hands, lack of accountability in the advertising industry and significant empowerment in terms of funding for content producers and channel owners in the Nigerian media industry.

“The new amendment of the Broadcasting Code in furtherance of the required quota of 60 per cent carriage of local content, has further defined the local content criteria targeted at the Nigerian audience as either produced or directed or authored by Nigerians, must-have least 75 per cent carriage of the leading actors and major supporting cast or must-have a minimum of 75 per cent carriage of its program expenses and 75 per cent carriage of post-production expenses are paid for services provided by Nigerians or Nigerian companies. This initiative will considerably develop the skills, expertise and industry of the local content market.

“In summary, the combination of the Provision of the new Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) Act and the amendments to the Broadcasting Code will achieve the following: Increased competition and thus improved quality programming; reduce capital flight; Increase FX earnings; Promote local participation and content; Deepen the broadcasting landscape by providing better access to content; Help in creating monetisation windows and a healthier financial structure for broadcasting; Wealth creation and lastly, provide a robust landing pad for the actualization of the digital benefits for the nation.”

Also speaking, the Chairman Senate Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, Hon. Olusegun Odebunmi, said that it would continue to give legal backing to the council, advising stakeholders to sanitise the council and make it to be the envy of other professions.
“In the next few months, people will see ARCON in a new dimension as the members have been empowered to perform their duty accordingly. Members should protect the industry so that in years to come, it will be the envy of other professions and everyone will be rushing to belong or identify with the profession,” he said.

The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, represented by the Director Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage, Baba-Gana Adam, said: “The role of the marketing communication industry for the growth of businesses and by extension the Nigerian economy cannot be overstated.
“Your professional expertise, perhaps more than ever is required at this point in time, considering the current economically challenging times that is not limited to Nigeria alone.
“You also carry the burden of responsibility to abide by all the procedures and guidelines regulating your industry as you have the obligation of meeting the needs of your clientele and the general public.

He said ahead of the 2023 general elections, ARCON has the responsibility to ensure that in the course of the campaigns, messages capable of undermining the democratic or electioneering process or even the unity and stability of the country are not allowed into the public arena.
According to the FCT minister: “The vision of ARCON which among others, is the promotion of responsible and ethical advertising practice, acting as the conscience of society and watchdog for the consumer is especially relevant and timely as the 2023 elections draw near.
“Political advertising as we are aware is a very significant part of the campaigns and the tendency for the advertisers to go overboard and cross several ethical lines while trying to get their messages across is always a factor that cannot be overlooked.

“You, therefore, have a responsibility to ensure that in the course of the campaigns, messages capable of undermining the democratic or electioneering process or even the unity and stability of the country are not allowed into the public arena.”

Already, with regards to moderating foul language by politicians, the code of advertising is there. In fact, from yesterday, December 5, 2022, ARCON started enforcing compliance on decorum in all political advertisement campaign in Nigeria.
Any advertisement that is not approved by the council, in line with the code of advertising, any stakeholder involved in the publication or exposure of that material will be sanctioned and prosecuted, the council had noted.
The Director, Department of Outdoor Advertising and Signage of the FCT, Babagana Adam, represented Bello at the event.

In his lead paper at the conference, an economist and consultant, Mr. Ademola Henry Adigun, said after spending about $65 billion to stabilise the naira within five years, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must stop depleting Nigeria’s foreign reserves on the naira stability,
Adigun advised that Nigeria “must borrow to spend its way out of the current economic hardships.”
He warned, “we have spent in the last five years close to $65 billion on stabilising a currency that is not stabilised. You can’t stabilise it. So, it’s either we jump and sustain injuries before we are pushed off if we are not careful.”

He noted that Nigeria might be headed the way of Ghana if doesn’t make rational economic decisions quickly.“We are in a very difficult time. There is an exchange rate crisis; there is inflation, and all. If you follow Ghana’s economy lately, it is in a mess. It is where we could be too. It took Ghana some bad decisions to get there. It took some bad decisions to get us where we are right now. It will take us some bad decisions to be where Ghana is,” he said.

For MD/Chief Creative Officer, Noah’s Ark Communications Ltd., Lanre Adisa, “we should not be worried about the figure, but see the potential in what we have. We are in a stage where, ARCON, for the first time, in a life time, is actually helping to galvanise our industry for us to have a bigger share. If anything at all, this is the moment to bond together more and see where we can take from one another. There is no moment to do that than now when a new government is coming in.”
He said: “Under normal circumstance, people in advertising should be swimming in naira as the elections are close by, but what we see in the industry is a rift, our industry, as we speak, is not benefiting from that. If we have anything at all, going forward we need to manage how we fall.

It is not enough for us, as we said in the last conference, sitting in our different silos, how silent do we come together as a pressure group that can take advantage of what it has got. If we don’t do that, another four years will go bye and we will still be falling and I don’t think that’s what we need. There is hope where the spike will come and that for me is the different services. It will also come from government spending.”
Adisa raised the need for “wide collaboration across the sector; bring more people, whatever formal or informal together in our best interest.”