The Vice President of the Association of Advertising Agency of Nigeria (AAAN) and Chief Executive Officer of X3M Ideas, Steve Babaeko, have disclosed how 2019 elections affected the advertising industry.
This, according to him, cost the local advertising companies revenue loss for about six months, as the foreign advertising agency secured more campaign slots for the Nigerian market.
The Nigerian general elections occurred in the first and second quarters of 2019. According to Babaeko, the political activities made the first-half of last year a bad outing for the advertising industry.
Babaeko said the elections left the advertising industry with just six months to operate in the full year.
“It was a very difficult year for the advertising sector. We saw shocking business activities going on. Most major participants in business and enterprise could not do much because of the election. So technically for the industry, we only had six months’ calendar as we had to wait for swearing-in on May 29.
“So technically, economic activities kicked off in June and that greatly affected the industry,” explained, Babaeko.
For this and other reasons, he submitted that, “2019 did not fare well for the industry especially in the area of financial growth.”
Why local advertisers recorded loss: Babaeko stated that politicians ignored registered local advertising agencies, as some marketing communications firm secured deals relating to the political activities through back doors, rather than the proper channel of bidding through pitching ideas.
So, according to the Vice-Chairman, AAAN, “2019 did not fare well for the industry especially in the area of financial growth.”
Close the door on foreign ad agencies: Babaeko, who is also the founder of X3M Music, the record label of Artiste Simi, said the preference for foreign agencies also affected the local advertising agencies. He said the local players were ignored during the political circle in 2019, with political campaigns being awarded to foreign firms.
Babaeko queried why foreign ad agencies will be contracted to run a campaign for the Nigerian society when they have little understanding of the Nigerian terrain. He called the government to apply the same border closure policy to the advertising industry in order to protect local advertising firms.
“Each time we have some of these activities happening, it hurts the local industry. Aside economic downturn, this exclusion of the local industry at such periods is not healthy for the sector. I really love the policy on border closure. I think the government should do an equivalent of that in the advertising sector.
“There should a standing policy to ward off foreign interference. These are people who do not even know the nuances of our culture and tradition, they are being paid to come and do strategy for campaigns. To be honest, it doesn’t make sense. Now we are losing money, losing scarce foreign exchange to foreign countries while we have an industry here that employs labour and we are starving them,” he lamented.
Why is Babaeko worried? Babaeko’s worry is understandable, as most of the advertising campaigns done during that period were political campaigns. Most companies usually hold on to their commercial campaigns in order not to be swept away by the political campaigns, which get more attention from Nigerians during the political circle.
So, ignoring the local ad agencies in such a political period wouldn’t benefit the industry in any way, as they lose revenue because they depend on the political campaigns for that period.
Other problems facing ad agencies: He added that the lack of a governing board for the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) was taking a toll on advertising agencies within Nigeria.
Babaeko said efforts had been made to ensure APCON reconstitutes a governing board. This was after the end of Lolu Akinwunmi’s tenure in 2015. The efforts have, however, not been fruitful.
Babaeko said one of the efforts was a meeting with the Vice President but no council had been constituted for the regulatory agency of the advertising industry. It was also stated that the president had been trying to impose politicians and non-professionals to chair APCON despite such action contravening the Advertising Law of Act 55, 1988 (as amended).