By Tunji Faleye
Towards the end of 2017 and barely few weeks into 2018 many analysts predicted trends that will shape the Nigerian economy outlook coming from the background of a battered economy, no thanks to recession in 2016/2017, and the subsequent government’s declaration that the country was out of recession.
Interestingly, stakeholders in the Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) industry also took a cue from their counterparts in other sectors of the economy predicting 2018 outlook for the IMC industry. They predicted that the economy will pick up in the first quarter of 2018 based on two major events which they believe will determine how the economy will look like and how it will affect the IMC industry.
The two major events are: 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and the political campaigns which will pump massive money into the nation’s economy. Speaking on the outlook for IMC industry in 2018, Emeka Okeke, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Media Fuse Dentsu Aegis predicted that both the Russia World Cup and 2019 Political campaign will contribute immensely to the growth of the economy and the media in 2018. According to Okeke, “In 2018 there are two things that would impact on media spend in the entire industry. There could have been a third one, but I will categorise it as a subset of the first factor. The first is the 2018 World Cup in Russia which Nigeria will also be participating in. This will afford many big brands to play in that space, knowing quite well that Nigeria is a football country with a massive following.
“The second factor that will shape the size of advertising budget in 2018 will be political campaigns leading up to the January / February elections. It is believed that government will lift the ban on political campaigns around July, just few day after World Cup. The imperative of this is that it will afford politicians opportunity to spend so much around that time to win more supporters.
Definitely, FIFA World Cup will contribute massively to media spend in 2018 in the area of sports marketing and collaterals that will come with it which is clearly sponsorship. For Okeke, broadcast media will come together under the umbrella of Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, for a broadcast licence, whether sublease or direct licence from FIFA. That means brands will be interested to spend in order to get fans’ attention during the tournament. Also, there will be other packages coming up from independent marketers and independent broadcasters. A lot of advert materials will also come out for World Cup in terms of broadcast.
Apart from media buying, there are strong indications that creative agencies will also benefit from a significant spend for new communications materials during the World Cup period in terms of promotional materials. Definitely, it’s going to be a year full of activities which will impact on broadcast, on print, creative agencies.
According to Kayode Ebatamehi, Managing Director of Bluebird Communications Limited, “The future is very bright in 2018 because of the share size of the Nigerian economy, the people and the resources. Based on that, I think there is hope and the future is bright for Nigeria as a nation and the economy. By extension, the marketing communication industry will also benefit from the growth in the economy.
“The truth is that there will always be a need for people to sell and if there is a need for people to sell, there will also be a need to differentiate your brand from others and that is where communication comes in.”
Similarly, Tunji Abioye, managing Director of Fuel Communications opined that 2018 will be a better year for the Nigerian economy and the IMC industry. He projected by saying, “I do strongly believe that 2018 is going to be a better and more colourful year than 2017. The prognoses are there for all to see. First, the economy has become more stable. We have some measure of stability in the oil and gas sector; there is a measure of sanity also in the Niger-Delta region. There is an understanding and belief that our crude oil supply will be stable and consistent. Asides that, the oil prices have been appreciating to as much as $65 which is good for the country.
“The CBN’s window that has been created for marketers and importers to have access to forex has also helped to stabilize the exchange rate regime and even access to forex. The third thing is the fact that our external reserve has consistently been on the rise. These are few things that the economy can enjoy from.
Public Relations/ Perception Management
The Public Relations and Perception Management subsector of the IMC industry will not be left out in 2018, but serious caution must be taken. Commenting on this, Bolaji Okusaga, MD, Precise said, “While the year 2018 promises to be brighter and better, given the obvious recovery of the economy and a projected increase in government and political spending being a year before the general elections, there is a big need for caution.
According to him, while government spending goes up in the year preceding an election as the government will be in a haste to deliver on its electoral promises, the nature of the spending and the fiscal discipline around the spending may make or mar opportunities in the real sector. This is so because an uncontrolled spending regime may increase inflation and lower consumer spending power with attendant impact on goods and services from which marketing spend is derived.
He added, “while an increase in government and political spending will mean more money for agencies with Public Affair competence and clientele, the flip-side is that the fraction of this spend going to Public Relations Agencies in Nigeria may be low given the propensity of government and political spenders to shut-out local players and express preference for foreign ones.
“Again, we need to look closely at the impact of the rise in government and political spending on the economy because without staying the focus on key government policies like the medium-term expenditure framework and the economic recovery and growth plan by maintaining fiscal discipline through keeping its expenditure within budget targets to avoid eroding the macroeconomic gains made thus far, there may be an adverse effect on the productive sectors of the economy with consequent impact on marketing spend.”
He concluded that while there are indications of improved PR activities and improved spend this year, players need to improve their offers and raise their game in digital in order to tap into the projected growth.
With the increase in experiential marketing’s spend in 2017 despite the economic turbulence; practitioners have projected upsurge growth for the sector in 2018.
For Kehinde Salami, President, Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria, EXMAN and Managing Director of Ideas House Limited, “Experiential Marketing activities in 2017 witnessed a definite improvement from 2016 as a direct result of the stable exchange rate, improved confidence especially in Q3 and Q4, improvement in security among other factors.
“In 2018, we expect to see a similar positive trend of 2017 as long as there is continued confidence in the economy fuelled by capital inflow from institutional investors, of course, this is based on sound government policies, effective monetary and fiscal policy and arrest of inflation. In addition to these, we would love to see a stable Niger Delta region as anything short of that will affect all government plans leading to capital flight yet again.”
Base on all these predictions, industry watchers say one thing that will help IMC industry this year is the wherewithal from the government to create the enablement for manufacturers and other players in the sector. According to IMC professionals, this will go a long way to grow the economy.
Another thing government can do is to assist agencies by partnering with them in all government’s programmes and policies. They are of the opinion that if the government can do this the industry will witness a tremendous growth in the year 2018.