Affiliation, Partnership And The Advertising Practice In Nigeria
By Tunji Faleye
Before the recent wave of affiliations and partnerships in the Nigerian advertising landscape, two schools of thoughts existed on the subject among practitioners. Even as some advertising professionals held strongly to the view that affiliation or partnership with foreign agencies will put the nation’s advertising industry in a disadvantaged position, others believed that the move will spark growth and development within the industry.
Amidst these divergent views, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) unveiled the 5th APCON Committee on Advertising Reform (ACAPR) in 2013 which stipulated that foreign agencies that wish to play in Nigeria’s advertising space can only own a maximum of 25 percent stake in the local agency.
The restriction sparked off a huge controversy among stakeholders in the advertising industry. Although a section of the industry hailed the 5th ACAPR as the best thing to have happened to the industry in a long ting, several agency owners argued that the reform needed re-evaluation. One of such professionals was Mr. Lanre Adisa, Chief Creative Officer of Noah’s Ark, who suggested that the reform needed some re-consideration in line with the realities.
George Thorpe, founding chairman of MediaReach OMD, one of the leading lights and thought leaders in the Nigerian marketing communication space also described the regulatory body’s introduction of agency licensing regime as a counter-productive and undemocratic proclamation, saying that the law which limits foreign ownership of agencies in Nigeria to not more 25 percent of shareholding will stifle growth and meaningful development in the industry.
Apart from these two, many other stakeholders aired their opinions about the APCON Reform and there are still divergent opinions about the Reform till date.
New Affiliations, Partnerships
Regardless of the 5th ACAPR, it was inevitable that foreign advertising agencies will join their other counterparts in seeking to take advantage of the large population and huge investment opportunities available in the Nigerian economy.
For instance, Publicis Groupe, a leading global network of advertising agencies and Troyka Group, Nigeria’s largest marketing outfit formalised a landmark equity acquisition relationship which saw Publicis terminating existing business relationships with other agencies in Nigeria.
It is interesting to note that since this partnership, and the aligning of the agencies in Troyka with Publicis Groupe, the two power houses have become a dominant machine.
According to Dr. Ken Onyeali Ikpe , “we want to activate a dominant machine that will take advertising to a level where Africans don’t even dream of. The partnership with Publicis is supposed to energize the system, create competence, elevate knowledge and skills sets in our group, and then we transfer that knowledge and skill set by way of providing solutions for our clients and that process is on.
“All members of the communication company have gone through training and immersion in the last two years and we have change programme going on. Our Executive Creative Director of Insight has been posted to Publicis Africa as the Executive Creative Director and is working out of Accra in Ghana. We have many of such cross-posting going on now. The train has left the station. It is a journey that we will definitely see through. We should be talking about success levels in about five years from now. We intend to deepen our market dominance.”
It will also be recalled that frontiers of the Nigerian advertising industry got a boost in 2015 with the announcement of a strategic partnership between a Nigerian agency, Media Fuse and London-based agency, Dentsu Aegis Network.
The essence of the partnership is to create within the advertising industry, a niche based organisation with a sharper focus on digital performance and increased technology.
Since the unveiling of the partnership, the Nigerian advertising industry has been taken to a new level in terms of digital communication and advertising.
For instance, the partnership has produced the launch of Consumer Connection System (CCS), the Dentsu Aegis Network consumer, lifestyle and product survey. According to the survey, advertisers and communication experts will have the opportunity to calculate deliverables with the use of CCS.
In 2016, Dentsu Aegis strengthened its footprint in West Africa with the signing of Noah’s Ark Communications Limited, one of Nigeria’s leading creative agencies, as its affiliate creative agency in the market.
Noah’s Ark Communications Limited is Nigeria’s fastest growing creative agency and a full member of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN). The agency has won several awards both locally and internationally.
Not quite long, news also broke that Dentsu Aegis signed another affiliation with Nigeria’s Outori, an unconventional consumer experiential agency in a strategic move designed to enhance both companies’ mutual positioning and business footprints in the sub-region.
Outori which came into the market just about a year ago has made some defining moves as one company in the market that enjoys the membership of both the experiential and advertising sectoral groups in the country, EXMAN and AAAN respectively.
Outori, as a full-fledged brand communications agency, offers specialised services in experiential marketing, live experiences, activations, sponsorship planning, digital marketing, media consulting and content marketing.
Early in 2017, Grey Group, Adweek Global Agency of the Year, came back to Nigeria having appointed Centrespread, one of Nigeria’s largest independent advertising communication groups as its affiliate.
The Centrespread Group, which operates from offices in Lagos and Abuja, has rebranded as CentrespreadGREY, re-establishing the global advertising giant as a leader in providing creative and effective full-service marketing solutions across the African continent, will focus on developing a strong local GREY presence in Nigeria.
With all these new affiliations and partnerships of foreign and Nigeria agencies, industry watchers say these are a sign of good things to come in the nation’s IMC industry. Though, many are quick to remind optimists that most of the earlier affiliations and partnerships between Nigerian agencies and their foreign counterparts had collapsed. According to them, the only partnership/affiliation that has stood the test of time is the ongoing one between DDB and Casers Group. And since the merger, the agency has become ‘enemy of the ordinary’ with landmark achievements to show for it.
Stakeholders believe that the translation of the new wave of affiliations and partnerships into successes will prompt many other agencies which have not done so to look for credible foreign counterparts to partner with in order to boost their competitiveness in the industry.
They assert that now that Nigerian agencies have learnt from the mistakes of the early mergers, they take their time, look well into the books and study the DNA of the prospective international suitors before giving their consent to new partnerships or affiliations with foreign agencies.