We Need To Be More Competitive At The Global Level – Lanre Adisa

Lanre Adisa, MD/CCO, Noah's Ark Communications.
Lanre Adisa, MD/CCO, Noah’s Ark Communications.


Mr. Lanre Adisa is the Managing Director of Noah’s Ark Communications Limited, an agency that has continued to blaze the trail in Nigeria’s highly competitive integrated marketing communication industry. Mr. Adisa recently bared his mind to the Brand Communicator team on the IMC industry, Cristal and Loeris awards and other sundry issues. Excerpt:


Expectations From Nigerian Agencies At African Cristals

Although I don’t have details of the number of entries from Nigeria to the African Cristal Awards this year, I am sure it is going to be more than what they had last year. I think after last year, representatives of African Cristal paid a visit to Nigeria and that made a lot more people to take interest in the Cristal awards. So, I expect that there should be more entries.


My expectation is that Nigeria should perform better than it did last year. I want to see many agencies from Nigeria winning at the mainstream because only one Nigerian agency has won award in the mainstream Cristal awards.  That is actually where you tell which country or agency is doing very well compared to its peers in other parts of the continent. I expect that to happen this year. I expect it to be more than one agency at the mainstream level, and I also hope that they maintain the Nigerian category where Nigerian agencies are celebrated for the work coming out of Nigeria.

My expectations are on the positive side. I am looking forward to some really exciting work.


Quality Of Craft

I think the quality of craft is getting better. There is some kind of reawakening of competitiveness within the industry in terms of who is doing what.  Everybody wants to be celebrated and it is not just limited to agencies. Even clients will like to have their brands celebrated via the kind of works that are being created for those brands.

What has improved the quality of craft is the drive to be different and this has led to a higher level of competiveness at least within the circle of agencies.


More Agencies At International Awards

If anyone had told me last year that there would be entries from only one agency, I would be surprised.  I don’t take any joy in the fact that we are the only agency. That is actually saddening. Why should there be only one agency?


If we want to be reckoned with as an industry we have to be competitive. I mean, people celebrate their countries. South Africa just came back from there and they are just talking about the fact that they just won some awards. It is not so much about this or that agency won. There is a ranking at the end of the day to indicate the countries according to how well they did. It is only when, in our little corners, we are driven by the same zeal to be different and be celebrated for being different that we will have the pride that our country is doing well.


Nigerian Agencies At The Global Level

While some agencies do attend awards, some do not. It depends on what is driving individual agencies. You cannot compel agencies. I think there is enough awareness. As at last year, more people went to Cannes than the previous year, and the year before that. I don’t know if the same thing will happen this year. However, what I know for sure is that there is awareness and consciousness of Cannes Lions. It is left for agencies to go there as participant or spectator.


Noah’s Ark Vision

Being globally recognised or awarded is not really our aim. What has happened so far is driven by a vision. Our vision is to be in the league of the most successful brand builders out of Africa. We don’t just do anything because we want to impress anybody. There is always a reason for what we do. That vision is still very relevant to our lives today and it will continue to be going forward.


At the core of all our successes, you cannot take away our vision. What our vision means is that we don’t see ourselves as just one local Nigerian agency. We see ourselves competing with any agency anywhere in the world.


When you see yourself competing with the rest of the world, there is a particular drive that you put into what you do because other people you are up against have a different kind of work ethic as well. So, it controls everything that we do and how we see ourselves. Another thing is that it is not so much about winning awards. Again, people shouldn’t get it wrong. The award is the bonus element of sorts that comes from the output that you apply to the things you do. It’s about working with the clients,


At Noah’s Ark, we see ourselves as an extension of our clients’ marketing departments. That is how we work. That is our mission statement. We don’t just see ourselves sitting down here waiting for a brief, give it some razzmatazz, win an award and then everyone is happy. We partner with our clients.


We have been working for the Tolaran Group for as far back as a year after our establishment. We still work for them. We want to be partners with clients. We want to be the partners in progress, and we also think ahead for them.


Some of the works we did for our clients are not briefs from them. They are proactive works we sell to clients and they agree with us because we have an understanding of the brand. We produced it, they approved it and they won customers and businesses for it. We also won awards for it. That is the way we apply ourselves.


Jury On The Cannes

Cannes Lions is the World Cup of advertising. They have their own rules as well. For one to judge works at Cannes Lions, you also have to win. If you are not a winner at Cannes, it is going to be a long shot for you to be on the jury.


We have to work harder to earn it. It is not just something that comes to you on a platter of gold. You may be considered based on reputation but then, there are a thousand and one people around the world who they can consider, who will say their country won and they have not been on the jury.

There is nothing secretive about it. We just have to work harder and win.


Between Loeris And Cristal Awards

For me, there is nothing to gain from trying to compare and contrast the two awards.  I think what matters most is to ask the question: What is the level or standard of the judging? Does it match up with set standards from around the world? If they can satisfy that, we can have as many as four or five awards. It is up to you as an agency to say you want to partake in this or the other one. As far as I am concerned, both of them attract good quality jurors from different parts of the world and that assures you of the quality of judging. It means that your work will be subjected to very transparent and objective vetting.


The two awards are different in scope and aim. The Loeris started as a South African affair and they saw the window to bring in other countries from other parts of the world. They opened their doors to these countries and we see the results today.


What it does to you is that if you can go through the Loeris and win, you are in the same league with your peers in South Africa and other parts of the world.


At the end of Loeris last year, we were ranked as number one in sub-Saharan Africa and number nine in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East outside of Africa. Now, that wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t open up their windows.


This helps to boost your confidence and encourage others that if Noah’s Ark can do it, I can also do it. It gives you that mention in the international space.


My joy will be to see not just one agency but more Nigerian agencies coming on that table that will make people respect the fact that we do things of respect in West Africa – and Nigeria is leading the chart in West Africa.


Look at the Cristal, you can see it is a global thing as well. There are different versions of Cristal and this is the one for Africa. It is to help encourage creativity in Africa.


Lessons For LAIF From Cristal and Loeris

It is very possible that LAIF can be in the league of Cristal and Loeris and that is up to us. There are things that can help us. Resource in terms of funding is very important for you to be able to attract certain kinds of resource people like the jurors who are not only from your country but from other parts of the world as well. You need to have the kind of strategy that can sustain that.


When you bring together international participants, you need to have certain kinds of arrangements that will ensure that everything is smoothly run in terms of logistics, accommodation and all.


I believe there is nothing stopping us in doing that. We are the advertising people, the brand people. If we cannot turn LAIF around and make it bigger than it is, then we have ourselves to blame.

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