Nigerian Brands Must Keep Up With Advertising Trends

Sinmisola Hughes -Obisesan, Creative Director at Leo Burnett in Lagos
Sinmisola Hughes -Obisesan, Creative Director at Leo Burnett in Lagos

The traditional mind set of many Nigerian brands is making it difficult for the country’s advertising industry to keep pace with the new global data-driven approach, which would make better inroads into the country’s young consumer market and perform well in international competitions.

Although spending on advertising in Nigeria is growing at one of the fastest rates in the world, clients are reluctant to give creatives the opportunity to use data and technology to come up with world-class campaigns, industry executives maintain.

“In general, I feel a lot of clients need to have a better understanding of how to do digital – the audience is more youthful and their attention span is short, so ideas need to be edgier and less conventional to cut through,” says Sinmisola Hughes-Obisesan, Creative Director at Leo Burnett in Lagos, and a judge at this year’s Loeries in Durban, South Africa.

“They need to be more receptive to bold and brave recommendations by agencies as to how to get their message across. A lot of clients dislike change and want to stay in their comfort zone. Agencies may want to do something different and clients like the idea, but when it comes to signing off on it they often get cold feet,” she added.

One Nigerian entry to win an award at the Loeries this year, the “Give a Soap” campaign created by the 02 Academy in Lagos, ticked all of the boxes mentioned by Hughes-Obisesan. Awarded a bronze in the Facebook Challenge for students, it was also in step with another global trend – creating ads which alter behaviour in a way that benefits society. A second Bronze Loerie for Nigeria went to the agency Up In The Sky for the internet video campaign “Closed – A Short Film”, produced for 9 Mobile (previously Etisalat Nigeria).

In its 2018 Digital Trends Report for Nigeria, data and marketing technology business Terragon highlights the importance of personalisation, artificial intelligence, online video and digital solutions and partnerships as key drivers for the growth of businesses targeting the Nigerian consumer.

Going digital is no longer an option, and brands must embed a data-driven approach into every facet of their marketing efforts if they are to expect exponential growth in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, according to Tolu Odulawa, head of Terragon’s business operations.

“Mass marketing doesn’t exist anymore. People are buying from who they trust over time and who connects with them individually. If you aren’t doing it, your competition is,” he said. “Brands must, therefore, seek to identify their customers across various touch points and connect with them in the most relevant ways,” says Odulawa.

Last year advertising spending on the internet in Nigeria amounted to $66 million, behind TV and video at $156 million and Out-of-Home at $125 million, according to the 2018 Entertainment and Media Outlook for Africa from PwC.

But it surged by 16.5%, while both TV and Video and the Out-of-Home categories increased by just 1.1%. Over the next four years, spending on Internet advertising is expected to continue showing double-digit growth while remaining well below ten percent in the other two categories, the PwC outlook shows.

Hughes-Obisesan says that one useful strategy would be to take guidance from video clips which go viral in Nigeria. Nollywood is big in the country and often a line or a short clip from a popular film would become an instant buzzword or expression.

Advertising campaigns could pick up on those, but clients needed to be quick to approve adoption of those ideas, she said. Young people, who make up more than half of the country’s population and have growing disposable income, are “experimental and exploratory”, she added. “The market is just ripe for the taking.”

Hughes-Obisesan is the only female creative director in Nigeria, and she feels that ads often do not target women effectively. Although there are plenty of female creatives in the industry, corporate boardrooms are less inclusive, which means that they don’t always get the new insights or perspectives needed to reach today’s female consumers.

“Ads that target women all say the same thing, like we haven’t evolved as a species,” she says.

Loeries Creative Week was held in Durban, South Africa 13 – 19 August. All winners can be viewed on

The Loeries has been rewarding creativity for 40 years. As Africa and the Middle East’s premier award that recognises, rewards, inspires and fosters creative excellence in the advertising and brand communication industry, winning a Loerie is the highest accolade for creativity and innovation across our region. The Loeries, a proudly not-for-profit company, promotes and supports creativity by helping marketers, agencies and consumers appreciate the value of fresh thinking, innovative ideas and outstanding execution. Culminating in the biggest creative gathering in the region, Loeries Creative Week brings together the best innovative minds from our industry for a festival that offers networking, creative inspiration and the recognition of great work. The creative economy across Africa and the Middle East is world-class and has great potential to offer employment to our talented youth, and the Loeries places a significant emphasis on education and development.

Major Partners of the Loeries 2018 Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN), The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, KwaZulu-Natal Province (EDTEA), eThekwini Municipality – Durban Tourism, DStv Media Sales, Gearhouse Group

Category Partners AB InBev, Accenture, Brand South Africa, Facebook, Gagasi FM, Google, JCDecaux, SANBS, South African Airways, Tsogo Sun, Unilever South Africa, Woolworths Additional Partners and Official Suppliers AAA School of Advertising, Absolut, Antalis South Africa, Aon South Africa, Association of Practitioners in Advertising Kenya, Backsberg, BEE Online, Circus Circus, First Source, Fresh RSVP Guest Logistics, Funk Productions, Gallo Images, Grid Worldwide, Hetzner, Multiprint Litho, Jameson, Lingo Communications, Newsclip, Paygate, Rocketseed, Scan Display, Shift Social Development, Spitfire, Vega School, VQI Communications Nigeria Official Media Partners Between 10and5,, B&W Report, Brand Communicator Nigeria, Book of Swag, Business Insider by Pulse, Campaign Middle East, Creative Feel, Design Times, Film & Event Media, Goliath and Goliath,,, Marketing Edge Nigeria, Marketing Africa Kenya, Media Update, The Redzone.

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