AAAN @ 50: Why Should Ad Practitioners Spare Quality Time To Clink Glasses?


Most business analysts will readily agree that Nigeria’s advertising industry has played a vital role in shaping the country’s economy, culture, and social values over the past fifty years it has operated within a structured setting.

The promotion of locally produced goods and services stands out as one very significant contribution of this strategic sector. Advertising has helped to increase the visibility of locally produced goods and services, which has led to an increase in demand for them. This, in turn, has supported local industries, created jobs, and contributed to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

Promotion Of National Culture

Advertising has also played a vital role in promoting national culture and heritage. Advertisements often incorporate Nigerian cultural references, such as traditional attire, music, and festivals. This has helped to preserve and promote the Nigerian culture both domestically and internationally. It has also helped to create a sense of national identity among Nigerians, as they see their culture represented in advertising.

Even as we see industry regulators pushing to ensure that the Nigerian economy reaps maximum benefits from the sector, it is all flowing from the passion of stakeholders to bake the biggest cake possible for the benefit of all.

Social Cause Advertising

Furthermore, advertising has been a platform for social change in Nigeria. The impact of social cause advertising has been remarkable in raising awareness about social issues such as gender equality, child abuse, and HIV/AIDS. Advertising campaigns have been used successfully to change people’s minds, attitudes, and behaviours toward specific issues, leading to positive social change in the country and across the continent.

Creativity And Innovations

Additionally, advertising has been a catalyst for innovation and creativity in Nigeria. Advertisers have always championed the goal to be creative and innovative in their approach to stand out in a crowded market. This has led to the development of new techniques and technologies, which have benefited even sectors beyond the industry. We can recall, anytime Nigeria wants to rebrand as a country, ad practitioners are always drafted into the team for their talent in creativity. One could readily recollect the relevance of Lolu Akinwunmi in the last nation rebranding project packaged by a former information minister, The Late Dora Akunyili, under the government of the late President Yar’Adua. 

But despite these positive contributions and many others, the high point of any form of growth and achievement is best garnished with the darts of bullets or arrows you have overcome, the deadly traps you have escaped, and the hills and valleys you have crossed. Any advertising practitioner in Nigeria in the last 50 years when the industry has been regulated would be quite familiar with most of them.

Talent Retention War

While the reasons might differ, but employee turnover in Nigeria’s advertising industry has remained a huge challenge in the last 50 years and beyond. At a point, it was the desire of top creative minds to work outside of big agencies or start their own agencies. Later Clients and Fintech were pouching the outstanding players in most agencies.  Till now, the battle is never over. The biggest factor today is the “Japa” syndrome with Europe and Canada serving as the destinations of choice. This cycle has given the advertising industry a terrible track record in retaining quality talent.

Agencies have been consistently losing talent for quite a number of reasons such as “greener pastures” as a result of the pandemic which accelerated the talent drain in the ad industry as employees sought better pay packages, work-life balance, and growth opportunities. In the post-pandemic era, preserving talent emerged again as one of the key challenges for advertising agencies. The CEO of a popular agency told a close friend that a “trusted” staff he had an exciting brainstorming session in the morning, sent him a terse message around midnight of the same day that he was on his way to London and would not be returning soon. Now, if you have experienced any disappointment close to this level and today, you and your agency are still standing, why will you not spare some quality time to Klink some glasses?

Limited Human Resources

This is a first cousin of the above. Since the management of most agencies cannot identify whom to trust, they cannot afford to train people who may soon disappear. So the growth and efficiency of most agencies are massively hampered by a load of poorly trained personnel and those with zero training. For those who have individually and collectively tackled this, as they continue to train their staff despite the obstacles, kudos as we celebrate 50 years of regulated advertising practice in Nigeria.

Constant Policy Somersault

One of the major problems facing advertising in Nigeria is the lack of synergy and coordination between the arms of government and regulators. Rules and policies sometimes are changed at the speed of light. For instance, at one time foreigners are allowed to own agencies, then the percentage is reduced, then affiliations are nullified, and suddenly all your models must be black or Nigerian.

Sometimes you have to make multiple payments to the various arms or organs of government as the method of taxation and payment of dues are not harmonized. But you pushed through all these years and you are standing as organized advertising is 50. You really have a reason to celebrate.


There is a common saying that if you are not owed, then you are not in business. In Nigeria’s advertising industry, this issue of debt is at a different level. Just last year, a regulator had to intervene in a feud over debts worth billions of naira between Hayat Kimya and Mainsail Media Limited. Now, with the tribunal in place, hopefully, things will change. As a result of clients’ indebtedness, most of the agencies are reeling from crippling debts that threaten their survival. Indeed, some agencies have gone under because of debts. But despite this challenge, your agency is alive and kicking to witness AAAN celebrate 50 years. What can stop you now from clinking glasses?


Corrupt practices in the advertising industry are hydra-headed. From the supervising officer of the clients’ team who threatens and extorts using questionable and dubious underground dealings, to unprofessional behaviour of staff planning to steal juicy accounts, as well as those involved in direct theft, illegal conversion of company properties, and many others, the ad agency is always under threat. Sometimes this can continue unabated, consequently crippling the productivity and efficiency of the agency. But you stood your ground because you do not want to provide sub-standard services, or you discovered and truncated the efforts to pull the carpet under your feet and you are still standing. This is a strong reason to clink glasses and celebrate. 

Crazy Deadlines

Correct deadline estimation in itself is a complex thing to manage. But some clients just enjoy giving last-minute briefs which means crazy deadlines to deliver. Many agencies are unable to meet so many due dates, turning in deliverables out of time. This reflects poorly on clients and brands and can cost an agency important business down the line.

Poorly timed projects can ruin an agency’s credibility, or force the team to work overtime every time. None of those options has a happy ending for the agency. But you went through it not once or twice, and you are still standing and holding on to quality accounts. The least you can do is celebrate, especially when you are flying high as AAAN marks 50 years of existence.

Erratic Reworks

Many clients make it a habit to demand the reformulation of an already finished project. This means that most extra work is not included in the original fee. Reworks are a wrench in an agency’s optimization and moreover, they take time away from new projects that will actually bring in money.

You have tried to show the client huge resources those reworks are gulping, hoping that you can renegotiate the fee but they will not just bulge. And now, you pushed through and beyond that era. Just relax, unwind to celebrate. What a time to stay bouncing as your agency is alive and bouncing as well. Frankly, there is no better time and reason than this to celebrate.

There might be many other different hurdles agencies overcame in the last 50 years. They include the prevalence of fake advertising agencies and players who make false claims leading to confusion and loss of trust in advertising. There is also a lack of regulation and enforcement of advertising standards

Others are a season of poor client retention, low Profitability, a strong challenge from brand influencers, and “briefcase” agencies that are willing to offer ridiculously low bills and undercut serious agencies.

Whatever was your cross, as far as you and your agency are breathing, celebrate life. After these first 50 years, with faith and hard work, the glory of the later years will most likely be greater than the former. Congrats to AAAN. Please let the celebration continue.

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