FOR participants and attendees, at the webinar, organized by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), it was an opportunity for the nation’s integrated marketing communication (IMC) industry to review happenings in the industry, over the past twelve months, preview the next twelve months, and chart the way forward.
Interestingly, a common trait ran through all the presentations of the webinar’s resource persons, comprising the Guest Speaker, Dr. Ken Onyeali-Ikpe; and the panelists, Mr. Steve Babaeko, Mr. Dele Odugbemi, Mr. Tony Akinotu, and the moderator, Mrs. Hannah Oyebanjo. They all agreed that the events of the past twelve months, especially the public health crisis, COVID 19, had brought with it huge disruptions. It can, therefore, no longer be business as usual. Any practitioner, desirous of being in business, must be ready to adapt to these changes.
For instance, while delivering his paper, that had its thematic focus woven around navigating a world disrupted, the guest speaker argued that it had become imperative for practitioners to begin to thread the road never -travelled for such practitioner to remain relevant.
Dr. Ikpe added that while there are different types of roads for practitioners, such as the road well- travelled, the road less- travelled, the road never- travelled, he however argued that the road never- travelled remains the most viable options, for practitioners desirous of navigating the disrupted world practitioners had found themselves.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of Insight Redefini stated that the disruptions being experienced in the industry today had made it imperative for agencies and practitioners to be ‘soulution’ providers to their clients.
“What I’m saying in essence is that you must be ready to provide ‘soulution’, that is an answer that has a soul to your client’s problems, instead of the regular solution,” he stated.
He also stressed the need for practitioners to aspire to always think about staying relevant.
“If I were to deliver this lecture, some years ago, perhaps I would have been talking about how to consolidate our businesses, and other things. But what is happening today sometimes make me wonder whether we even have any business to consolidate. I think our major concern, as practitioners, should be how to stay relevant,” he added.
According to him, one of the ways to achieve that is for practitioners to make the enhancement of his product quality his utmost priority.
“As a CEO, what is the most important thing to you? I know some would say profit. But the fact remains that for you to continue to be relevant, your priority should be how to enhance your products. It is when you have a product that can stand competition that you can remain relevant,” he stated.
The former president of Media Independent Association of Nigeria (MIPAN) also believed agencies must also develop a start-up mentality, to enable them cut cost and avoid unnecessary waste.
He also counseled agencies on the need to incentivize their skilled personnel in order to win such staff’s ‘pity’, instead of his loyalty.
“For instance, the public health crisis we are experiencing today has made majority of the staff to work from home. Interestingly, that is not without its challenge. Some of your highly skilled staff may be working for another organization without you knowing, and that is why it is better to incentivize them so that they can have pity on you,” he stated.
Speaking at the event, the president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Mr. Steve Babaeko expressed the belief that the ongoing sanitization of the industry, by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), and the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Agreement), flagged off in January, would go a long way in enhancing the fortune of industry, this year.
He however counseled practitioners on the need to embrace collaboration, while also thinking about the 3Cs – Cost, Credit and Cash to stay competitive.
Another speaker, Mr. Dele Odugbemi believed the public health crisis was not without its lessons for the industry.
Odugbemi, who is the Country Director, JC Decaux Gracelake Nigeria, however advised on the need for practitioners to always have the future in mind, while investing in technology.
“When you are investing in technology, do so with the future in mind. When we were investing in technology then, we thought it was just for networking, and purely office use, we never envisaged a time would come so soon, when we will be using it remotely, as we doing now,” he stated.
For Tony Akiotu, Group CEO, DAAR Communications, besides innovation, it had become imperative for chief executives to try and win the trust of their workforce.
“Besides innovating and investing more in technology, what we also did was to enter into a trust agreement with our staff, by doing that we were able to elicit their support for a salary review to make the company stay afloat,” he added.
The Registrar/Chief Executive of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Dr. Lekan Fadolapo, in his welcome address, explained that the webinar had become imperative to enable practitioners chart a new course in a disrupted world.
“The COVID 19 pandemic is a shock like no other, involving simultaneous disruption to both supply and demand in an interconnected global economy. The Nigeria IMC industry is not left out in the paradigm shift. We are not immune to this disruption in economic activities; hence our decision to secure the valuable time of a team of experts in IMC and advertising to review the general activities of the industry in 2020 as well as project the business outlook for 2021,” he added.
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