9mobile multi-billion naira media advertising business on toss

9mobile, hitherto Etisalat, a leading telecom company has thrown open its multi-million naira media advertising business for competitive pitch in a radical agency review move.

The incumbent was not given consideration because of the procedural disagreement of the business relationship while the honeymoon lasted.

However, a reliable industry source revealed that the reluctance of the new business owners to concede invitation to the incumbent may also not be unconnected with the fact that there is perceived belief in the paradigm shift in their media business strategy going forward.

Although past agencies were said to have been shortlisted and contacted, only four leading media shops eventually got invited and interviewed by a fifteen-man panel. The four leading agencies are Algorithm Media, a WPP affiliate, SBI Media, BrandEye and Universal McCann (UM). However, the incumbent agency handler, All Seasons Zenith Mediacom was left out of consideration.

It will be recalled that All Seasons Zenith Mediacom won the juicy-jumbo media business worth four billion naira (N4bn) five years ago following global account re-alignment by the Publicis Group which severed its affiliate relationship with Starcom Media, formerly a local affiliate of Mediavest International.

Consequent upon the severance of relationship by MediaVest, Starcom Media, equally a leading local media shop went ahead to resign the telecom business in July 2014, having worked on the brand for over a year.

Earlier, Starcom Media had won the account which was then known as Etisalat, through a competitive pitch that saw MediaReach OMD, a former handler of the account quitting the business after almost six years of engaging partnership. As a matter fact, it is on record that MediaReach OMD was the media shop that launched 9mobile into the competitive Nigerian telephony market.

Resigning the 9mobile account then, former Managing Director of Starcom Media, His Royal Highness Oba Ayo Kupoluyi had said that “it was time for the agency to disengage from the account having satisfied itself of a meritorious service delivery while the relationship lasted.

However, the takeover of the media business by All Seasons has been relatively uneventful as the client has not really done much in terms of media spend and activities. Reason being that the period the incumbent ware-housed the telecom brand business has been described by notable industry source as challenging because it coincided with the period of life-threatening ownership challenge by the company.

Indeed, All seasons Mediacom enthusiasm upon taking over the business was soon dampened with series of legal battles and rough tackles by the creditor banks who were hell-bent on converting the business in settlement for unpaid billions of dollar debts.

The case was finally resolved through the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as they eventually put up an interim management that sold the company following dissolution of the earlier board of directors. The company was eventually bought by Teleology Nigeria Ltd.

Our usually reliable industry source revealed that the proposed agency review that necessitated the on-going pitch exercise was not unconnected with the fact that the telecom company is now poised to relaunch itself back to relevance and contention.

A top insider who wants to be anonymous told MARKETING EDGE that it promises to be a new dawn altogether at 9mobile since the ownership matter has been resolved.

“We expect to see a new dawn at 9mobile since the ownership matter has been resolved. We are back to reckoning and we want to take our rightful position back,” the source hinted.

Speaking on the pitch exercise, Mr. David Olusola, a digital advertising executive in Lagos said that “the telecom brand’s decision to rejig its media and advertising efforts is a welcome development as the brand has a strong equity and very is popular and admired by the youth segments of the teeming Nigerian population”.

“9mobile has a very strong brand equity and highly revered by the youth segment”, so it is good for the brand to rev up its media advertising business so as not to lose this important demographic.

Commenting on the proposed agency review, a veteran media specialist Mr. Sola Ajibola said the need for agency review may have been informed by the client’s continued management and cost efficiency. The media practitioner stated that “these days, clients are no longer interested in the agency’s years of experience or personalities behind the organisations”, rather he said “clients are more cost conscious and value-driven”, hence what determines who wins what is the ability to cut costs and still manage the brands profitably.

Meanwhile, the new management of the telecom brand is led by Mr. Andrian Wood, pioneer Chief Executive Officer of MTN. Since taking over, the new management team has enhanced relationship with key vendors and core business account; improved business relationship and with suppliers as well as enhance its core network capability to deliver network efficiency competitively with other operators.

The company’s core strategy, in the short term to medium term, it was gathered, shall be underpinned by cost efficiency, innovate product development, network efficiency and strategic technical partnership.


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