Ad practitioners proffer solutions to business challenges, re-strategise for growth

The 46th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) came to a grand close last weekend in Lagos. For the delegates, most of whom were drawn from several advertising agencies belonging in the fold of the glamorous association, it was a long desired opportunity and a right platform to come together to jointly deliberate and proffer enduring solutions to the multifaceted industry challenges that have for long militated against the  growth and development of the sector.

The 2019 AGM themed “The War Within, Solutions for Survival” was originally scheduled to hold last July in Asaba, Delta State, but was postponed owing to some very disturbing circumstances that went beyond the association’s control.

An Air Peace plane conveying delegates comprising mainly of leaders of the glamorous association to Asaba for the AGM had to make a forced return to Lagos as it could not successfully land at the Asaba Airport due to very unfavorable weather conditions leading to the rescheduling of the AGM three months later, this time around in Lagos.

The re-scheduled AGM which happened at the Orchid Hotels,  Lekki, serene axis of Lagos  provided the most convivial atmosphere for members of the association to express their gratitude to God for what would have otherwise been a major disaster in Asaba but was averted. It also provided a platform to re-strategise on the way forward for the practitioners and the creative industry in general.

For the Association’s President, Ikechi Odigbo, it was not just an occasion for thanksgiving to God for preserving the life of members and for giving them grace to forge ahead despite the damning challenges, rather he used the occasion to explain the regrettable Asaba events and reeled off the import of the September rescheduled meeting, including the thoughts that informed the AGM theme.

In a rather very emotional opening remark to the delegates, Odigbo recalled the near perfect preparations and a huge investment that was put into the aborted Asaba AGM, billed to attract considerable interest and patronage of Delta State Government, but noted above all that the association had every cause to be grateful to God.

According to him, just as it was the experience across every other sector of the national economy, the advertising industry was indeed in doldrums, with probably about 70 to 80 percent of the member agencies going through real difficult times in terms of being able to sustain their businesses, meet their various obligations and at the same time record some measure of growth.

This he said was the thinking that informed the articulation of this year’s theme and the choice to bring one of the industry’s most respected and highly revered intellectual personalities, the erudite Jimi Awosika, Vice Chairman, Troika Holdings to explore the theme.

Awosika, in his usual and highly intellectual fashion took the audience of key advertising practitioners through the long evolution of the history of  Nigeria’s advertising industry, highlighting what he termed stages  in the development ladder  from the era  of “cat and horse” through to  the “diesel engine” era and now to the present order of the digital transformation.

For the Troika boss, the challenges confronting  practitioners in the industry  was centred around the need for  today’s advertising industry  players to continually reinvent the wheels for themselves and to ultimately  find answers to  the identity  questions of “Who Are We” What Visions Do We Have” and What Value Offering Are We Bringing To The Table?”

According to him, for the industry to overcome its pressing challenges of the present day and come back to reckoning, players in the industry needed to show greater relevance and at the same time strive to adapt themselves to the current realities of the business which is the fact that the future of the creative industry lies squarely in the hands of the upcoming generation. He believes the digital revolution is real and has come to be.

For Chairman of the AGM planning committee, former AAAN president and former Managing Director,  LTC Walter Thompson, Bola Thomas, agency practitioners need not to despair and submit to defeat, but should rather brace up to current challenges and look ahead with greater vigour, realising that no challenges in business were new in Nigeria. He recalled that the ad industry had shown so much resilience in the past, having evolved over time, hence the industry could in no way go into extinction because it had survived through even more difficult challenges in times past.

The AGM panel of discussants which included eminent industry personalities such as Steve Babaeko, MD/CEO, 3XM Ideas; Lanre Adisa, MD/CEO, Noah’s Ark and Bunmi Oke, former AAAN president among others were all united in their views that for the advertising industry to jump out of the woods and overcome its present myriads of professional challenges, agencies must think towards forging a workable and  realistic collaboration and move away from the present conversations that border around survival but rather embrace a new paradigm shift that must focus on the possibility of how to  thrive and emerge a stronger force in the business locally and internationally.


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