APCON, practitioners chart way forward in the new normal

The Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) organized a virtual meeting among advertising practitioners and other regulatory agencies to discuss pertinent issues concerning the industry. Top on the agenda was the dwindling fortunes of practitioners amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to position the industry for life after the crisis. The theme of the meeting was ‘Marketing Communications Business Sustainability in the post Covid-19 Era’ and the virtual session had panelists such as George Thorpe, Emeka Okeke, Lolu Akinwunmi, the C.E.O of Prima Garnet, Ifeanyinwa Onokwuba, an Out of Home Advertising expert and Dr. Kachi Onubogu, a sales and marketing expert.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Akinwunmi highlighted the impact of the pandemic on the global economy, positing that the local economy had also been worse hit, considering the reduction in economic activities due to the nationwide lockdown.

In his words: “The agencies are seriously affected because clients’ businesses aren’t doing very well. The people’s spending habit has also changed as people were more concerned about surviving and were only buying essentials.”

He also suggested that the regulatory agency should invest in technology in order to be in tune with current realities.

“Efficiency plays a major role to shape the relationship of clients with the practitioners. With a lean financial purse occasioned by the pandemic, most brands will properly determine a cost-benefit analysis for project. The client’s needs would go a long way to determine the cost negotiation. As a result of the pandemic, there will be job losses and in dealing with their retained staff and agencies, a lot will be expected from them,” Mr. Akinwunmi said.

Also speaking, Dr. Onubogu noted that agencies should try to find out what a client needs and what they are doing to determine cost.

“The out of home sector of the marketing communication industry enjoys some foreign innovation in doing its business. This innovation has come with a huge financial toll on the clients that may not be affordable to them during this period, hence the need to look inward and use local tools,” Dr. Onubogu said.

On her part, Mrs. Onokwuba said the outdoor sector would have to brace up as there would be job losses occasioned by changes in their business structure.

Mr. Okeke, in his in-depth analysis posited that agencies would have to think out of the box to key in into the innovation that became a norm as a result of the global pandemic. Change, he said, will have to be backed up by strategies of survival.

“To survive in this new reality, agencies must evolve as total solution agencies that will transform from providing linear communication to strategic communication solutions.”

Mr. Thorpe talked about the importance of research to navigate the post Covid-19 era, and understanding what the market requires. Strategic thinking and leadership, he said, would go a long way to reposition the agencies to balance their books.

The role of the regulatory agency, APCON in the survival strategies of the marketing communication industry cannot be overemphasised. In the end, participants of the webinar, including representatives of APCON and the practitioners all agreed that there was a need for a paradigm shift in the way APCON deals with the practitioners.

Mr. Akinwunmi, a former president of APCON, suggested that there should be “new normal” in the way APCON does its business away from the old way of just vetting.


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