Creative agencies in the age of new normal

The novel global COVID-19 pandemic has knocked the wind out of the sail of everyone globally; be it businesses, schools, health facilities, transportation, name it, forcing many around the world to rethink their daily lives.

The global economy was almost in complete lockdown. To stem the spread of the disease and keep some semblance of normalcy in order that the economy does not shut down completely in a locked down world, many turned to digital tools while working from home.

For the creative advertising industry, just like other businesses, never before has darkness hover over the horizon of creativity as it has been.

With the pandemic, the standard forms of communications and the ways things were done are gone. Not only did agencies serve their clients remotely, they have relied solely on digital platforms to deliver solutions to their clients.

With this latest development comes the realisation that the era of fancy offices, exotic cars and sleek impressive designer wears seemed to have gone with the pandemic after-shocks and fall-outs as businesses gradually crawl back to life.

However, in a world where standard rule for players is to think out of the box, the concern is what the face of the new normal should look like? Can imagination and creative wizardry pierce through the dark horizon to rev up businesses back to life? Can the creative minds show what is possible, prove their collective mettle in the present circumstance?

To find answers to queries on expectations of admen on emergence of a new generation of virtual ad agencies operation and how the surge in the use of digital would impact agency businesses in the new world order, three top creative players shared their perspectives with MARKETING EDGE ON TV.

 Bunmi Oke is an ad agency’s Amazon of many years’ experience. As the former president of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), former Chief Operating Officer of 141 Worldwide and now the Chief Executive Officer cum Lead Consultant at Ladybird Limited, a creative ad shop, Bunmi has seen it all on current realities in the advertising industry, she said, “Change is a constant in life and our profession to be modern and relevant to clients and customers must embrace change. Definitely agency operations at the back end  (creative , strategy and planning)had always been digitally led by up to 80% in the last  decade or so,  also interacting with global contacts, suppliers and collaborators online for years. What has changed in my opinion is the shift of the “front end” of the business online by up to 80%. Client meetings, presentations, briefs, payments and even pitches are now digitally driven, changing face to face contact to online methods via Zoom or Microsoft teams.

Speaking in the same vein, Chief Executive Officer at Strategic Outcomes Limited, Mr. Jenkins Alumona, said: “Business is not office just like church is not building. It is not important where our business is conducted from, whether it is from a ten story building or a hut. What is important is whether the business is capable to provide solutions to clients’ problems.”

He said that in the past when agency goes for pitches, clients go to inspect agencies’ offices where the agency was operating from but he revealed such a thing now belongs to the past.

“Going forward, offices are not important. What will matter is ability and capacity to crack the problems, provide solutions when something happens. Where the agency operates from, whether from home or the computer in his car, doesn’t matter.

In his own remarks, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), Lekan Fadolapo said right now agencies businesses are being done digitally. “Majority of our agencies are embracing technology. I read that Google and some global IT giants may not open offices till 2021 that their staff will be working from home. This means that geographical locations don’t matter anymore. What matters is productivity. I am seeing online platforms coming up. This will generally affect normal agency structure. Presentations will be done going forward without physical contact. You don’t need a big office to run agency business.

‘Digital will make allowance for a lot of improvement. It is going to reduce staff and cost. Support staff may not really be needed. It will allow one creative director to work for more than one client. Digital will definitely change the face of advertising in Nigeria.

“When people talk about big money, big office, what is the entry requirement of advertising? You don’t need big office or big car. Advertising business is not capital intensive. It is not finance but human capital driven. You don’t need big machinery but people who know their onion, who can deliver creative solutions to clients’ problems.

”It will no longer be business as usual. Innovate or you go out of business. It is going to take us time to settle post COVID-19 because it has changed a lot of things. For the Ad agencies to stabilise, the primary sector would have to stabilise first to be able to give us business. Clients don’t see us again as partners but as contractors. Therefore, our value proposition must have to change.


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