Marketing Industry Ratings: NIMN battles MARKETING EDGE

What is happening to the marketing profession in Nigeria? Are industry regulators taking things too far or not doing enough? How do we know when the regulator has crossed the line? Should a regulator be interested in awards and ratings done by industry players for instance? Should a regulator be worried about who is being rated as ‘top” marketing professional by an industry publication, especially when that magazine is not subscribed to the industry body? Do you know that a regulator wants to tell clients how to pay agencies or media houses without a thought about the divergences of operations in different industries?

Recently, ARPA (The regulatory body for advertising in Nigeria) ran into a storm of protests when it released its last “iteration” of the ARPA code of practice, which virtually wants to take control of client agency payment matters. Since when did that become the job of a regulator? I am currently studying the full document before one can make full pronouncements although I am told they have already been challenged in court. How do these things improve the practice?

Now our dear NIMN (National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria) is dragging industry magazine, Marketing Edge, to the court of public opinion (See attached) and asking professionals to dissociate and disavow the publication and its industry rating of digital marketing professionals. It even seems miffed that the publication describes itself as a foremost marketing authority or something to that effect.

Well, what is if they are not? NIMN has not managed to produce a magazine for practitioners! Now this man (Marketing Edge publisher, John Ajayi), who by the way is a fellow of the same NIMN (They didn’t mention this) has spent 20 years publishing a magazine on the industry, warts and all. That’s no mean feat trust me I was there. The least you can do is to encourage a man like that.

A rating of practitioners is an opinion of their professional competence compared with industry peers. This is not a professional exam, it is an opinion of the editors of the magazine. How does that become problematic? The publisher is not just a member of the institute, he is a fellow. So he and his team can at least do an intelligent and competent assessment of marketing practice right? Mind you, his fellowship is not honorary, it is based on his work in marketing practice. Does that not give him the legal and professional competence to rate other marketing professionals?

I understand that NIMN is uncomfortable with the celebration of 10 digital marketers as top 10 when 7 of them are not listed by the NIMN as marketing practitioners. The optics are not good for the marketing body. But it is also revealing. Nevertheless, this issue can be raised with the individual practitioners. If they are practicing in abeyance of the law, well, deal with it. But it is pure chicanery to then say they cannot be rated as outstanding practitioners as opposed to outstanding NIMN registered practitioners.

Doing that will create another, even more fundamental problem as you end up with a list of second eleven pretending to be first eleven. You cannot discountenance the practice record of an agency who, for instance, developed and ran a campaign that achieved a set objective up to say 80% of target while listing an NIMN registered practitioner who scored 50% as the top dog in that same category. That will be absolutely false reporting.

The problem is not that of Marketing Edge. They do not register practitioners and do not regulate practitioners. All they do is report about the practice! No more no less. I would imagine that practitioners should scramble and proudly wear the identity of NIMN if that confers some level of credibility or equity to them. Why are 7 of the top 10 rated marketers not members of NIMN? And what has NIMN done about it in all these years? There must be a reason why a preponderant majority of rated practitioners are not interested in being members of the elite body of professional marketers in Nigeria.

As a fellow of the institute myself, I worry about that. I think our highly regarded president should worry about that question. Having done some worrying then he can mobilize his team and start working towards building the brand equity and stage presence of NIMN such that every marketing practitioner will want to belong to it and most credible clients will not take a second look at you if you do not belong to the NIMN. That’s the job that needs to be done.

On that note, I suggest that the NIMN should withdraw this very damning publication against one of the few surviving and consistent marketing magazines in Nigeria and see how they can start a campaign to enrol every credible practitioner in the body’s list. Marketing Edge, with its wide influence among practitioners, I assure you Mr President, will be a pillar of an ally in your campaign for every marketer to belong to the elite body of marketers in Nigeria. You will need their reach which spreads across both registered and none registered practitioners, you will need their data base of none registered practitioners and you will need them to gently pass the message across that NIMN frowns at rating of none registered practitioners. With their moral suasion based on their 20 years strong engagement with the people in question, I think you will achieve better results than this attempt to demoralise the Marketing Edge organization.

Beyond the immediate practice-related questions raised, there is also the important question of the right to free speech and right to expression. This can easily be interpreted as an attempt to muzzle the press and prevent them from doing an assignment that their readers desire and value. This is not to say that Marketing Edge and its ratings and awards are perfect. Or that they cannot improve on their own work. Definitely there is room for improvement. Perhaps they need to reduce the number of awards so as to improve the brand equity of the Marketing Edge awards. Perhaps they have to work more closely with the industry bodies so they can help to push the regulators’ agenda when it is in the interest of the industry at large.

Yes, things can improve and be improved. Our contention, however, is that they have proved to be a major contributor to industry growth through the dissemination of news, features and the organization of industry seminars and conferences, not to mention top industry awards.

Culled from Brand & Country


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