Roads, Research and Big Brother Naija: Nigeria advertising post-Covid-19

By Ronan Redmond

We are now six months into the pandemic and for the first time we can begin to take stock and navigate a route away from the economic carnage of the past half year. As Commercial Director at TVC Communications, Nigeria’s leading Entertainment and News Broadcaster, and as I make plans for the months ahead there are three variables which, perhaps surprisingly, give me hope for optimism: ROADS, RESEARCH and BIG BROTHER NAIJA!

Roads: investment in proper infrastructure is very necessary to drive economic growth

Jobs (and consumption) are driven by Manufacturing and Exporters. Manufactures and exporters are challenged by in many ways: the ongoing energy crisis as power supply and gas supply are inconsistent, the rail network does not link to ports, and in general the major roads are in various states of disrepair. It is estimated that Nigeria will need to pump US$100billion into infrastructure over next six years to plug holes, but Federal Government has little fiscal wiggle room due to: oil price crisis, Covid -19 and the unprecedented economic downturn. Exporters remain challenged by the closure of the Nigeria and Benin borders, was due to be for one month only, which remains in place and is leading to an inflation rate of 12.56% in June.

However, as frustrating as Lagos traffic congestion currently is since the partial closure of the Third Mainland bridge, I am optimistic that this very necessary capital work by the Federal Government is timely. I applaud the ongoing infrastructure work being carried out by the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. I believe these efforts will ultimately create the right environment for economic growth in the years ahead. Hopefully then the recently reported negative GDP figures will be a distant memory as Nigeria reverts to growth next year.

Broadcast Audience Research: Nigeria must move to a new and world-class system

Independent audience research is the “currency” by which spot advertising is traded in all markets. The current Audience Measurement System (AMS) is two decades old, which still uses the old diary method (pen & paper) of collecting data on TV viewers and radio listeners across key locations in Nigeria. Large advertisers expect more robust research data prior to making substantial investment decisions. The Honorable Minister Lai Mohammed has said that the absence of a world-class Audience Measurement System has resulted in under-investment in the broadcast advertising sector and stunted its growth, unlike the Nigerian film, music, and fashion industries which have grown significantly over the past decade. According to the Minister, Broadcast advertising could generate an additional $400 million for Nigeria within the next three years if the new Audience Measurement Report is implemented.

I am optimistic and pleased that the advisory panel set up by the Minister to make recommendations on the audience research, includes amongst others leaders from large Media Agencies such as Media Reach OMD who manage the advertising fortunes of Global and National advertisers here in Nigeria. Media leaders such as these will understand and “champion” the need for an International standard of audience measurement to grow the Nigeria advertising sector. I have commented extensively before that I believe the Nigeria advertising sector should contribute more to GDP. However, with the ongoing review of the industry research I am more positive that the necessary changes will be actioned and will help halt the decline in the size of the Nigeria advertising sector since 2016.

Big Brother Naija (BBN): fulfilling audiences and advertisers demand for branded content

Big Brother Naija (BBN) on DSTV & GOTV is setting and raising the bar every year for brand advertisers and the Nigeria advertising sector in general. This year despite the dramatic economic downturn, BBN has captured circa N1.5billionin advertising investment across12 weeks from all the major International and National Advertisers including: Betway, Guinness, Pepsi, Tolaram Group, etc. This is before the very substantial revenues are calculated for telecoms voting which is heavily advertised and scrolled on screen non – stop. This massive investment by advertisers all happens because audiences want to engage with great entertainment content and consumer brands want to be where the audiences are. Big Brother Naija simply reflects the marketing communications move by brand advertisers away from traditional spot adverts to: branded content, sponsorship, and product placement as the preferred means of reaching consumers.

Branded content has finally arrived BIG TIME in Nigeria and I applaud that and welcome it. However, as a commercial broadcaster I request a “level playing field” and for that I need the regulators to understand the new consumer and commercial trends and the changing advertising landscape. In the past three years, TVC Communications has invested US$ Millions in: studio sets, the latest cameras and HD tech, and in the very best Nigeria media talent.  Each day of the year TVC our terrestrial entertainment channel broadcasts eight hours of the best home – produced entertainment from our studios off CMD Road, Lagos. The viewers adore TVC and over 4.5 Million viewers tune in daily making TVC the number one terrestrial channel in Lagos. These great entertainment shows are produced by TVC and our talented and hard working staff to allow advertisers engage in branded content on terrestrial TV in Nigeria. Every Naira earned from advertising on TVC is reinvested back into TVC Communications to directly employ 600 Nigerians and support a wider local ecosystem of approx. 6,000 – 10,000 individuals and a multitude of local businesses and service providers.

Unfortunately, TVC is prohibited by the regulators to do what DSTV / GOTV are doing with Big Brother Naija. This is perplexing as TVC Communications exclusively invests 100% of every Naira earned from advertising bookings back into the Nigeria economy.TVC is not permitted to offer comparable on – air advertising and brand promotion services to advertisers and this places TVC the leading Nigerian terrestrial entertainment channel at a huge commercial disadvantage to International competitors operating in this market.  Surely as huge efforts are ongoing to grow the local advertising sector such a “dual standard” situation cannot pertain?

I am optimistic that this anomaly can be corrected, that the regulator will create the level playing field, and that terrestrial broadcasters like TVC will be permitted to respond to the changing viewer consumption habits and the changing advertiser needs. Regulation is welcome but the regulation must reflect a changing and an evolving media landscape.

In conclusion, I have long advocated that the Nigeria advertising sector has very real potential for growth, to contribute more to GDP, and to close the gap in terms of size with the South Africa advertising market. Addressing the issues around: Roads, Research and Big Brother Naija helps and will propel the sector forward to a better advertising future.

Author: Ronan Redmond, Commercial Director, TVC Communications


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