by Femi Otta. Since the establishment of WNTV Ibadan in Nigeria in 1959, the first television station in Africa, the growth of the advertising industry has continued unabated. In the 1980s, you could count the number of leading agencies on one hand; today, there are close to a hundred established registered agencies.

The Federal Government of Nigeria (through the Advertising Practitioners’ Registration decree number 55 of 1988) established the Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria (APCON) to regulate the practice of advertising in Nigeria. The council was inaugurated on 14 November 1989, a date which marked its birth as a principal actor in Nigeria’s advertising scene and established advertising as a profession. It can be said that, in the 2010s, the industry came of age.

The ability to adapt to changes is what determines whether an agency will survive or go extinct; after all, the mantra remains “innovate or die”. The changing times has caused some agencies to lose relevance and close doors; survivors are considered “champions of revolution in a tough terrain”.

Traditional media still king

Over the years, traditional media has grown to become the major platform to reach the target audience. Despite digitisation being the trend across the globe and the drive for O2O (offline to online) is all the rage, Nigerian culture has ensured traditional media remains relevant and inevitable.

Because of Nigeria’s population of over 180m and numerous brands (local and multinationals) which are constantly at war for survival, agencies have realised that what will matter beyond platforms is storytelling — compelling and empathic narrative that is relevant to the life and culture of Nigerian consumers. Not only will this attract their attention, it will invite them to participate.

Agencies have integrated ‘new media’ by deploying a through-the-line approach to marketing communications

Digital driving collaboration

Recently published figures rank Nigeria seventh out of the top 20 countries worldwide with the highest number of internet users. Gulp! This statistic is quite alarming and an eyeopener for marketing and advertising practitioners in Nigeria. It testifies to two things: (a) greater access to information and (b) more freedom to choose. Without mincing words, these two elements have handed over the control of media consumption to consumers, and no longer agencies. The new form of engagement is now “collaboration”.

For collaboration to be effective, marketing communication practitioners in Nigeria are developing skills in empathy — that is, being able to see with the eyes of the consumers, understand trends, feel their pulse and live their lives in a way that resonates with brands.

Another important dynamic of digital and social media platforms is the use of influencers. These individuals have been able to create incredible impact in the digital space amongst the Generation Z using comedy skits to get the attention of the audience. One example is @maraji, a 22-year-old lady who mirrors issues in society and transforms them into hilarious and relatable skits.

All adds up to opportunity

I strongly believe the advertising and marketing communications land is far greener than it was before. As online and social media become more popular, traditional media as a platform is undergoing metamorphosis; consider the rise of internet TV, internet radio, online newspapers and so on. This is happening at a time when macroeconomic factors are reducing demand for services and sponsorship, while also increasing costs.

The new landscape offers many opportunities. As internet access improves for more Nigerians, more channels to connect with consumers are rising. Nigeria’s entertainment industry and telcos are already taking advantage of these possibilities. Now is the time for practitioners to invest in growth, to shape and create an industry they can continue to be proud of, one that creates value for advertisers so that the brands can win (and business can grow). Hey, the land is GREENer here!


Femi OttaFemi Otta (IG:@femiotta) specialises in brand management and strategy. He is an account director at FCB DP Partnership in Lagos, Nigeria (a member of FCB Africa), where he is responsible for the leadership of major account management practice of the agency. African Echo seeks to unpack markets in Africa, highlight business opportunities and share insights into what works and what rebounds.

“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.

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