The creativity in the Nigerian ads industry cannot be said to be the same as in the early 80’s and 90’s said industry practitioners. The reality, which is currently steering the industry practitioners, clients and professionals in the face, has raised quite a number of criticisms.
In the past 3 years of the locally organised Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival (laif), only a handful of agencies have picked grand prix. In fact, top agencies such as Insight Publicis, DDB Lagos, SO&U, Prima Garnet and STB McCann have not won a grand prix in the last 2 years.
Only the X3M and Noah’s Ark are the2 agencies that have shown great creativity. This was judged by the follow practitioners and competition.
The growing ebb in advertising copies otherwise seen as creative has caused some disquiet among the clients (corporate organisations). Some have opening complained to their marketing service agencies over poor works however still stay with them because there is nowhere to go.
However some of the factors attributed to this current challenge are technology, lack of patience on the part of employees to stay and learn, poaching by the clients, and use of pidgin.
Besides these, the era of great copies seems to have gone with the times. Those who are still in the industry may remember some copies such as ‘Turn to Star… the ideals brew’, ‘Omo washes brighter….and it shows’, ‘Guinness Black is Beautiful’, Joy Toilet Soap..Your special beauty treatment’ and ‘Power Stout- Have a taste of power..you’ll love it.”
These copies were followed with fantastic visuals. The era of less brand ambassador television commercial, painstaking fine art learn, good grammar laden copies and copies that transform brands and created campaigns.
Describing the criticism as controversial, the former Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria’s Chairman/Group Managing Director of Prima Garnet Africa, Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi said that there is no standard copy.
According to him “Copy is a means and medium of expression for ideas. Copy is either appropriate or not.”
The Nigerian advertising industry has been described as being at it lowest ebb. The Producer/Presenter of Brand World TV, Ms Clara Chinwe Okoro said the loss of professionalism, the gross language deployed as copies, the overuse of Pidgin English as a means of communication as reduced a once thriving and enviable industry to its dregs and brought it to its knees, there is urgent need for training of copywriters in the industry, she said.
The Managing Director of Towncrier, Kayode Olagesin, who started advertising with Cosse TTL, agreed that creativity in Nigeria advertising has taken a dive.
“The problem we have today is zapping. There is not that much depth to anything. We go usually for the first thought that comes to mind, art direct it and off it goes to client who actually precipitated the rush in the first instance. Poor planning leads to late briefing with little or no time for the agency to distil and crack the brief. The result is that we create ads but we don’t have enduring campaigns that people recall,” Olagesin stated.
Justifying the slang infusion in the ads copy in Nigeria, Akinwunmi said that copy evolves as part of communication culture. Copy is affected by language and cultural development.
Former APCON boss said “Lately we have had the development of slangs and this has impacted especially on radio in pidgin and local languages. Perhaps the only difference is that we had better trained and more exposed and experienced creatives. I can’t say that much for many of the current crop of creatives who don’t even stay long in any agency to fully learn the ropes.”
On improving the quality of advertising copy to compete with South Africa and Kenya, Akinwunmi disagreed on the notion that Kenya and SA have bettered Nigeria.
He said “I don’t think this comparison is necessary. There is no proof that a country like Kenya produces better creatives. I think the issue to focus on is to integrate and invest in training relevant to our local needs. We have had reasons to re-write creatives from both countries and have pitched against some of their best agencies and bested them.”
Advertising is aspirational, and if the industry decides to end the downward trend it should go back to drawing table. Ms. Okoro posited.
“If we decide that enough is enough and go back to the drawing table, we can identify when the rot set in, what the causes were and if there are solutions to deploy to effect this turnaround. Clients should desist from poaching staff of creative agencies.”
Olagesin however said “I simply won’t use South Africa and Kenya as a benchmark. South Africa perhaps on account of the sophistication of their production environment but I do believe we have the talent to do really great work if we simply go back to doing the simple things well.”
He encouraged copywriters to imbibe the time tested principles of the business. “We should go back to time tested principles, copywriters and art directors should still put thought on paper first, scamp and thin through the idea before they hit the computer. These days they go on the computer and start looking for images and then the words that go with it.
“If we discourage zapping and give more time for ideas to be properly refined whilst creating our own unique identity then our advertising will compete favourably with the world as our music is currently doing,” he said.