Ahead of UK House at Nigeria opening its virtual doors next Tuesday, September 28th at 11am LBB’s Laura Swinton spoke with speakers Lanre Adisa, MD & Chief Creative Officer, Noah’s Ark Communications and Michael Moszynski, CEO, London Advertising to look at the opportunities for the UK and Nigerian advertising industries to collaborate as the global economy recovers from the pandemic.
Nigeria's economy has become the largest in the continent and its creative industries are growing fast and quickly gaining international recognition. As the middle class in Nigeria rapidly expands this makes Nigeria an exciting opportunity for advertising businesses looking at growth over the next few years.
UK House at Nigeria is where UK and Nigerian advertising industries come together to meet and share ideas. It is a free event hosted by the UK Advertising Exports Group (UKAEG) in partnership with Cannes Lions, Department for International Trade and Chini Africa.
Join UKAEG online on September 28th at 11.00AM for 90 minutes of high-quality discussion and presentations by leaders and innovators from the UK and Nigerian advertising industry. Plus there’s networking to meet potential new business partners from across the UK and Nigeria. Sign up here.
LBB> How would you characterise the creativity of your respective markets?
Lanre> The Nigerian market is going through a transformation. The old order where formal traditional agencies held sway with an established pecking order is slowly giving way to a new age enabled by the digital revolution. The explosion in mobile and the multiplicity of platforms have made it easy for more young people to create content. A sizable amount of budget that would have gone directly to agencies is now going in other directions. In my view, it is an interesting time to be in business depending on how you see things. You really have to be on top of your game because the competition today is not just the agency down the street. One major consequence of this is that the wallpaper effect that we once derided in traditional advertising is equally pervasive in the digital space. It’s down to agencies to stand up for strong brand-building ideas in an age where everyone is thinking short term
Michael> London is the world’s true global city with over 250 languages spoken on our streets. Also, with our history as an outward facing, seafaring island we have learnt to do business with the rest of the world. And finally, with our great cultural heritage across all forms of creativity – from architecture, design, theatre and music – many clients across the globe see London as the best place in the world to develop global advertising. And that is why we named our agency ‘LONDON Advertising’.
LBB> Aside from Covid, what have been the main drivers of change in your respective market in recent years?
Michael> Every client wants more for less. Personally, I have no issue with that as that is the way of the world and requires continuous change and innovation in how we deliver. We created a global agency with one office in London and used the internet to disrupt how international advertising was produced. Since we set up in 2008, we have run ads in 135 countries – that is more than WPP has offices in.
The second major change is that too many clients say “we need to be ‘digital first’” and have destroyed huge amounts of brand value by taking their media spend out of broadcast media that are still proven to best build awareness.
Lanre> We noticed before Covid that there are not too many clients with big budgets anymore. I want to believe this is a global phenomenon, but it’s even more of an issue in an emerging market like Nigeria. In years gone by, there was a constant traffic of foreign production companies shooting in Nigeria. It was also very common for Nigerian agencies to shoot offshore, most especially in South Africa. What we see now is that dwindling budgets have forced most brands to shoot in Nigeria.
Fortunately, the local entertainment industry has been on an ascendancy. Nollywood today is evolving from quantity to quality. The production values are much better. In music, Nigerian musicians are going global, winning awards and touring major cities around the world. And with a very young tech-savvy audience like ours, this is a perfect match for creativity and collaborations. We can see the influence of these developments on our industry. However, we need to do more to stay relevant and connect with this new savvy audience.
LBB> For you, what are the main strengths of the talent in your market?
Michael> Creative problem solvers who can deploy experience from all over the world to help clients resolve business issues which they think are unique to them.
Lanre> We have a lot of young self-taught talent out there doing their own thing. As an industry, we are not doing enough to bring them onboard. These young people are street smart and self-aware. They live in a borderless world and are very entrepreneurial. They have a good understanding of the local environment. They are proudly Naija
. They have left Nigeria and all the negatives we associate with it to the older generation while recreating for themselves a new world and vibe called Naija. Youth culture is huge here as you’d find elsewhere. They influence a lot of things.
Having said that, there is a talent gap when it comes to advertising. We are not training enough people to come into the industry. Other markets that have developed have thriving advertising schools that keep their industries going. Here, only one or two individuals and the trade associations are doing the training. We need to be deliberate about attracting and retaining fresh talent. That is the only way to ensure we stay competitive and relevant.
LBB> What do you think Brits need to understand about Nigeria to work with the Nigerian market - and what do you think Nigerians need to understand about Britain to work with the British market?
Lanre> I think the first thing is to know that the Nigerian market is fast evolving. In the past the thinking was that the only way to produce anything of good quality was to go offshore. That is changing. It is not saying that we don’t need the Brits or anyone for that matter. What will work today is more collaboration. Like I said earlier, the local production scene is more vibrant. With the new audience we have today, a good understanding of local insights is very crucial. No matter how many platforms are available; no matter how easy it is for anyone to create their own content, one thing that will not change is the power of good storytelling and brand building. The UK has done tremendously well in this regard. There’s a lot in that treasure trove of experience that can help our local contexts attain global recognition. Our ambition is for the world to hear and value our stories. I believe this can happen through collaborations across the two markets.
Michael> I have been to Nigeria over 50 times and am incredibly proud of coming up with the telecoms brand Glo and the fact our advertising line for the brand is still being used 20 years later. This was only possible by understanding that Nigerians love nothing better than a robust intellectual debate where the more long words you can deploy the better. What Nigerians need to understand about the British is that we love to strip things back to their essence.
I have made countless friends from my time in Nigeria and have huge respect for the team at Cosse Advertising who we have partnered with for over two decades. We were able to blend local insight with our skills to create so many campaigns which touched the nation.
What I found so interesting was that despite the many different tribes, regions and languages of Africa’s most populous nation there was, despite all its trials and tribulations, still a strong sense of patriotism about ‘Nigeria’ the nation. That is why we based the brand identity for Glo around the national colours of green and white and the ad line “Glo with pride”. This was the first time a brand had rooted itself in national pride. Here is the launch commercial that we shot all over the country.
Wole Soyinka launch ad for Glo.mpg from LONDON Advertising on Vimeo.
LBB> Where do you think the most exciting potential for collaboration lies?
Lanre> It will have to start from agencies on both sides of the Atlantic seeking each other out on projects. Most times, agencies in the UK are sought out by local Nigerian clients. In today’s world brands with plans to come into a market like ours will most likely have agencies in markets like the UK. I think those agencies need to do their homework to find the right local partners. And they have to engage as partners with due respect for what they both bring to the table. The engagement will cover the whole gamut of brand building.
As regards the opportunities, it will make sense to follow the money. Today the opportunities are beyond advertising. It’s in branded content, reality shows and other forms of entertainment beyond the short form we are used to. There are loads of opportunities in content for the digital space.
The other huge opportunity I see is in training. I believe that this is one area where the UK can add a lot of value in our industry and the benefits from this will be mutual to both markets.
Michael> Nigeria, like the UK, also has a really rich cultural heritage and some of the most creative and entrepreneurial people on the planet. With the right encouragement internationally and domestically, Nigeria has the ingredients to become a leading global power. 50 years ago, China was not the country it is today, so there is a fantastic future for the country if people are willing to see beyond the challenges of today.
I have been tremendously fortunate in the people I have collaborated with in Nigeria, such as Yemi, Reno and Eta, but as the saying goes ‘you make your own luck’. From my side I hope I have been open and supportive of their views and input and avoided being seen as too arrogant even if I have not always taken their advice. What you definitely need is a good partner on the ground who knows how to get things done in what is a very challenging environment and I would recommend to any of my countrymen thinking of doing business there to be sure to contact Funmi Onabolu, CEO of Cosse, as a first port of call.
Our teams collaborated on the launch of a new, lower cost engine oil, Golden Super, to persuade people who were using palm oil in their cars and mopeds to upgrade to a product fit for purpose.
Not only was this habit terrible for the environment but equally bad for the longevity of their mode of transport. This campaign evolved seamlessly between our two teams so we can take joint honours. This execution came from our Nigerian colleagues’ insights about the ‘Ocada’ motorbike riders in Lagos and how everyone can have their dream. We simply transposed the end scene from ‘The Graduate’ into a very Nigerian setting.
conoil wedding.wmv from LONDON Advertising on Vimeo.
The Advertising Association works closely with the Department for International Trade to promote UK advertising around the world through the UKAEG community. This year their virtual strategy has secured new business for UK companies in our export community. For example, their efforts in China have secured over £21 million for companies in the community in the past 12 months.
UK House is heading on a world tour, hosting virtual opportunities to meet and hear from UK advertising. Dates for your diary include
September 28th – UK House at Nigeria – book here November 9th – UK House at Brazil – book here
November 23rd – Booking opening soon
With dates for Japan, Amsterdam, Australia, South Korea and many more to be announced shortly.