IMC experts share how agencies survived Nigeria’s economic recession

IMC experts share how agencies survived Nigeria’s economic recession

Despite the announcement that Nigeria’s economy is officially out of recession, the impact and threat of this dreaded monster still looms high in the market. In Nigeria, brands, manufacturers and service businesses have been battling intensely for survival in the last two years or so.

Even with the relevance of critical marketing communication instruments like PR, Branding, Media, Marketing and other adjuncts that brands need to stay operational, we have seen a consistent reduction in both the size of budgets and number of activations/campaigns undertaken. selected a few seasoned analysts to feel their pulse on how some agencies are able to survive and even thrive during this period while others fall by the wayside and how agencies can survive challenging times like economic recession.

According to a few analysts, the business of marketing communications is business; hence, mediocrity would not sustain it under any given economy. They maintained that despite the bashing from the recession, innovations, resilience and ability to diversify in business offerings and portfolios remains the driving force and key to remaining in business in the industry.

Mr Bolaji Okusaga, Managing Director, Quadrant Company.
Mr Bolaji Okusaga, Managing Director, Quadrant Company.

Mr Bolaji Okusaga, Managing Director, Quadrant Company.

The truth is that we need to build resilience into the business. The situation where one client will account for about 70% of your total billing is very risky. A lot of companies that were affected as a result of the recession were people who have very high concentration resource. Once you find that the client that accounted for the major part of their billing left as a consequence of the recession, many agencies could not survive but for those with more diversified portfolio, and more diversified product offering, are able to survive even though they got some bashing too.

But I will advise that portfolios have to be properly diversified, product offerings too have to be properly diversified such that you are able to tap into all manner of offerings to stay ahead on the business side.

IMC experts and Nigeria’s economic recession
Mrs Olubunmi Oke, CEO/Lead Consultant, Ladybird Advertising Ltd.

Mrs Olubunmi Oke, former President of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, AAAN, a past Chairman of LAIF Awards and CEO/Lead Consultant, Ladybird Ltd.

Just like all things in life, the foundation of an agency and the ‘professional foundation’ of the agency human capital therein, make all the difference when the ‘winds blow’!!

Great professional business relationships and cogent skills will separate successful clients and successful agencies alike. Just like great brand equity helps sustain consumer loyalty amongst great brands of products or service, from mere commodities during trying periods; the ‘brand equity’ of agencies and professionals with great ‘professional equity’ will be become critical for business survival.

Agencies that survive also keep to their ‘brand promises’ in terms of deliverables…not much room for mediocrity as clients business is a business…..not a charitable organisation with time bound marketing communication objectives, that must be measured, met and paid for!!

IMC experts and Nigeria’s economic recession
Mrs Tope Jemerigbe, Managing Director, DKK Nigeria.

Mrs Tope Jemerigbe, Managing Director, DKK Nigeria

Some have argued that Nigeria has been in recession since independence, and there are ample reasons for this argument. Also, some believe that agencies’ best years ended with the Soludo 25 billion banks capitalization era. That was when there was a boom resulting from the many IPO campaigns that were thrown at agencies. Truth is from time to time, Agencies operate under very though conditions.

However, in the last couple of years, it’s become even more challenging for agencies. To survive, agencies have had to rejig their business modules. Some took the easy route. They laid offstaff and resorted to taking in freelancers when necessary.

Others, however, took a more robust approach, which in some cases involved streamlining their operations, optimize their new business drive, even going as far sourcing for businesses

opportunities outside Nigeria. It might interest you to know that a few agencies have opened up shops in Cameroun and Equatorial Guinea and a few other countries in Africa. Interestingly, agencies are becoming more dynamic.

It’s the way we can survive. They have the recession to thank for that. Many no longer sit, waiting for clients’ brief. They actually go out to get the briefs or as some would do, generate the brief for the clients, create content and so on. It’s all about innovating ways to triumph in these trying times.

IMC experts and Nigeria’s economic recession
Mr Sola Fijabi, Principal Partner, Brooks + Blake


Mr Sola Fijabi, Principal Partner, Brooks + Blake

Innovation and ability to add value beyond the regular is key. Innovation  include improving the internal process or service offerings to a client, while  adding value is about going beyond the brief in search of value areas within the scope of marketing communications, with keen interest on improving the client’s bottom line.

This has helped Brooks +Blake and other agencies who dare to win fairly despite the odds.



IMC experts and Nigeria’s economic recession
Mrs Mojisola Saka, Chief Operating Officer, SoulComm Publicis Nigeria.

Mrs Mojisola Saka, Chief Operating Officer, SoulComm Publicis Nigeria

The period of economic recession was a challenge for many companies in Nigeria. It was characterized by a shrinking economy, slow business activities and lower than expected incomes. Smart companies had to devise pragmatic ways to utilize limited resources for maximum benefit. Agencies were not insulated from the challenges as many had to deal with reduced marketing budgets from clients who were trying to minimize cost but retain impact.

The scenario meant that for Agencies to survive, they must embrace innovation, creativity, pro-activity and find ingenuous ways to add value to the client’s business. Clients are naturally attracted to Agencies that they view not only as value adding but partners and that is key to remaining in business.

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