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Sustaining Economic Diversification Through Advertising

As the campaign for diversification of the Nigerian economy gains momentum due to fall in the price of oil, experts have identified advertising as a critical sector that can be further explored to boost the economy. Afolabi Idowu writes

Since the global oil price takes a down-ward turn, the story has never remained the same on the nation’s economic front which solely depends on revenues accruable from the sector. This has undoubtedly affected almost all businesses as the Naira also took a plunge. For players in the manufacturing sector, such situation has created more challenges.

To examine this challenge and proffer solutions from marketing communications industry, recently, Marketing Edge, a leading marketing and advertising publication in the country organized a national marketing summit and engaged practitioners on the way forward.

In line with the theme of the summit; ” A New Roadmap for Marketing Business in the Age of Global Oil Glut,” the experts unanimously agreed that the Nigerian spirit in Nigeria’s advertising landscape can be recreated as has been done in the entertainment industry particularly in the face of dwindling fall in oil price. Aside issues related to dwindling fall in oil price, organisers of the event also factored in devaluation of the naira and unemployment of Nigerian youths before settling for the topic.

The chairman of the event, former governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi pointed out the importance of advertising to national rebirth and positioning of the Nigeria project. Fayemi, who was represented by the former Director General of the state’s Bureau of Strategic Communications, Mr. Kayode Akinyemi, expressed his concern over the shortfall in data and analytics in the industry and urged practitioners to collaborate by coming up with a data bank needed to drive a clear cut agenda for the industry. He said: “There is a dearth of data and analytics which will be useful to the industry in Nigeria and this is part of the reason that the politicians have no clear cut agenda for the industry.”

Earlier, the Publisher of Marketing Edge, Mr. John Ajayi had stated that the event was part of his organisation’s resolve to continue to beam the searchlight on the industry most especially now that the nation’s economy was going through its worst period.

He said the summit was organised to galvanise professionals in the industry to explore new frontiers in the light of the urgent necessity to diversify the economy due to oil glut. Ajayi also added that the summit would help practitioners brainstorm on the way forward with a view to providing roadmap that is achievable and guarantees its relevance.

The lead speaker was the pioneer registrar of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), and a senior lecturer at the Pan-Atlantic University, Dr. Josef Bel-Molokwu. He spoke against the backdrop of the challenges posed by the dwindling fortune of the economy as well as the fall in price of oil in the international market and emphasised the need for marketing communication industry to rise up to combat the challenge.

The former APCON Chief Executive Officer noted that it was significant that marketers begin to take the lead by urging government to diversify the economy in the face of the oil glut stating that sooner oil would become a commodity of the past. According to him, it behoves on experts in the marketing field to set the agenda that would open new markets in the direction of other intangibles, which have been left untapped over the years instead of continued reliance on oil.

While admitting the role played by marketing in other developed markets on account of fierce economic challenges, he urged marketers in the country to take a cue by responding quickly to the imminent threat posed by dwindling crash in oil price through productive thinking and innovation.

Bel-Molokwu however suggested some ideas, which marketers must take heed to in order to succeed some of which include Content Marketing and Publishing, mass customisation, story +telling, internet outdoor, heritage, films among others.

He argued that it was the right time for marketers to take their rightful place stating that excuse would no longer be permitted as it was witnessed when the nation could not latch on era of production and technology.

Acknowledging some of the failings experienced by Nigeria and other countries in the region which have left them behind compared with other developed countries, Molokwu said it has become imperative for Africans including Nigeria to situate their problems with a view to finding solutions based on each country priority list

He said: “Nigeria is, by several measurement parameters, ranking high among the vulnerable countries and regions.

Nigeria, nay Africa, may need to take a new view of its orientation and approach to technology, research, development and production. There is a serious need to independently develop own prototypes from own concepts based on inherent priority needs. The road to patent independence is through the path of developing and pursuing economic, fiscal and orientation independence. Nigeria and its African brothercountries must get off the laps or leash of any country or region”.

Bel-Molokwu further argued that in an era where Nigerians seem to be less concerned about production, attention should now be shifted towards creating a national ideation centre that would drive innovative thinking geared towards making the country a productive nation rather than a consumptive economy.

“There should be thought towards the creation of a secluded national Ideation centre, with working groups in states and local government areas. For me, I think the responsibilities would now be for select experts in critical research, development and production to be isolated and given specific pertinent thinking tasks. From these, manufacturing hubs could spring forth based on the inherent industrial capacities of each area, supported by existing, often under-utilized, plants.”

He also emphasised on the need for locals to instinctively use or harness their creative instincts in the interest of country’s economy growth other than contributing to brain drain as has been witnessed in time past.

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