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LAIF 2013,  not too golden for advertising

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Though the dust raised at the recently held Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival (LAIF) is beginning to settle, this may not necessarily apply to the memories evoked by the event, organised by Advertising Agencies Association of Nigeria (AAAN)  to celebrate creativity in the nation’s advertising industry.

Interestingly, one factor that made this year’s edition, which is the eight in the series unique, is that it marked the 40th anniversary of the association.

According to the association’s president, Mrs Bunmi Oke, the award instituted in 2006 by the association provides an avenue and platform for celebration of great ideas as well as recognition of marketing communication excellence.

While many stakeholders would agree with the rationale behind the award, not a few believe that the excellence and creativity it aimed at celebrating are fast dwindling as evident in the results of the awards.

For instance, 21 agencies competed for Gold, Silver and Bronze in the four main categories of press, outdoor, radio and television, in this year’s edition of the award.

Besides, out of a total of 76 medals won, six  were gold, 28 silver and 45 bronze medals, lending credence to the claim in some quarters that it was not really a golden year for advertising.

Out of 129 medals available in last year’s edition, 77 were picked, recording the same number of gold medals.

For instance, the gold hauls could not be increased from last year’s number, according to a member of the LAIF panel that screened the works, because such works never met the cut off marks that would have qualified them to be in the gold category.

Perhaps, the drop from 77 medals recorded last year  to 76, this year, and the emergence of some relatively new agencies, Noah’s Ark and X3M Ideas, among the top three on the medal table could go a long way in authenticating the claim of dwindling creativity, especially among the super agencies in the industry.

Besides Insight which still managed to maintain its leadership position with four  gold, nine silver and 10 bronze medals, it was a different story for DDB Lagos and 141, toppled from their traditional second and third positions respectively on the medals table by Noah’s Ark and a relatively new agency, X3M.

 In 2011, DDB Lagos amassed a total of 15 medals- three gold, seven silver and five bronze medals, while also retaining the position the following year with a total of 24 medals – one gold, 10 silver and 13 bronze medals.

141 Worldwide, occupied the third position with one gold and six other medals in 2011, the same feat was recorded in 2012.

Are we witnessing a rebirth in the industry? Are the old agencies giving way to the younger ones? How positive is this latest development?

Akinwunmi Dickson, a brand analyst and writer, would rather see the new development as very positive for the industry.

While he would not agree with the claim that creativity is dwindling in the industry, he would prefer to see the emergence of new agencies on the medal table as a rebirth for the industry.

“What we are witnessing presently, as shown in the results reeled out at LAIF Awards, is the emergence of the real creative guys in the industry. Advertising thrives on creativity, and the fact that we are seeing the relatively young agencies displacing much older ones on the medal table is an attestation to that fact,” he stated.

Dickson may not be wrong after all. The older agencies may be living on past glories. Brands & Marketing checks revealed that those that had made the older agencies strong had either left to set up their won outfits, or divorced the industry. For instance, the likes of Lanre Adisa and Steve Babaeko had been the creative spirits behind the agencies they were working for before setting up theirs.

This is quite evident in the exploits of their businesses in the industry after a few years of setting them up. Besides, the likes of Akpo Daniyan, one of the moving spirits in S.O& U has since moved out of the industry completely. After a stint at the telecommunications industry, Daniyan is presently in the nation’s financial sector.

The chairman of Troyka Group, Mr Biodun Shobanjo had once warned of the dire consequences of allowing creative minds exit the industry for a greener pasture.

“We should not begin to bother ourselves about movements within the industry. What should be a major concern should be those moving out in search of greener pasture. If this is not addressed, it may impact on the industry negatively,” he had warned at a public forum.

Is Shobanjo’s prediction fast coming to pass? How will the older agencies, whose fortunes have been declining of late, rise to this challenge? Perhaps, events in the 12 months would show, but one thing is glaring, the new agencies are poised to give the older ones a ‘fight.’

“I believe creativity and advertising are for the younger minds and this is what we intend to leverage on,” Steve Babaeko, chief executive of X3M had once said; an indication, perhaps, that some of these new agencies may not be ready to give up this new status so soon.

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