The dust is settling and all the Champagne corks have popped to validate the culmination of activities for LAIF (Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival) 2008. The winners, the losers and the organisers have all reflected on how best to make it better. The 2008 edition leaves us much to build upon in our quest for continuous improvement as an emerging creative market.
I was at the event as an observer to celebrate the final output of some of my strategic inputs. I just hope that sooner or later Effie awards will be instituted in Nigeria to celebrate the cerebral logic behind the creative sparks we see. It will be a platform for the unseen hands of the strategy planners, brand analysts, market intelligence, media planners, and research analysts etc. to be acknowledged in the creative delivery process.
I have therefore taken the liberty to analyse the event as a simulated marketing turf where advertising agencies compete for share of influence in the business that follows the logic of Adam's closed loop. I am sure beyond the obvious pitches; you will all agree with me that our world is a very demanding marketplace in a struggle for share of billings and accounts.
The challenger brands
Challenger brands are traditional runner-up or trailing firms like the popular Colgate, Ford, Avis, and PepsiCo who continuously aspire to take on and eventually dislodge an established market leader in their category. At LAIF 2008, they are defined as those winning their first Grand Prix and therefore occupying the first four positions on the medal table. They are first-timers in the hall-of-fame of LAIF's prestigious winners. STB McCann, ZK, LTC-JWT, and SO&U Saatchi emerged as strong future contenders to watch out for in the future.
However, this year's challenger brands could not demonstrate sufficient creative fire-power to instantiate competitive disequilibrium. They were largely flanking with no serious frontal attack as none of them made a double Grand Prix like 2006 and 2007 winners. I feel their creative attack was not convincing enough to match the historical benchmark of two Grand Prix and minimum of eight awards cumulative total to occupy the exalted position. In total, none of them recieved as much spread of awards as DDB's 14, Insight Grey's 11, TBWA's 10, or BatesCosse's 10. From relative performance indices, there was no winner at LAIF 2008 because an occasional spark without a consistent track-record cannot translate to sustainable advantage.
You will recall that each of Prima Garnet Ogilvy and Leo Burnett Rosabel's double Grand Prix in 2006 was completed with 12 and eight awards respectively while Insight Grey's 2007 double Grand Prix came with 13 medals. DDB's 2007 Grand Prix for MTN Loaded music came with eight awards! Historically, only STB McCann has the highest performance track record in LAIF. 2006 came with eight medals including two gold in 2006 and a total of nine awards including three gold that made it fourth at the 2007 edition.
ZK is new kid on the block trying hard to be the Usain Bolt of the Nigerian advertising industry with three gold and a Grand Prix for Celtel brand. It's noteworthy that ZK is the best new entrant this year.
LTC-JWT‘s does not have a “golden” path at LAIF. Its Zip-Up campaign was its only award in 2007.
SO& U Saatchi obviously wanted to use the 2008 edition to stage a come-back, but the several credibility queries on the original owners of the popular Guinness' Udeme commercial that won them a TV Grand Prix has become is an issue that AAAN must address. All popular creative halls of fame maintain that Saatchi and Saatchi London created the job with valid claims on individuals that made the team. However, the agency needs to convince the market that it can address its fall from six awards in 2006 to four awards in 2007.
For all the players, we must recognise the potential capability of challenger brands to dethrone enthroned champions. Toyota today produces more cars than General Motors, and British Airways flies more international passengers than the former leader, Pan Am, did in its heydays.
Where are the market leaders?
Market leaders are category champions who have secured significantly higher share of market to hold the ace. They are Microsoft (computer software), Intel (microprocessors), Caterpillar (earth-moving equipment), Coca-Cola (carbonated soft drinks), McDonald's (fast food), and Gillette (razor blades/men's grooming).
Using previous performances at LAIF, I will define the market leader as any player that has won at least a Grand Prix in previous editions. There are only four - Prima Garnet Ogilvy, Rosabel Leo Burnett, Insight Grey and DDB.
At LAIF 2008, most of the leaders lost on position defence, because some of them won the highest numbers of awards but lost out on the all-important Grand Prix gong award. DDB was the most awarded agency with 14 medals followed by Insight Grey‘s 11 awards but both had no Grand Prix, though DDB received a nomination for a Grand Prix radio for its work on Fidelity Bank's Sweeta. The other two leaders - Prima Garnet Ogilvy and Rosabel Leo Burnett recorded no single Gold at LAIF 2008!
Another strong leader to note is TBWA at LAIF 2008, making a come-back as a formidable force replicating the BMA days to occupy the sixth position on the medal table with 10 awards after Insight Grey (fifth position). On year-on-year growth, DDB though seventh on the medal table, recorded the highest consistency with an average of 10 awards per year, making it the most consistently creative agency and also the most awarded ever.
However, like every market leader, the five agencies mentioned above have a huge responsibility to find ways to expand total market demand by securing new users, new uses, and more usage of advertising outputs. A market leader will only survive if it increases the opportunity that is available to the market. Market leaders must also defend its territory by continuous market broadening.
A product innovation like Nokia's and Ericsson's digital cell phones secured leadership over Motorola's analog models, as Sears did when it underestimated Kmart and Wal-Mart.
Tzu, the famed Chinese military strategist in a treatise called "The Art of War," told his warriors “One does not rely on the enemy not attacking, but on the fact that he himself is unassailable.” The most constructive response is continuous innovation and that is the challenge for the current market leader.
The market followers
The market followers remains the old but trusted hands like FCB Centrespread, Lowe Lintas, Eminent, Explicit etc, who will not rock the boat for great awards but are very contented with at least an award to reinforce that participation is more than winning. They have credentials that appeal to their defined market and they hold tightly to their traditional accounts.
However, some of them seem to be slipping from their previous performance. Lowe Lintas came down to one gold from its brilliant nine medals (including two gold) in 2007, of which four were won on V-mobile. FCB Centrespread's best performance in LAIF is its one Gold for its very exciting Skye Bank 'Yes' radio.
…and finally the niche players
The niche players have identified a distinct gap that they can focus their strengths to service in the market. The key idea in niche playing is specialisation, which often comes out of serendipity than a focused intention. Their mantra is rather than be a follower, I will be a leader in a small market.
At LAIF 2008, BateCosse was disVIRGINed nine times, winning 90% of its total award from Virgin Nigeria alone, making it the most awarded brand, a little ahead of MTN's seven. It seems the Bates' creative team have learnt how to always “touch the right spots.” With two gold to place eighth on the medal table, Bates doubled up from its five awards in 2007 to 10 awards in 2008. Wonder boy 141 worldwide, a fully specialised niche set up to service BAT, yet through-the-line agency went down from one gold for MTS in 2007 to not a single award at this year's edition.
Niche playing also offers an entry point for some of the new agencies that will shake the landscape next year - Lanre Adisa's Noah Ark, Tunji Olugbodi's Verdant Zeal and Charles Arong's Alternativ. Their entry strategy will normally be to avoid competing with larger firms by targeting small markets of little or no interest to the larger firms. This is how the Jupiter Drawing Room became Africa's best indigenous agency with no affiliation.
However, I see possible evolution of vertical-level niche specialists serving a specific category. Comex for example is an automobile advertising firm based on the few things I have seen, like Bluebird before Yinka Daramola was perceived as an insurance-sector agency. Eagle Eye Communications is largely servicing the Dana conglomerate.
We already have seen significant customer-size niche specialists, who are our traditional “portfolio boys” running hotshops to service small customers who are neglected by the major players. I see a potential future where some of the big players will buy into them and position them as fighter brands against the unstructured portfolio boys who are “cleaning” up accounts from their one-bedroom apartment at lowest cost to the client, with added advantage of “next day delivery.”
Regional niche players are also emerging from Abuja (FCT). Job-shop specialists already exist as in-house agencies like Globacom, UBA etc. This firm customises their products for the individual customer. I think AAAN should allow them to participate in LAIF 2009 in order to fully capture the best of creativity in our industry.
The Nigerian advertising terrain is truly on the ascendancy, and a conscious preservation of the credibility of LAIF remains one of the critical success factors.
All players must always live by Kotler's counsel: “Don't buy market share. Figure out how to earn it.”
Thanks for this piece. Its a confirmation that Nigeria's advertising is set for the world stage. Kudos to the winners and more power to the challengers of now and the future. Me think Glo's inhouse agency should send in their works next year to make it a well-rounded competition Regards Posted on 6 Oct 2008 19:05
Did u just say DDB is the most awarded agency ever? Funny. To say your position is jaundiced would be an understatement.
While not disputing the fact that DDB has done some good work on the MTN biz, I will not consider DDB the most consistently creative agency because I am not sure 3 years of LAIF awards is enough to make such a judgement. Before 2006, there were awards in the industry and some agencies have performed more consstently if those awards are taken into cognisance.
This 'DDB' consistency only started with LAIF and the MTN account. What has DDB done in terms of building a brand up from scratch? Can DDB point to a brand they have built a personae for which now stands for something in the mind of the consumers.
I feel thats the way consistency in creativity should be judged, even if one wants to discountenance the numerous awards which some of other agencies have won consistently before LAIF awards Posted on 6 Oct 2008 19:36
First, i think creative consistency here is in context of LAIF awards (not previous, which makes your comments statistically invalid) and that is the frame of reference for the discourse. Second,every agency leverage an account to demonstrate its creative prowess. In this case DDB and MTN. Its therefore not a misnomer because its the nature of the industry. However note that one of the most celebrated works in this industry - Topless or Covered for Mercedes came from DDB before MTN and LAIF. Third, learn to talk from an informed and convincing point of view. When you want to challenge a factual write-up like this, you come to the debate with facts, figues, charts etc. of the so-called pre-LAIF awards and do your trend analysis. In conclusion, if you have issues with this brilliant write-up, you can go ahead and write yours and send it to the brilliant editors at Bizcommunity to consider for publication Posted on 6 Oct 2008 20:17
The true test of creative consistency is not necessarily by the number of awards you win churning out creative jobs for an already established and high spending brand, but by the number of awards you have won for your creative input into growing a potpourri of brands. Just imagine that the MTN brand did just on TV & Radio commercial a year? Just how many awards would you bag. Posted on 15 Oct 2008 10:42
Thanks Ayekooto for your comments To your question on what is DDB’s claim to fame, please find below 3 simple answers on the agency’s evolution. First, the most celebrated award in the history of creativity in Nigeria was won by DDB through Mercedez Benz Topless and Covered in 2002 (4 years pre-MTN). These awards were not just creative as they generated highest talk value in the industry and outside Nigeria, they delivered clients’ sales objective faster than planned. Please tell me any work in history that has matched this. No wonder Custometrics AdTracker Survey, 2007 confirmed it to be the most memorable and talked about Print advert in Nigeria (1997-2007) Second, DDB built LG brand from 3.1% brand awareness to over 46% in 4 years (2003-2006). That is an astounding brand building effort! Beyond this is the fact that DDB Lagos created the tagline “Life is good” that got the impressive attention of the Korean head-office to EARN an endorsement as a global pay-off. Please can you mention any Nigerian agency that has achieved this feat including your listed old warhorses? Third DDB launched Mimee brand of instant noodle in a near monopoly market held by Indomie for 16 years and in less than one year, our dear brand has secured a decile of the market share. Please note and confirm from May and Baker Nigeria ( 5/7 Sapara Street, Off Oba Akran, Ikeja Lagos) that the reasons are beyond creative works but DDB’s outstanding strategic strength deployed through first-class road-to-market strategy, brilliant brand strategy framework and wow channel development plan that shifted the market equilibrium with ease and at minimal cost. Which agency in Nigeria has gone beyond artworks and TVCs ? Posted on 19 Oct 2008 02:20
Hey guys let's stop the quarrels and give kudos to the writer. He made a very riveting analysis of how the awards stood in the past, the present and the future challenges. I sincerely appreciate his contributions and suggestions that in-house hot shops should be allowed in the future to send entries. It is a clarion call to AAAN, we need to step out of stereotypes and begin to recognise all works of creativity no matter where they are within the confines of our country.
While i agree that LAIF is an attempt to shore up the image of Nigeria's creative prowess, i have always disagreed with it's modus operandi in terms of the judges. That's why i won't buy any of the Agency classification/glorification.
The very first awards consisted of a pot-pourri of clients and journalists who do not really or necessarily understand creative assessment.
The second Laif had Reuben Abati as one of the panelists. Excuse me, he's a brilliant journalist but not a creative buff or critic.
And also, without mincing words, some of those awards were done to give the convener-agencies some prop or shot-in-the-arm. And this is not a gainsaying, i have won LAIF awards myself in 2007. I even picked up a gold in 2008 in the 'never ran' category on UBA prestige work even when i had left Leo Burnett and continued my work/study in the UK.
Creative Awards all over the world are judged on the quality of those who judge it. LAIF is yet a long way to go to reach that level. And pre-LAIF awards, what's the credentials of these agencies being labeled as 'most creative' now? MTN and TBWA have a better history than MTN and DDB for me. It's a far harder thing to break a brand into the market place successfully than to continue the story. Now, that's not to take away the good work DDB had done.
I think DDB still have a catching up to do with catching up with the Big ones like Rosabelleoburnett, Insight, STB McCann. Apart from the MTN account, what is it's credentia; to fame? And that's quite recent.
You look at the awards given to Virgin Nigeria and i tell you those awards need judges. The picture of a braided female saying 'very nigerian. very virgin' for me is not cutting it. Grammatically, it's wrong. A virgin is a virgin. A Nigerian is a Nigerian. And creatively, the only good stuff is the model! For God's sake, some guys will think this is beef but look closely guys! That ad hasn't got any message and character yet it was celebrated like it's the best we could do?
There's a lot of blowing hot and geek-speak masquerading as creativity and strategy in Nigeria right now. As much as we want to be seen and heard, let's do something we can be proud of.
Laif as an idea is great and we need it to be tight. I agree with the writer though that non-mainstream boutiques should be given a chance to enter work but not those lazy in-house agencies of the those firms mentioned. Just tell me what the Glo inhouse agency has achieved? Running a different show on CNN while the message locally is different? Mutilating the brand?
Thanks Jesse for your comments To your question on what is DDB’s claim to fame, please find below 3 simple answers on the agency’s evolution. First, the most celebrated award in the history of creativity in Nigeria was won by DDB through Mercedez Benz Topless and Covered in 2002 (4 years pre-MTN). These awards were not just creative as they generated highest talk value in the industry and outside Nigeria, they delivered clients’ sales objective faster than planned. Please tell me any work in history that has matched this. No wonder Custometrics AdTracker Survey, 2007 confirmed it to be the most memorable and talked about Print advert in Nigeria (1997-2007) Second, DDB built LG brand from 3.1% brand awareness to over 46% in 4 years (2003-2006). That is an astounding brand building effort! Beyond this is the fact that DDB Lagos created the tagline “Life is good” that got the impressive attention of the Korean head-office to EARN an endorsement as a global pay-off. Please can you mention any Nigerian agency that has achieved this feat including your listed old warhorses? Third DDB launched Mimee brand of instant noodle in a near monopoly market held by Indomie for 16 years and in less than one year, our dear brand has secured a decile of the market share. Please note and confirm from May and Baker Nigeria ( 5/7 Sapara Street, Off Oba Akran, Ikeja Lagos) that the reasons are beyond creative works but DDB’s outstanding strategic strength deployed through first-class road-to-market strategy, brilliant brand strategy framework and wow channel development plan that shifted the market equilibrium with ease and at minimal cost. Which agency in Nigeria has gone beyond artworks and TVCs ? Posted on 19 Oct 2008 02:07
I am sure AAAN office might not have an historical performance matrix as demonstrated by a world-class strategist like Bayo. I think this what our jounalists should be doing...not sensational headlines without validity However, so much as i am not an anti-DDB, I believe 2 points must be addressed before LAIF can become a basis for creative judgement 1) The quality of the judges - none of them has judged an international award before. 2) The categorisation are very wrong - very pedestrian I will however congratulate Insight Grey as the most consistent creative house in Nigeria....the DDB and TBWAs can aspire to build such a consistent legacy as cerdentials for reckoning. Posted on 7 Oct 2008 08:48
I dont subscribe to the idea of wrong labeling that makes some players stronger than the other, moreso LAIF award is the most pedestrain way to categorise our agencies. For all intent and purpose, Verdant Zeal is a well groomed challenger that will take the big players head-on in the next few weeks, especially with its latest sign-on by the biggest telecoms operator in Africa. However, i appreciate Bayo's good analysis,at least we now have a historical perspective we can contest and finetune, whether its pro-DDB or not. Posted on 7 Oct 2008 09:32
Good analysis. At least for the first time, we all have a 3-year review of the winners and losers at LAIF awards. For me the fundamental issue to ask is the quality of the judges. An award is as valid as the reputation of its "high priests" You need to check the list, none of them has the requisite global exposure to be a faithful arbiter on the Nigeria creative space. Lets stop this shenanigan and build a credible award. To Bayo, a very respected strategist, i say this is good work but its clear to the most foolish that its a PR for DDB Posted on 7 Oct 2008 16:02
One bad collective attitude we all share is our inability to appreciate efforts of people behind the scene. LAIF 2008 was a huge sucess because some individuals went out of their ways to make it happen and i think the writer owe them an appreciation.Why celebrate the new baby without saying a thank-you to the doctor that facilitated the joy. However, very brilliant piece. The best ever on LAIF Posted on 7 Oct 2008 19:28
I like creativity I appreciate the crazy world of trying to make people buy what they might not ordinarily need through the persuasive power of advertising. However, i am worried if you practitioners think that a good advert is not just an award winner, but the one that tocuhes the consumer to make the desired positive response to the product you are selling. LAIF or no LAIF, we need Consumer Parliament award to recognise products that deliver on what they say in advertising. Very brilliant write-up Posted on 8 Oct 2008 20:22
That is a heavy stuff you wrote out there,but i was hoping to read about the shining qualities that makes the big advertising agency to have those medals.Qualities like the effort that goes into the making of those adverts.The creative ingredients. I respect your expressions though.They are the kind of write ups that has something to teach the neophytes..I will be looking forward to reading a more technical and practicable theories about strategy or advertising in your subsequent issues. With that you will have another loyal adherent to whatever you write. Posted on 4 Mar 2009 10:19
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This Message Board accepts no liability of legal consequences that arise from the Message Boards (e.g. defamation, slander, or other such crimes). All posted messages are the sole property of their respective authors. The maintainer does retain the right to remove any message posts for whatever reasons. People that post messages to this forum are not to libel/slander nor in any other way depict a company, entity, individual(s), or service in a false light; should they do so, the legal consequences are theirs alone. Bizcommunity.com will disclose authors' IP addresses to authorities if compelled to do so by a court of law.