LAIF is a Major Driver of Creativity, Innovation in this Market – Babaeko
The 2018 edition of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), famous Lagos Advertising & Ideas Festival (LAIF) is around the corner, holding on Sunday. As the industry revs up for the event, Steve Babaeko, CEO, X3M Ideas is the Vice President, AAAN and Chairman, LAIF management Board, fields questions on creativity, the import of the Nigeria’s No. 1 Marketing /Advertising reward event just as he addresses what to expect from the composite event that features a master class, exhibition and an impressive dinner /awards.
One of the take-out of the last edition of the award is about making LAIF more competitive by taking it beyond Nigeria, that is involving agencies outside the shores of the country, how close are you to this goal?
We are still keen about involving other West African countries but unfortunately, we still face the challenge of coordinating our brothers in that zone. The plan is still on and we will start the ground work early. Luckily for me, I just got the good news that one of our friends is now the President of Advertising association in Kenya. He called last week and sought for cooperation. Of course I didn’t waste time before telling him that we can make LAIF a focal point where we can all share ideas and learn. To me, if the East African agencies come around and challenge us, it will ginger practitioners on both ends. We all meet at Crystal and other awards, so why can’t we do the same here? I’m optimistic and I wish to be able to extend the frontiers of the award beyond Nigeria before I complete my term.
The LAIF has been on the upbeat since inception, there is something new added each year , what’s going to the ‘big idea’ or innovation this time around?
The truth is that almost every year, something new is added to LAIF award to deepen its essence and purpose. Beyond that, if a project like that is conceived in Nigeria and has been executed for 13 consecutive years, then it is not a joke. As a professional body, the award is a major milestone achievement that advertising community has achieved and sustained over the years. This year, definitely, we have something new that would be added. Last year, we look around -thought of the way to raise the bar and we took the award ceremony to Landmark Event Center in Lagos. Since the venue served us well last year, we are retaining it. Another innovation that has been added this year again is that there is going to be a seminar that will hold at the Civic Center, Lagos. One major difference between what happened in the past and what will happen this year is that we have other activities that would usher in the festival during our ‘Creative Week’ which will start on Monday 3rd of November.
What’s the theme for the 13th LAIF and the relevance of the selected topics for deliberations?
Every year we challenge ourselves, we look at challenges facing the industry. For instance, technology has become a disruptive phenomenon in the global advertising world. We ask ourselves; what can we do to make Nigerian practitioners battle ready to contend with the global technological trend? How are we preparing for the new order in technology, especially as it concerns data and creativity? Above all, LAIF is making a clarion call to every agency that; for us to survive tomorrow, we have to be ready today. As in the past, that is part of what we want to see with the agencies participating in the award this year.
The theme for the 2018 LAIF Awards is; “Future Forward”. For the Creative Week, there will be seminar, there will be jurors’ sitting and there will be Young Laifers Competition. Our Chief Juror for this year is Mr. Michael Zylstra, the Chief Strategy Officer, Dentsu Aegis Network, South Africa.
For robust industry discourse, AAAN in partnership with Globacom Nigeria is presenting Mr. Thebe Ikalafeng as Keynote Speaker for AAAN 2018 LAIF Awards Seminar. Ikalafeng is the founder and Chairman, Brand Leadership Group, South Africa and 1st African Chairman of Loeries Awards. He is recognised as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans. The topic of the seminar is; “African Brands Revolution: Why Global Brands dominate Africa.
Getting enough agencies to participate has been a challenge, is the trend different this year?
With the information I have gotten so far, the number of agencies participating has jacked up by about 20%. But if I must confess, the most gratifying thing for me is the fact that more young agencies put in entries. That is a major achievement because every year, we try to avoid a situation whereby the small agencies will assume the competition is for bigger agencies. So, we are having more participation from new entrants into the industry.
In all these, what is the place of African narratives of what value is this to advertising?
It is very important and I think we have come to that stage of our lives when we should tell our own story as Africans. I’m happy that some brands are already taking up the challenge. I recently read it somewhere that the telecom companies seem to be showing the way forward when it comes to telling authentic Nigerian stories. In a few of their ads, it is easy for you to conclude that this is us; this is Nigeria or Africa. These are different from the ads that are though Nigerian but look and sound foreign. If at this year’s LAIF award, an ad that tells African story or resonate with Nigerian consumers wins big, it will succeed in setting the pace, setting standard and encouraging both clients and agencies on the likely face of African future of advertising. This is necessary because if we don’t tell our story, people will tell it for us and by the time they tell it for us, it may be to our own disadvantage as it will not favour us and our children. We may also succeed in building a Nigerian brand by telling our authentic story.
How has LAIF impacted the industry in its 13 years history?
There’s no doubt the fact that it still remains the major yardstick to determine which agencies are doing well and which clients are supporting innovation and creativity. A couple of years back, clients didn’t bother much about LAIF award but in recent time, especially from the last five years down the line, clients are even the one reminding their agencies to enter one particular ad or another. What this tells us is that the clients want to see themselves win as well. LAIF is a major driver of creativity and innovation in this market. If you are a business or a client, one of the indices for the public to determine if you are growing with your agency is the performance of the agency through your campaigns as showcased in the LAIF award. As at today, it is perhaps the biggest creative competition in West Africa and I hope relevant authorities will continue to support us so that it will go on.
If this is so, is LAIF Awards prodding the Nigerian industry to making an impressive show at the World Cup of Advertising by winning Cannes Lions awards
Yes, we are getting there. In the past three years for instance, Nigerian agencies have made the continent proud at some international award ceremonies and they have performed better than what was obtainable 20 years ago. I can name agencies that have been winning consecutively in the international circuit. At the Lorries, Nigerians are winning and at Crystal, the same achievement is being recorded. What Noah’s Ark and X3M Ideas did at this year’s edition of Crystal, is a major land mark. DDB is doing well in that regard too, Insight is doing great and many others are coming up. So, like I said, we are getting there but of course, there is room for improvement. With LAIF awards that has become a local platform for us to flex muscles, exploring other continental and global awards has been easier than before.
In the last two editions, new agencies appeared to spring surprises with little or no mention of some key old agencies. Are the latter fagged out?
No, this is how it is globally and I think we are finally getting ourselves aligning to the global best practices. Abroad, one will see an agency like droga5 and CP+B (Crispin Porter & Borgusky) that have just come into the scene, rates very high in creativity and clinching the entire awards. You will be wondering where these agencies have suddenly sprung up.
As the chairman of LAIF Management Board, that is also my joy, we don’t want an award that would be like traditional titles of a few old or big agencies. The mission of the founding fathers was to give the industry a competitive platform that would challenge all; that would spur both young and old creative minds to show their strengths. With LAIF, there are no small agencies and there are no big agencies. If you are a small agency but you come out with big idea then you can win the contest, despite being surrounded by bigger agencies. All we want is for the competition to be fair and we want everybody to have a shot and being able to win. When that has started to happen, then we are in a good place.