Airtel Pitch: Agency(ies) Likely to Survive the Financials and Why?
There is yet another huddle to cross in a bid to finally resolve the issue of the agency or agencies that will be responsible for Airtel Advertising and ancillary functions in Nigeria.
The Airtel business was thrown up for a review a couple of months ago following the transitory arrangement which saw the business moved off-the-cuff to two agencies – STB-McCann and Centrespread pending the time the business is appropriately reviewed and awarded to winning agencies that will become the brand’s roster agency/agencies.
While it is not news that the anticipated pitch has held, the last three agencies standing are Centrespread, Noah’s Ark and Insight Communications.
Investigations however reveal that these three are currently being engaged by the client in the financial stage of the business review. What this means is that the business could swing any direction as all agencies have proved to be eminently qualified and in good stead to handle the leading telco’s advertising business.
Findings in the week ending suggest that the business is actually looking more in one direction than the other due to financial demands/proposal forwarded by the intending handlers.
People familiar with the business hinted that the client has a ceiling for its outlays on advertising especially as it concerns retainer allowances. Be that as it may, the client in this case and clients in general are seen to be on a cost cutting mission in view of compelling economic circumstances prevalent in the country.
“Provided the best agencies for the job have been shortlisted, the financial stage is intended to help the client to get the best deal. So the client uses such opportunities to get a good bargain for the expected services”.
With this hindsight, it is apparent the costs of doing business by all the players engaged in this ‘battle’ are obviously not the same. It is common business calculation that an enterprise worth its name in gold will not undercut itself similarly it will be foolish for a small shop to price itself out of relevance.
Our calculation suggests that the client having ascertained that all agencies can perform effectively on the account, they may therefore look toward the more nimble and pocket friendly shops. This also tallies with a particular stereotype associated especially with Far East originated businesses – hack the cost as far as possible!
If these observations could hold some water, then it becomes easier to point the direction the business is likely to swing. More so, negotiations at this stage, look more like a buyer’s market rather than the seller’s!
Insight by all standards is an industry top dog and maintains a straight ego. Contrary to the buyer’s market syndrome, the agency is not likely to jump at just anything thrown at her. The biggest agency in our clime, might find the client’s offer below par. I see a dissonance here. You won’t go to a Rolls-Royce garage and offer the price of a Beetle! Moreover, agency is not dying to make a name in telecoms neither is it gasping for breath to warrant it to bow its head in this circumstance. Some may call it arrogance or pride, the fact is that the agency knows its worth. Issues mentioned here may make it difficult for Insight to berth this coveted business.
However, if the agency and the client can have a middle of the road arrangement, it will be a plus for both parties.
Noak’s Ark is the smallest of the three finalists slugging it out at the financial stage. Like it or not, Lanre Adisa and his team are hungry and definitely needs an opportunity to make a point and re-affirm the incontrovertible presence as a creative force.
Definitely, the price must be right, as a ‘small’ agency compared to the former, it could make do with a fee much more ‘pocket friendly’ than what the former will demand. I see the client looking in this direction as the creative fire power in this circumstance is given or is constant.
Who or what says the Client will not be willing to explore the opportunity to “buy one, get one free”. Use the price of one to get two services. It is possible. Hence, the possibility of sharing the business between two agencies cannot be ignored.
Therefore, another possible scenario is for client to match a young agency and a fairly big and experienced agency to handle the business. Centrespread Advertising apart from being a fairly big agency has the advantage of having a hands-on experience on the Airtel business. It’s one of the agencies that have seen the brand through a number of transitions. The agency was brought in to give ad-hoc support to the brand during a hiatus which occasioned the business to be move from Ogilvy Africa and its Nigerian Affiliate not sparing the contender, Scanad and its founder, Bharat Thakrar in what is described as a great rumpus. Read about the Airtel, Ogily Africa and Scanad debacle here:
Apart from the above, Centrespread definitely needs a substantial business to get the agency back on solid footing. It therefore may not be too definitive in its demands, however moderation is the name of the game. In essence, Centrespread and Noah’s Ark may emerge as from the financial as agencies to partner with Airtel on moving the brand to its next phase of growth in the Nigerian market.
In a nutshell, the odd, in our calculations favours a Centrespread /Noah’s Ark combination being appointed as substantive beneficiaries of the business which Ogilvy Africa and its contentious affiliate and partner lost in 2013.
The industry is patiently waiting for this news.