Nigeria in Distress: The Solutions are in the Marketing Communications Space? – By Sunday Odiaka
Looking at the increasing challenges bedeviling Nigeria, there is no sense, denying the fact that a cloud of uncertainty hangs around her continuous existence as an independent state. Unemployment rate, for instance, is estimated to be 33%, this year, with youth unemployment and underemployment specifically pegged at 42% and 21% respectively. “…with the negative impacts of COVID-19 particularly on economic growth, it is inevitable that the unemployment rate will go further up and might even be on a steady path of increase if no meaningful step or measures are taken, attests a report, cited in punchng.com.
Regrettably, the country’s hard-won democracy which obviously is still at a developing stage is equally seriously threatened. The threat, experts observed, is mostly fueled by actions and pronouncements by the incumbent leadership and other state’s actors. “On the 3rd of June, the Nigerian government via a series of tweets, passed messages that could only be translated as genocidal,” Elvis Kachi, a contributor, writes, recently, in BusinessDay Weekender. “Buhari, Lolade Akinmulere, Deputy Editor at BusinessDay, also in the same BusinessDay Weekender, notes, has…now become a threat to the same vibrant democracy that brought him into power whether it’s in the form of sanctioning the use of aggressive force against peaceful protesters or the recent Twitter ban for all Nigerians.”
It is however not debatable that in the midst of the severe socio-economic and democracy threats, highly promising and youthful talents abound in Nigeria. The country proudly boasts of young barrier-breakers whose ideas and businesses are solidly competing favourably against long-existing and high paying ventures in other climes. Some young Nigerian achievers are equally hitting topmost-levels with what, ordinarily, could be waved off as irrelevant side hustles. It is further clear and highly commendable that some of these young Nigerian limit-breakers are not only pulling and exclusively reserving the spotlight for themselves, they are seriously grooming other young ones to continue to water their progress.
Remarkably, these thrilling narratives are becoming more visible in Nigeria’s integrated marketing communications space. The practitioners, mostly youngsters, are not just making tremendous contributions to the growth of the industry; they are positively disrupting and developing the nation’s broader business and political landscape. O To Ge was widely considered as one of the most successful media campaigns during the 2019 general polls. The ingenious campaign concept was reportedly designed and perfectly executed by a relatively known advertising agency managed by some young Nigerians. Daniel Obi, writing in businessday.ng, recalls “O to ge” is set to be another social phenomenon that leads a people to defining socio-political awareness and defining decision.”
Several young Nigerian marketing communications experts are equally pulling favourable recognitions and headlines outside the country with their innovative works. As usual, some of them were among those honoured for their pacesetting ideas as well as listed in the recently published Forbes Africa annual 30 under 30. Interestingly, the list was released at a time when many businesses were brought to a complete standstill by the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic. “…they are the continent’s revolutionary thinkers revitalising ideas and industries with fresh business models and innovative leadership,” notes a report cited in www.forbesafrica.com.
It is further evident that several young Nigerian marketing communicators are moving beyond creating cool and engaging contents as well as helping brands in strengthening their market positions. They are clearly proving that businesses can perfectly use marketing campaigns in dousing sovereignty-threatening issues. In the highly competitive beer sector, for instance, various players are seriously rekindling strong patriotism in the citizens, moving beyond profit-making. International Breweries is promoting its beer brand and at the same time, helping the younger generation in keeping in touch with their culture and tradition through the recently launched Echefula. The campaign, in Igbo dialect, means “Never Forget Your Identity.” Nwakaibeya, a short film, was reportedly unveiled by Guinness Nigeria to promote its beer brand as well as showcase the rich and colourful heritage of Nigerians from the East. Nigerian Breweries further used 508 crates of one of its beer brands in recreating the popular Niger Bridge as well as deepening relationships with its consumers.
Sadly, these young achievers are making these groundbreaking leaps at a time when Nigeria is clearly mired in crisis. Certain policies of the government, obviously, remained the major roadblock to business progress. In short, the increasing projection is that successive leadership is far from creating the desired environment for their investments. “Other countries will want to project local industry by supporting them while ours is purportedly taking scarce foreign exchange to some seedy portfolio agency somewhere in Bahrain,” Steve Babaeko reportedly bemoans. Babaeko, currently heading the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, AAAN, is one of the young experts perfectly grabbing his chances in the Nigerian marketing communications space.
The good news, however, is that as Nigeria joins the rest of the world in marking this year’s International Youth Day, several Nigerian youths especially the ones in the marketing communications space are boldly challenging and changing “negative normal.” They are clearly proving that they are no longer comfortable, operating within a system where they will make little or no representation in decision-making and execution. They are clearly proving that they are no longer ready to wait idly and endlessly for responsibilities to be entrusted to them. It is very clear that they are seriously concerned about creating and translating opportunities into appreciable gains. It is also very clear that they are seriously concerned about proving that they got all it takes to perfectly drive the future of the country. It is further very clear that in such Nigerian youths, a new and prosperous Nigeria is possible!
Odiaka, a media practitioner, writing from Lagos, can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org