How agencies, clients can close ranks to grow brands

Managing Director of Integrated Indigo, Bolaji Abimbola, has called on agencies and clients to shun unhealthy rivalries and work together for the development of marketing communications in Nigeria.

The Managing Director of Integrated Indigo, Bolaji Abimbola, has called on agencies and clients to shun unhealthy rivalries and work together for the development of marketing communications in Nigeria. He urged that agencies must develop listening ears in order to effectively understand the brief they are working on.

With almost 20 years experience in the marketing industry, he told The Guardian in a recent chat that there had been negative changes in the industry.
“Before now, both the agencies and clients saw themselves as partners. At that time, when it comes to the point at which to arrive at the big idea, it does not matter where it is coming from. Anyone with superior argument on an idea, regardless of where it is coming, the agency takes it and runs with it. By the time the campaign is successful, both the client and the agency will get the applause. But what we have these days is more like a master-servant relationship. People on the clients want to be seen as perfect and as such want agencies to do their bidding.”

Abimbola gave reasons for the problem, saying, “I think it stemmed from poaching by clients. It is that erroneous belief that once you have recruited the best from the agency side, you have all the ideas. And as a result, his idea must override all ideas coming from the agency side. When such things happen, you now begin to see the former agency hand hitting it hard on the agency where he came from. At such point, he becomes more draconian and assertive. But for me, such display cannot be in the interest of the clients.

“In the same breath, there is also the seemingly arrogant attitude of agency thinking it knows it all. It has been observed that many agencies no longer listen. Meanwhile, if you are going to be successful in the marketing communication industry, you need to have active listening skills. It is impossible to solve a problem you do not understand. Practitioners in the clients and agencies sides must be brand-centric, not egocentric.”

He said due to the above problem, Integrated Indigo Limited has seen the need to meet and interact with every client to exhaust any grey areas or questions likely to arise when the brief is undertaken.

On how to rebuild the agency-client relationship, he stated, “We need to start having brand workshops and conferences on a consistent basis. Clients and agencies of different arms of marketing communication must stop the idea where one arm working with the client, works at variance with another agency of different arm working with the same client. In those days, client, PR agency and advertising agency come together to handle briefs with the determination to achieve the same goal. I also need to state that the reason for the dearth of talent and ingenious PR campaign comes as a result of ego by client and lack of space to allow agency makes mistake.”

While reacting to the belief in some quarters that the problem plaguing the industry was informed by the fact that when marketing communication unbundled, it was quite hasty, saying, “I absolutely disagree. I think specialisation helps to enhance efficiency in the industry. As a practitioner, you cannot be a jack of all trade. You need to specialise in one area to be able to deliver to the satisfaction of your client.”

On the economy, Abimbola noted, “I must say that the economy is recovering but has not yet recovered. But realising the fact that it is a journey and that recession did not come in a day, serious brands are beginning to have more confidence to invest.

“However, recession has made a lot of competing brands to spring up. The competition you have not seen before is beginning to happen. Take, for instance, the biscuit market – we are beginning to see many of them embark on one promotion or the other. Almost all the players in that segment are doing one thing or the other. I think from my own perspective, competition will get a bit keener. At the last quarter, we are likely going to experience heavy spending on marketing.”

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