date.timezone = "America/Anchorage"
Why Nigerian Advertising Will Never Get to Cannes.

By Jesse Adeniji

I was trained by the best of creative directors and worked under six different expatriate CDs. I have been to the Leo Burnett University EMEA in London where I now live and was also at Gordon Cook's prestigious Vega School of Branding in South Africa. I resigned after 8 years of unrewarded toil and Nazi-like exploitation by the owners of the Nigerian ad agencies where I worked on one side, and the so-called clients on the other.

Sorry I have to bog you down with some detail as I believe we have few practitioners who can compete anywhere in the world, but like everything Nigerian, are disrespected and thrown overboard. The problem of the ad industry in Nigeria started with the indigenization decree of Obasanjo's regime when the white boys ran out with their tails in between their legs. The people who took the mantle of leadership were the Client Service guys. The creative guys being less business inclined passed up a glorious opportunity to help the Nigerian advertising industry.

Just take a look at the agencies like Insight, DDB, STB McCann, ROSABELLEOBURNETT and TBWA, you'll find they are owned by these class of people. So you see, the tilt was towards money, money, money. The creative staff were then made to become a tool in the attainment of that. The quest for the creativity part of the business was totally lost.

Every creative guy I know has one issue or the other with his job. So an average creative guy in Nigeria is hidden behind the scenes, made to work in sweatshops and given peanuts to live by.

Add that unsavoury situation to the problem of 'clients' and you have a totally messed up situation. Because we employ certificates in Nigeria, there's little room for putting the right people in the right position. The 'brand manager' or the 'marketing director' who has the budget and the big axe on the final creative material is mostly incompetent in judging creative materials.

Then, they see agencies as second-class people to whom their whims and caprice must be dictated to and they take to heart very cynically, the maxim 'he who pays the piper dictates the tune'. They won't even listen to you at presentations, they will sleep off, and they will ask for bribes and purposely bring in 2 or 3 agencies not for the competition but for the opportunity to be given bribes from a multi-source.....and then, they will tell you off and dictate their ideas. That's 95% of what you're condemned to watch on Naija TV. And because the client service led agency is after the money, anything goes. Only Lolu Akinwunmi of Prima Garnett and maybe Shobanjo of Insight has been able to tell one or two meddling clients off.

So sorry guys, as long as this scenario persists, as long as even the creative mind is relegated and caged, you will have to endure that kind of scenario for a long time to come. I say that as someone who's done presentations to the mightier of the mightiest in the land ranging from Tony Elumelu, President Obasanjo, Bunmi Oni, Expatriates........and for top Naija companies like Vodacom, Vmobile, UBA, PDP, Glo, Shell, Unilever....just to mention a few.

I put some of my work up on my blog ( for some of the brands you know, you might want to compare them to those you've seen around. I tell you 80% haven't seen the light of the day. I brought a 320 gig of hard drive to the UK full of stunning works that wasn't good enough for the average minds in my country.

Jesse Adeniji worked as a creative in some of Nigeria's top ad agencies and now lives in the UK. He made this contribution to an online discourse on the issue of creativity in Nigerian advertising. He shares his thoughts on advertising, marketing and strategy in


Add comment

Security code

Templates Joomla 1.5