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George Thorpe’s Top 10 Myths in Nigeria’s Advertising and Marketing IndustryBy Stephanie Dozie on April 28, 2014

The Marketing Edge Magazine Marketing Summit was a part of the magazine’s 10th Anniversary celebration and it held at Federal Palace Hotel, VI on the 11th of April, 2014. During the summit, George Thorpe, the lead panelist and lecturer (and a veteran in the Nigerian Advertising and Marketing scene), speaking on the theme of the summit “Exploding Major Myths of Marketing and Advertising Services Industry in Nigeria”, set out to bust 10 myths he feels the Nigerian marketing and advertising world is plagued by.


George Thorpe (1280x852)

Photo Credit: Marketing Edge Magazine (


(Caveat: Please note that this list is entirely based on the opinion of Mr. George Thorpe and are not necessarily shared by IN3K8 Media.)


1. Myth: “Juicy accounts” make for a lucrative agency business and industry.

Reality: Some agencies that win “juicy accounts” are struggling in reality. The measurement of a lucrative business is not the number of cars parked in the parking lot but the favourable outcome of the company’s profit and loss account. A lucrative business should be in the position in which it can cover all its overhead costs with its interest rates and call the shots.


2. Myth: Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is here and here to stay.

Reality: Strategic IMC looks good in theory and on paper but the problem is that the advertising agency as it is structured around the world is not geared towards strategic IMC. Neither agencies nor clients are not ready to inject all their resources into one network of agencies.


3. Myth: Retired founder of agencies can return as MD to turn around their agency.

Reality: When a successor takes over from a founding founder and stumbles in his job, the founder panics and comes back thinking he can do a salvage job with the mindset that he is still young and full of vigour. However, he gets lost in the current events and trends because he is too old for the office and his employees and clients are decades younger. Founder MDs should ensure they make a long term succession plan upon retirement.


4. Myth: Brands spend a lot on media advertising and media is expensive.

Reality: Out of 1911 advertisers, only 11 advertisers spent over N500,000 on radio and TV adverts in 2011. There are a lot of small spenders. Ghana and South Africa spends over 4 and 6 times respectively, more than Nigeria in advertising.


5. Myth: Traditional marketing communication is out…digital marketing is in.

Reality: Digital marketing is hyped. After the dust settles, digital marketing will eventually find it’s place in IMC. Too many internet users want things that are free while businesses want to make profit. Digital marketing would not displace traditional marketing but complement it.


6. Myth: Protectionism best serves the short to longer term interest of the advertising industry.

Reality: The law against foreign ownership of agencies in Nigeria by professional bodies isn’t clear. There is a national category whereby foreign investors must not own more than 25.1% and a subcategory of agencies that can have 100% ownership by foreigners but they must only handle advertising for outside Nigeria. As a marketer, you don’t want to build walls and limit foreign investment, rather, you want to encourage foreigners to open up. All stakeholders need to be consulted before making laws that affect them. It is in the long-term interest of the clients that we attract the right kind of foreign investment.


7. Myth: The dearth of data remains the bane of marketing practice and profession.

Reality: Research, information, data and intelligence are available in Nigeria for N2 million per data search. The problem is that clients are not interested in purchasing them…they are not willing to pay. If a company can spend N2 billion on media advertising, it can invest about N4 million on research that helps it know where to place it’s adverts


8. Myth: The career advancement of indigenous marketing professionals has been a great story.

Reality: Head of marketing positions in the multi-national companies in Nigeria are not occupied by more locals than foreigners. Ten years ago, the ratio of locals to expatriates was 4:7. Currently, it’s at 3:8. That doesn’t adduce career advancement. Many people think there are more locals in top marketing positions today than there were 10 years ago but that is not so.


9. Myth: Advertising agencies – win creative awards or die; affiliate (to global network) or die.

Reality: You don’t need creative awards to validate your success.


10. Myth: The Multi-National Companies (MNC)/Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) front is the last frontier of opportunity. Get in now!

Reality: SMEs have been identified as the growth engine of the economy but ad agencies are not interested in them, instead, they are keeping busy by struggling for MNC accounts. There are many SMEs out there that need advertising services, willing to trust the agencies and have opportunities for growth.

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