Understanding the advertising profession: Agenda for the 2019 National Advertising Conference

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Practitioners of Advertising in Nigeria are gearing up for what promises to be the most eventful and momentous gathering of Advertising professionals in the history of the profession.
They are converging on Abuja, from Monday, November 25, to Wednesday, November 27, 2019 for the National Advertising Conference holding at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
Advertising practice was conferred the status of a profession in Nigeria through an Act of Parliament, originally enacted as Decree number 55 of 1988, (cited as Advertising Practitioners, registration, etc. Act).  Under the regulatory purview of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria – APCON, established by the Act, the profession has grown significantly over the years and impacted Nigeria’s social and economic affairs in remarkable ways.  Membership of the profession has increased exponentially as hundreds of qualified and certificated practitioners are inducted into the profession every year.  The 2019 edition of the Register of Advertising Practitioners lists over Eight thousand practitioners in the various professional categories of Student, Associate, Full Membership and Fellows of the profession.
The advertising profession is composed of practitioners in the different areas of socializations.  These include: strategy and creative agencies/consultancies, media planning and buying agencies, platform owners and managers who provide and manage mass media outlets used to expose advertisements to desired audiences, activation and experiential agencies whose forte is creating and managing opportunities for brand direct/physical experience with prospects, among other specializations.  There are also practitioners in the communications, marketing and brand management functions of public and private organisations who occasionally or frequently employ advertising in their public and customer engagements and in the process, often engage the services of advertising professionals in the other aforementioned specializations.
Practitioners in all of these professional specializations have a common interest in the effectiveness of advertising in serving their respective communication objectives.  They are however, sometimes in conflict among themselves.  The conflicts usually arise from less than satisfactory delivery on expectations and default in fulfilment of contractual obligations.
One recurring area of conflict is the granting of credit on transactions and the burden of indebtedness arising from prolonged payment defaults.  There is also the issue of huge volume of advertising briefs going to non-advertising professionals and foreign agencies and consultants.  Many public sector organisations do not appear to appreciate that advertising is a professional practice, reserved for persons who are qualified and registered as Advertising Professionals.  There has been, therefore, a large incidence of patronage of contractors by public sector organisations resulting in very poor and unprofessional execution of huge-budget campaigns and consequential stultification of growth of the Nigerian advertising profession.
There has also been issues around the regulation of advertising practice in Nigeria.  While the role of regulation in stabilizing and raising the professional status and public perception of advertising has been largely applauded, the processes and framework of the regulation have sometimes been subject of arguments and conflicts.  This is understandable, given that public-interest regulation sometimes does not conduce to the market share and profit objectives of business organisations.  One lingering challenge of the professional regulation of advertising is the long absence of the governing Council of APCON.
The 2019 National Advertising Conference presents a good opportunity to discuss all of these issues and conflicts in an atmosphere that engenders honest appreciation of the viewpoints of all the stakeholders.  The discussions will be guided by the theme, “Advertising in the post-digital age: the profession, the business and Nigeria’s socio-economic development”.
The conference is the first of such event, bringing together professionals from the various specializations of the marketing communications practice and scholarship to share perspectives on the sustained development of the profession as well as chart common grounds in confronting some of the challenges facing the profession as it continues to evolve.
The conference is an initiative by APCON whose current management has successfully rallied leaders and members of the profession across sectoral affiliations and very significantly, Advertising scholars in tertiary institutions, to join hands in organizing the conference.
Because of the level of consultations and organization preceding the conference and perhaps, because it is the first time the profession is hosting a national professional conference of a world-class standard, there has been an overwhelming expression and demonstration of passion, enthusiasm and excitement by Advertising practitioners as well as individuals and organisations who have been associated with advertising, to participate in the conference.
At the moment, the Conference Planning Committee and the Local Organising Committee are upbeat and making necessary contacts and arrangements to satisfy the huge expectations of the members of the profession and the larger public, whose marketing communications needs have been so creatively satiated by Advertising professionals, over the years.
Going by the wide range of consultations across the marketing communications industry preceding the conference and the painstaking planning of the conference, there is every reason to expect that the National Advertising Conference will be an event to remember for a long time after.
Joe-Eugene Onuorah, rpa is Deputy Director, Registration and Professional Development, APCON

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