Undoubtedly, the advent of COVID-19 prompted a new normal, wherein person to person contact is discouraged so as to prevent the spread of the virus. For instance, many organizations have shifted to virtual events and meetings, in compliance with the COVID-19 safety directives, and are saving time and money in the process. But as the online meetings are gaining momentum and showing incredible growth potentials in the country, there is a general perception that, as beneficial as the meetings are, they are not without their demerits. A cross section of respondents who spoke with The Industry on the immense benefits of the online meetings vis a vis its shortcomings noted that the world of events and conference has not remained the same, since virtual meetings become popular.
According to an event planner, Tunde Adetunji, when compared with the physical gatherings, virtual meetings are characterized by increase in attendance, as well, as savings in cost and time. “The fact is that virtual events have been recording a higher attendance rate compared to in-person events. This is because more people are inclined to participate, since they can conveniently join from anywhere, as no travel is required. This increase in attendance is accompanied by huge savings in time and money as preparation for the meetings is not as elaborate and time consuming when compared to physical events.”
For instance, to host physical events, a lot of preparations and costs are involved, as one needs to allot money to rent meeting space or pay a fee to put up a booth at an exhibition hall. The participants also have pay for hotels, transportation, and other work-related expenses. But, on the contrary, hosting an event online avoids most of these expenses, thus, keeping overhead costs lower. The cost of hosting or attending a conference or trade show in person could run into 10 times of what it will cost to host an online event.
Secondly, it takes valuable time to travel and participate in an offline event. It is the time the employee could use to do something else. And many people consider traveling for such physical events as inconvenient and boring. They appreciate that if they can do their business from the office, as with a virtual event, then, they can concentrate more of their time on other tasks. On this score, virtual events tend to be faster pace than physical events, since the attendees don’t have to physically move from space to space. So you can actually end up meeting more people at online events than you could at offline events.
However, Adetunji noted that, just like every other activity with advantages, the online events, also, have their disadvantages. “The fact is that online events or virtual meetings have their shortcomings. For example, unlike in physical meetings, there are more distractions during virtual meetings at home or in the office. There is always a source of distraction: phone ringing, internet calling for attention and even, children making noise. A participant have to find a way to curtail distractions in virtual conferences either in the office or at home, if he is to appropriate its full benefits”.
Until the spill from the notorious cybercriminal, Abbas Ramon, famously known as Hushpuppi, which made the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to call for his extradition to the United States of America (USA), DCP Abba Kyari was the most decorated serving officer in Nigerian Police Force. While it may be too early to declare Kyari guilty as charged, the Nigerian police authorities have put him on suspension and appointed DCP Tunji Disu to replace him as the head of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
Many iron-fist kidnappers, armed robbers and assassins have been shown the route to the grave, cell and court by DCP Kyari and his team. That was before the alleged 8 million naira proceeds of fraud wired to him by the Bariga-born self-styled internet thief pushed his shining career as a Super Cop off the cliff. Kyari’s meteoric rise in the force was largely due to his ability to deploy tech-based intelligence to the business of crime tracking and cracking. For this he has enjoyed a community of goodwill from Nigerians, home and abroad.
Unlike what happens in this clime, where somebody, who hates you, can cook a torrid case just to get you booked and fried, the FBI is far above political meddlesomeness. The detailed story of how Kyari was contracted by Hushpuppi to get his partner-in-crime, Chibuzor, nailed and taken out of circulation over fraud money amounting to $1.1 million to be collected from an unnamed Qatari businessman is very pathetic. However, it seems Abba Kyari is cooked done, and may not escape the frying pan of American prison wall. How soon he gets out of this mess, if he will ever get out of it, is no longer the issue. The issue is that there are questions only Kyari must answer to. From its impeccable records of performance across ages and borders, the FBI would not let go until the answers are provided by Abba Kyari to their ethical satisfaction.
Well, there are records across the globe of intelligence cops frolicking with the underworld. While some were mowed down by their criminal allies, others were eventually nabbed by the long arm of the law. Kyari’s case cannot be a record breaker here. No.
Arguably the world number one crime-bursting agency, the FBI, won’t allow him to live with that luxury of freedom, with shielding by political and tribal sentiment purveyors while the delicate question hangs in the air. Unfortunately, Kyari botched his close to two decades of gallantry, and a dossier as a promising cop needed at the top of the Nigerian Police Force by this one ignoble conduct too many. Haba, Abba Kyari, you could have definitely done the contrary.
Fulcrum between advertising and consumerpromotion experience
SELF APPRAISAL: Advertising practice is enjoying a cloud of darkness that shields it from reckoning, such that gives it the undue advantage over other offerings when it comes to value consideration. Whereas its engagement is predicated on value rating and proposition, it does not go through the scrutiny of evaluation. The shield for it is embedded in glamour and noise so much so, the dint deafen and blinds even those who should call it to question.
Over time, and in the name of creativity and innovation, advertising has evolved into varying references that further deepens its hideout; as advertising practice, some refer to it as integrated marketing communication, some simply refer to it as brand management, and so on, but for the purpose of our consumer public, we shall rest it at ADVERTISING.
As with every commercial offering, advertising is about value creation, a commercial engagement that is value-based; as with any given brand, advertising should be rated for the quality of its promise. Unfortunately, that should be seen as an investment of resources. As mentioned above, however, its nature and characteristics keeps it away from direct evaluation (and impact assessment) because it is invincible.
Interestingly, advertising is structured to question values. The modus for an ideal professional practice structures the entire process of advertising on seeking answers to question of value; the real and derivable value of own brand, that competitive consideration of own-brand versus competing offering, the WHO for the offering, market expectation, size of market in view of the rated offering or proposition, etc. Advertising asks all the questions in the process of engagement.
The missing question is what is advertising offering? What is the value of its proposition; how its value offering compared with a competitive offer does; what is it contributing in real sense…so many questions. Our CONSUMER in this case is split in two: advertisers and the public to whom advertising messages are directed.
From its base position as a form of communication, the parameters for value assessment starts from INFORMATION. Advertising is about information, hence the standard curriculum of mass communication as a study discipline subsumes it; Advertising is commerce-based communication, patterned to stimulate market growth and development by facilitating consumer-brand (not-so-branded offerings) interaction.
It enables commercial interface by information. However, advertising as a pattern of communication is in itself based on value. Broadly, the critical considerations are efficiency and effectiveness. As a profession, it is structured to deliver on value, such that its efficiency and effectiveness are by themselves demonstrative of the systematic application of set rules leading to operative standard.
Therefore, among others, value expectations from advertising practice and products must deliver on clarity of message, credibility of information, dependability, and instructional guide. Advertising messages must engage stakeholders on the very critical value touch-point of credibility and reliability.
It is on the basis of credibility and reliability that a consumer can assuredly make rewarding buying decision at the market place. Therefore, advertising messages must be clean of deceit, misrepresentation, sincere persuasion, healthy competition. Advertising messages should not communicate a promise its brands cannot deliver on.
Advertised retail price must be same with what is obtained at place of purchase. Use of models must be true and appropriate; claims about quality and value must be sincere and deliverable…and so on.
It is on the basis of set-standards we seek to evaluate the contribution of ADVERTISING practice and product offering to consumers’ wellbeing; what does it really add?
To advertisers (investors in advertising): it must deliver on promise. The problem with critical evaluation at this level is that majority of those who should ask questions don’t know the parameters for evaluation.Every advertising investment should be guided by specific objective. In most cases, objectives are either not established or misplaced. In the face of either situation, the glamour of advertising dazzles in form without substance.
If for instance, an investment in advertising is targeted at image management among specific market segment, there must be agreed parameter to measure the return on that investment. By reason of statistical data, the effectiveness and efficiency employed in the management of that investment will reflect on the final appraisal.
Interestingly, advertising process appreciates that level of responsibility with practitioners, and has established a careful systematic approach building up to its service or product delivery. The entire strategic and creative process (with the back-check mechanism) is self-critical on propriety. A practitioner must determine the destination of every such engagement from the start-point; the process must identify the marketing or communication objective, the target audience, cost of engagement and anticipated result.
A culmination of the above makes up the parameter for value appreciation of advertising expenditure and agency, for advertiser. On target audience, for advertising service and product, advertising messages and product must inform, enlighten and advise for objective-drives buying decision-making; what is the benefit of an advertising messages if it is deceptive? Of what value is an advertising message accentuating the promises of a pharmaceutical product by a deceptive use of human model kitted in the costume of medical practitioner? Such deceptive use of models distorts the target consumer’s sense of judgment because of the natural believability attached to the person of a medical practitioner. Such deceptive use of models are forbidden in advertising but today we see them being used. They compromise the consumer’s safety and rights.
What is the value contribution of advertising practice and product to CONSUMERS’ wellbeing?
Brand owners must ask questions, institutional stakeholders must take responsibility towards protecting the consumer against bad quality advertising, and consumers must protect themselves against bad advertising products. Every advertising message must be put to the test to ascertain its level of credibility.
For instance, there are many consumer reward promotion campaign going on across media spectrum presently, but the fear is that many of them are not delivering on their promises. The Advertising Practitioners’ Council of Nigeria, the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) should find a way to determine the sincerity of such promises, for the interest of CONSUMERS. Advertising should be called accountability.