Home Interview IMCs hasn’t done a better job of persuading clients to spend during adverse operating environment, says  Gbenga X Adebija

IMCs hasn’t done a better job of persuading clients to spend during adverse operating environment, says  Gbenga X Adebija

by Goddy Ofose
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Gbenga X Adebija is a multi-disciplinary administrator, technocrat and Business Leader. He has over 27 years of top level work experience in both the private and public sectors in Nigeria. Adebija has a widely acclaimed track record for excellence and purpose-oriented leadership.
Adebija is an alumnus of University of London, University of Ilorin, Nigeria Institute of Journalism and the Lagos Business School. He also received broad-ranging business education around the world especially in the USA, UK, Denmark, Holland, France, Poland, UAE, China, India, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Republic of Benin, Singapore and Nigeria.
After his post-graduate studies, he worked for Cadbury Schweppes between 1993-2007 where he occupied various leadership roles at local, regional and global levels as well as auxillary responsibility for organisational initiatives in areas such as Human Resources, Administration, Corporate Strategy, Marketing, Business Development and Corporate Communication for the Europe, Middle East and Africa operations of the multi-national company.
In 2003, he won the AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE, the highest and most prestigious Award in Cadbury for consistently excellent performance over a period of 10 years and was a key member of THE BEST PERFORMING TEAM in 2002.
Adebija is also a recipient of numerous local and international awards including the prestigious Global Brand Excellence Award in 2013 conferred by the World Brand Congress in Singapore.
He served as SA to a Federal Minister, providing support in the areas of Organizational Communication, Operational Integration and Strategic Planning.
He has an impressive media profile spanning over three decades across the print, electronic and social media (including being a panel judge on THE INTERN, a business reality show) radio presenter and contributor/columnist for several major Nigerian newspapers.
Adebija is a member of Ikoyi Club 1938 and zonal leader of the Knights of St. Mulumba (KSM). He is married to Yetunde and they are blessed with three children.

How would you describe the IMC industry in 2020?
Like most sectors, it was impacted by the global pandemic which required all stakeholders and major players to review their playbook and reinvent themselves in order to remain relevant. It also provided an excellent opportunity for the sector to engage in a comprehensive and broad-ranging evaluation of key imperatives and a thorough examination of the fundamental practices and operating philosophies. Hopefully the outcome of all of this should lead to greater standards of stakeholder value now and in the future.
There was a lot of expectation in the first quarter of 2021, but second wave of COVID 19 seems to have scuttled that. What is your forecast for the industry in 2021?
Lessons have been learnt from last year and these insights should be creatively deployed to ensure a much better outing in 2021. It is unfortunate that IMCs are usually the most adversely impacted whenever there is an industry downturn. However, this is a perennial occurrence and it is expected that by now IMCs should have adjusted to this situation. It goes back to what I previously shared about a comprehensive review of the business to achieve appropriate scaling in the relevant areas in order to achieve business continuity. By now, IMCs must have intrinsic flexibility and adaptability as well as implementing innovative solutions during periods of diminished activity.
Any serious IMC player must have prepared extensively for 2021 based on the 2020 scenarios so I confidently expect a much better outlook for 2021 despite the prevailing pandemic.

Advertising has suffered greatly since the outbreak of the Coronavirus early last year. What are the options for the agency owners?
By now it would be expected that all IMC players would have strategically reviewed their operations and refocused better on value benefits for stakeholders. Internally, there has to be a review of manning levels, skill audits, internal capabilities, profitability, work methods, business process and all other essential aspects of business sustainability. Externally, agencies must consider partnerships and alliances, client profiles, service standards, client requirements and other key elements of the ecosystem within which they operate in order to deliver on stakeholder expectations.
Due to lack of productions, clients have cut-down on marketing communications budget. What should an average manufacturing firm do to sustain drive in the marketplace despite dwindling revenue?
Actually, it is during periods of diminished economic activity that manufacturers need to increase visibility, boost brand profile and achieve the greatest social capital with stakeholders so that they actually become the brand of choice. IMCs may not have as yet, done the best job of persuading their clients of the transcendental opportunities in an adverse operating environment.
Government has been criticised for not being able to communicate properly during this crisis time. As a communication specialist, how well can this be done?
I have had the privilege of engaging with the Presidency several times as well as with state governments on this particular issue, and it is obvious that there is a massive skills gap which needs to be filled. It starts with an awareness of a gap in the skill set in the public sector and therefore the need to bring in the relevant capabilities either through the process of knowledge transfer or as installed capabilities.

Let’s look at PR sub-sector of the IMC. How well or bad has the industry been? What can the practitioners do to improve upon it?
As with other sub sectors of the IMC, the PR industry was also adversely impacted but experientially this is familiar territory and it is expected that PR practitioners would have devised the relevant initiatives as coping mechanisms. The broader issue is how PR needs to position itself as an integral aspect of business and a core priority for the achievement of company objectives.
Which of the IMC sub-sector has suffered more – core advertising, experiential marketing or PR, and why?
It is difficult to make that determination without access to the relevant statistics. However, by deductive reasoning, the various subsectors would be proportionately impacted based on market share.

You have been a bit quiet in the industry sir; what is your next move?
In the last few years I have been mostly focused on promoting bilateral trade between Nigeria and Germany as well as the UK. This has been a significant chapter in my career because of the broad-ranging exposure to key players in these geographies and a better understanding of the dynamics of multi-lateral institutions. I am on the board of CBI Television a cable TV station which should debut soon. I am working with an agency to animate some storylets I have written over the years into a TV series and I am involved in all kinds of projects within and outside Nigeria at varying levels of implementation.

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