Executives of the Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria, BJAN, the umbrella body of journalists covering brands and marketing communications activities in the country last Wednesday paid a courtesy visit to the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, AAAN, at its Alausa secretariat, Ikeja.

The visit aimed at strengthening ties with the advertising agencies is part of a series of activities lined up by the executives to strengthen alliances with stakeholders in the Integrated Marketing Communications sector.

Clara Chinwe Okoro, Chairman, Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria who led the BJAN delegates said the visit was necessary to re-align the association’s plan with the stakeholders and also revive the dampness surrounding the advertising sector in particular.

Other members of the BJAN delegation present were; Lukman Ishau, Vice Chairman, Adejuwon Osunniyi, General Secretary, Olufemi Adeyemi, Financial Secretary, Melvin Udosen, Treasurer, Amechi Obiakpu, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Goddie Ofose, Ex-officio and Godwin Anyebe.

“As an exco, our passion is to be able to bring some vibrancy from our sector as brand journalists back into the folds of things, and it will be reflected in the way we are going to start writing as a bloc so when we tackle brand events and projects, the stories would go viral, people would begin to feel the energy that a lot is happening between brands and AAAN.

“I always tell people that brands are more powerful than Governments. The reason is Governments come and go, but brands stay constant in interfacing with individuals daily and that is why we see the affinities that are created become very strong in economies that understand the powerful nature of brands, this is really what we want to present as a bloc this time to revive that passion in the industry,” said Clara.

Continuing, Clara hinted, “It is a long road we have walked as an organization – Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria and to be honest with you, we think a lot more should be happening in our industry, this also falls within our purview as those who form the bridge between the brand owners, the advertising agencies and the consumers and before this meeting kicked off, informally I have told you how I felt, there was a bit of dampness in the sector, and we need to revive it with vibrancy and I think collaboration is the way to go.

“In essence, the reason why I think AAAN is one of the most strategic to partner with is because you reflect the communication which we actualize when we write. When communicating with the consumers, we break it down in terms of when they consume what we write, they can understand the brand that they are told to connect with in subliminal ways through Advertising.”

She listed three specific areas that she expected the collaboration with the advertising agencies to be hinged on.

“There are three main things I want to table for your consideration as AAAN:

“The issue of getting to universities and being able to groom the next set of brand writers may be the first three winners after a competition. They will be unveiled at our annual conference in November, and we get brands to give them the categories of prizes for their efforts, and we want a major partnership with AAAN on that. All we want is when they are coming out let the major newspaper houses be waiting to poach them as brand writers or even agencies as copywriters.

“The next is being able to be seen as BJAN in reflective terms. And it goes like this, you as agencies will be able to help us communicate what we do to a larger audience through Advertising. We can say we will design graphics, but it still does not communicate what we do. So, maybe once in a while as a form of CSR, you can assist us in designing some communication materials that we can go to our partner media agencies to carry for us as advertising in the long run.

“We don’t have an office as BJAN, and it’s being a long route for us to go through. We want to own our own office, which is one of the strategies I think you will help us consider on how to achieve this. We have birthed a Newsletter from BJAN, and we called it BRAND KNIGHTS, every month we take a CEO, who are the brand drivers, we interview them, and they articulate their vision, goals and their journey so far as CEO’s. They are the ones driving organizations, they are shaping narratives, it will be a voice for CEOs to connect with their audiences, we are going to get a database of all the CEOs, who will be reading this Newsletter which will flow down eventually to other target audiences. But they will be our primary target. So, every month if they open their Newsletter, they hear from a particular CEO, his or her thoughts, what is driving his or her brand and share his or her knowledge in those interviews.”

In his reaction, the President of AAAN, Steve Babaeko said collaborations have always been one of the best avenues to achieve huge success, and he was excited about the visit.

“The thing is that with BJAN, for me, it’s a long history of working together, and I am super happy that even though Madam Chairman is the second Female Chairperson of the association, it is just refreshing to have a woman at the helm of affairs, we think that is very important and for us as well for the first time in almost 50 years of AAAN history, we also have a woman running the Secretariat.

“It is a new dawn for a new collaboration between BJAN and AAAN and there are some powerful ideas that Clara has muted and shared with me that I am sure you can rest assured that I am open to taking it further.

“There are so many big-ticket items that are ahead of us. We have the AAAN AGM coming up in July, the 50th anniversary of AAAN in 2023, so we have pockets of opportunities to be able to help BJAN as a bloc to put out there,” Babaeko said.

In response to the collaboration request submitted earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of X3M Ideas Ltd, one of the leading advertising agencies in the country said they were key areas that the agencies would love to be involved in.

“I think on those points, consider them done. So that we can formalize it, just do us a letter, and we will find a way to activate it. That is the kind of support we can do.

“It is a good idea (especially 3), once we get the appropriate notification, our members will be able to participate and if you are having challenges anywhere, just let me know. We have a way of talking to ourselves” he noted.

On his part, Lanre Adisa, Chief Executive of Noah’s Ark and Ex-officio of AAAN said collaborations are where the world is leaning towards today.

“For me, that is where the world is today, I mean everyone is collaborating. You don’t need any kind of tough protection, that wouldn’t take us anywhere. I am open to collaboration. When you were listing the possible things you could do, one thing I think we should be looking at together is how BJAN can come up on LAIF Awards.

“There should be a serious collaboration with LAIF Awards. The nature of how it will work and all that should be what I am sure we will love to take further. A lot is happening, we have decided that every November, LAIF should be happening and not a case of when it will happen. And we have done that for the last few years consecutively. So, if it’s something you will love to consider, we will love to sit down with you and look at all the sides. That, I think will be a good start as we look forward to a wonderful collaboration between BJAN and AAAN,” he said.

The meeting ended with a vote of thanks from the Executive Director of AAAN, Kemi Fabusoro.

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