The Pitcher Talks are a series of keynote presentations and panel discussion sessions held during the Pitcher Festival of Creativity, where seasoned professionals from various sectors of the creative communications industry discuss topical issues in the industry, especially as it affects the African region.
This year, the Pitcher Talks took place on 2nd and 3rd July, 2020. It consisted of five keynote presentations and five panel discussions sessions. On day one, we had the following:
PROSPERITY AND AFRICAN CREATIVITY: IN SEARCH OF OUR WAKANDA - DR. TUNJI OLUGBODI,
This a solo speaking session was centered on how African creativity can contribute more to the continent’s GDP, and be fully developed as a source of prosperity for the African people. Dr. Tunji outlined the major barriers to achieving this, emphasizing the lack of sustainable structure as the biggest challenge. But he stressed that things are getting better, and that we are now more than able to tackle those challenges and make Africa a wealthier continent.
He said, “We have our issues and our challenges, but the truth is, Africa is indeed on the rise…We just need to change our narrative and strengthen the structures that help us tell our stories in the right way, at the right time, and to the right people.”
HOW WILL THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY IN AFRICA FARE UNDER THE AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENT?
In this panel discussion, panelists debated the key components of the AfCFTA as it affects the creative industry, including its tarriffs, competition policies, and intellectual property. They also voiced their appreciation and reservations towards the Agreement, and the demands it will place on the creative industry of individual countries and Africa as a whole. All panelists agreed that while the AfCFTA is a welcome move, it is only one small step, because we still have a long way to go in uniting the African creative industry. It was suggested that the countries involved in the agreement should take time to identify their individual strengths and weaknesses in order to bring their best to the intra-continental market and make sure their work reflects the best parts of them.
CREATIVITY AND GOVERNANCE – WHAT CAN GOVERNMENTS DO TO PROMOTE THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY AND HOW CAN CREATIVITY HELP ENDEAR THE PEOPLE TO THE GOVERNMENT.
The panelists deliberated extensively on the current state of the government’s relationship with the creative industry in the African context. They agreed that the creative industry has so much to offer the government in terms of revenue generation, policy promotion, and job creation. However, apart from setting up a few regulatory bodies, the government has more or less ignored the creative sector, and the industry is thriving mainly through individual effort. They urged the government to provide more support for the creative industry in terms of funding and access to credit. They also emphasized the need for younger people in governance, who will better be able to relate with young creatives.
“The creative sector is one sector that is closest to the people which the government is trying to govern,” said Yinka Adebayo. “There is nothing as good as appealing to people with their own passion.”
This Pitcher Talks session brought together members of the Noah’s Ark Communications team, and Maltina, one of their client brands, to discuss the inspiration behind the “Happiness” theme in their “Share Happiness” campaign.
They discussed how they arrived at the theme, and the importance of finding happiness in the little things in life while waiting for the big things to happen. The topic is especially relevant in a time like this when the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a global recession, making both the present and the foreseeable future look rather bleak.
The panelists also identified trust, openness and functional competence as the elements that lead to better agency-client relationships.
The second day sessions were as follows:
ELECTION HACK- HOW TO WIN ELECTIONS IN AFRICA
In this solo session, Adebola Williams, CEO, Red For Africa, gave creative communications practitioners useful tips on how to successfully handle an electoral portfolio, with a larger view of helping Africa build its democracy. One of the things he stressed was the need to present something new to the audience.
He said: “You must never forget to paint a newer, different, bigger picture. Every day people are looking for something new. The achievements of yesterday are for yesterday.”
Adebola also admonished them to handle their candidate like they would a product, to engage the masses with their own voice and to capitalize on certain emotions and media to motivate the audience to act in their candidate’s favour.
CREATING A BETTER AFRICA
CREATIVITY TO THE RESCUE: RAISING CONSCIOUSNESS FOR SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS.
This panel focused on climate change as it affects Africa, and the role of the creative industry in making Africans more climate-conscious. The panelists strongly emphasized the need for increased consciousness of environmental problems, and the need for mass education on ending climate change.
Alero Balogun said: “People need to be educated on what they should and should not be doing. But the government cannot do everything on its own. The private sector should also step in to teach individuals that we have an important role to play in ending climate change.”
Mr Desmond Majekodunmi recommended that since an overwhelming majority of Africans are religious, churches and mosques should be involved in raising consciousness on issues affecting our climate. He also acknowledged the importance of popular music in creating awareness on these issues, and motivating people to act.
UNLEASHING THE POWER OF CREATIVITY FOR CHANGE
In this session, Nduneche Ezurike, Head Strategic Brand Management, Polaris Bank, educated us on the hitherto underestimated capacity of creativity to drive positive change.
He said, “The creative industry in the country is currently one of the most marginalized sectors…Most of our leaders today do not recognize the need to harness creativity, and this makes things very difficult.”
Nduneche advised the government and other corporate organizations to partner with the creative sector to drive positive change. He also walked us through the process of generating creative thoughts, and explained how the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, though devastating, provides creatives with a golden opportunity to tell new stories.
JURY PRESIDENTS' ROUND TABLE
Here, the Pitcher Awards jury presidents reviewed the works entered for the 2020 Pitcher Awards, commenting on the areas where they were impressed and the areas that still need to be worked on. Ivan Johnson encouraged agencies to pay more attention to the packaging of their work; Fiona Uwagwu urged them to gain a clearer understanding of their target audience and how they intend to use the media to reach them; while Austin Efienamokwu suggested that the agencies’ metrics for measuring the success of advertising campaigns should be improved on. The jury presidents also talked about what they expect to see in creative campaigns of the future.
HOW BRANDS ARE LEVERAGING ENTERTAINMENT TO REACH AUDIENCES IN NEW WAYS.
Bada Akintunde-Johnson, Country Manager at ViacomCBS Network Africa, and Fade Ogunro, CEO BookingsAfrica.com. This session was also moderated by Collins Teke. The panelists talked about the different strategies brands could use, and are currently using, to reach their audiences from the entertainment angle, especially in the context of the new normal imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both panelists reiterated the importance of rising digital platforms like TikTok as a means through which brands can reach and engage their audience, and suggested ways to facilitate digital adoption and inclusiveness. They also predicted how the relationship between brands and entertainment could change in the future. In conclusion, both panelists urged brands to come to terms with the fact that things may never be the same again, and to look for innovative ways to reach their audiences especially through digital media.
NAVIGATING THE NEW NORMAL AND GETTING READY FOR THE NEXT NORMAL
In this webinar, Patrick Gommes, CEO of DigitXplus Nigeria, guided advertising and marketing communications agencies on how to help brands find their feet again in the current economic disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how to prepare for the meltdown that is sure to follow in coming days.
Among other guidelines, Patrick Gommes advised brands to give more attention to consumer service, look out for shifts in consumer buying habits, defend their share-of-voice, and build strategic alliances.
THE HERO TRAP
In discussing his new book “The Hero Trap”, Thomas Kolster talked about the growing trend of brands taking the hero stance and attaching themselves to critical social issues like diversity, ocean plastics, the COVID-19 pandemic, etc in a show of “saving the world”. He observed that this trend has been increasingly unsuccessful, because people are “just not buying it.” Kolster argued that instead of playing the hero, brands should focus on giving people the confidence to bring about the needed change.
“The market is changing," said Thomas Kolster, “People are no longer just buying what you make or how you make it. They are increasingly buying who you can help them become…Meaningful brands need to play that significant role in people's lives, where they help people achieve their dreams and aspirations.”