Brand Property Leverage: MTN, Globacom Call for Pitches
By Tunmise Adekunle

In a bid to further leverage on strong brand properties and intensify competition, leading advertising agencies and event companies in Nigeria are now getting set for the Globacom advertising account and MTN event account pitches.

Globacom's account was recently thrown open after it reportedly severed its relationship with the Funmi Onabolu -led Bates Cosse, while MTN's was reportedly moved by the drive for improvement in its account handling by existing agencies.

THISDAY authoritatively gathered that the frosty relationship between Globacom and Batescosse which has been on for sometime reached its peak last December when Bates Cosse allegedly threatened to discontinue working on the Globacom account. THISDAY investigation further revealed that after much persuasion and dialogue , Bates Cosse eventually agreed to continue working on the account based on the agreement that the area of differences will be resolved by January , 2004 .

The January 2004 came and the Mike Adenuga led Globacom THISDAY exclusively gathered thrown the advertising account open for pitch.

Already front-line advertising agencies have been contacted for the pitch. As at press time, the Steve Omajafor led STB Mccan is said to be seriously preparing for the pitch, Enyi Odigbo led DDB Lagos is said to have done its presentation , while the Lolu Akinwunmi's Prima Garnet O&M was reportedly contacted, but declined the invitation for the pitch.

This will be the 5th time the Globacom advertising account will be moving with

the first movement was during the CIL days when Otunba Mike Adenuga was bidding for the GSM license alongside MTN , Econet Wireless and others, which MTN and Econet got. Then the Biodun Sobanjo led Insight\ Grey was single-handedly appointed to work on the account only for the agency to dump CIL for Econet Wireless, CIL having lost the bid for the GSM license

At the wake of the second bidding for the GSM license by Mike Adenuga with a new name , Globacom, a pitch was called which included O&M South Africa, LTC\JWT, Centrespread\FCB, Young & Rubicom and two others . Letters were later sent to JWT and Azagus South Africa as winners on the account. Azagus South Africa the second line agency of FCB came into the scene as a substitute of FCB due to FCB's inability to work on the account as the agency working on the Vodacom account in South Africa. Mike Adenuga was quoted to have preferred a foreign agency to work on the account or at least a Nigerian agency with foreign affiliation.

Interestingly after the panel reviewed JWT and Azagus Insight \Grey's eventually got the nod to work on the account without a pitch, having severed its earlier relationship with Econet Wireless and has floated a new media independent named Media Perspective as the Media Independent to work on the media buying for Globacom. With this development, JWT and Azagus lost out in circumstances they could not understand.

Some few month into a new relationship between Insight and Globacom, and few months to the roll out, the relationship between Globacom and Insight\Grey went sour due to irreconcilable differences, hence the account moved to Funmi Onabolu's Bates Cosse, that had to stop its handling of event for MTN.

Bates Cosse was said to have worked on the account on strictly defined terms of Mike Adenuga who for instance ordered Bate Cosse, against the normal practice, not to code any of the print campaigns , as according to him, Globacom reserves right.

Before the new development Bate Cosse has been working on the substantial part of the Globacom account, aside another South Africa's creative Hot shop.

All attempts by THISDAY to get an official position of Bates Cosse was abortive as its chairman Funmi Onabolu could not be reached as at press time, though its Executive Director who spoke with THISDAY on phone denied any severance with Globacom.

on the MTN event, THIS DAY checks revealed that the account which presently resides with ESPM, Tequila events and Bates Cosse that stopped working on the account, having got a Globacom deal is being thrown open to accommodate new ideas on MTN's events which has been one of the strongest properties of the MTN brand.

The search for MTN event account handlers dates back to MTN's pre- roll out days when it initially handed the account to now moribund Marathon Events that was floated in 2001 as an affiliate of Octagon Events, the event agency handling MTN Events in South Africa.

The gradual exit of Marathon Events which as a shock to MTN , industry watchers and players was as a result of the alleged management style of the managing director of Mr. Segun Giwa who THISDAY reliably gathered could not retire expenses spent on the account , could not grant credit facilities to clients against the practice, could not pay the board of directors, suppliers and Octagon's affiliation fees . Marathon that was a flying agency working also for Multi-Choice and some Nigerian Breweries PLC's brands like Gulder, Maltina and Amstel got the last hit when the chairman of the company reportedly scrapped the company.

After the demise of Marathon Events, South Africa's Mpitzo Maharapa who was seconded from Octagon South Africa to Marathon events before it's demise floated ESPM with the aid of Nigerian investor like Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN)'s president Dan Ngerem, tidied up the Octagon affiliation, got some young staff of Marathon Events and ESPM began work as the second agency to handle event for MTN

Based on the past experience, MTN was no longer comfortable with one agency , hence the pitch that eventually brought Tequila event and Bates Cosse's Town Criers on the MTN's event. Tequila was handling town launches, Cosse was handling internal launches while ESPM was saddled with the responsibility of handling every other businesses.

THISDAY checks revealed that ESPM is being recalled for a fresh pitch alongside Tequila events with already pencilled down outfits like : Event People , EXP Momentum, Chris Parkes Marketing Solutions(CPMS), and Saatchi & Saatchi's event & PR arm, Soul

There also wide speculation among industry sources and players that Octagon South Africa may be invited to work on the account directly alongside any of these events companies that are already expecting their invitation letters and are battlte ready for the estimated over 1 billion annual event account of MTN .

Industry watchers believe that these moves are strategic in the sense that the two telecom giants are stategising on how to leverage on their most potent brand properties, Globacom on advertising and MTN on events

The stage is set for another tussle for the over three billion Naira Globacom's first phase of advertising account and MTN's over N1 billion events account with the cloudy situation on what led to the frosty relationship between Bate Cosse and Globacom uncleared and whether MTN's event account will move.

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