A recent report released in August by Media Reach OMD puts advertising spend by Nigerian companies for the year 2010 at N97.5b. It includes funds spent on TV, radio, outdoor and press advertising. The report also mentions an increase of 7.3% from 2009 figures as Nigerian businesses continue to use the media to promote the sale of their goods and services. As expected the telecom companies spent the most with Mtn spending over N7b and Globacom N4.5b on advertising alone. But one stat that arouses my attention is that of religious organisation. According to the report a total of about N2b was spent by religious bodies, including churches and mosques for the year 2010. From the amount, N1.52b was spent on TV ads, another N242m on Radio and N142m on print media. No wonder the our airwaves continue to be rammed by adverts from religious bodies everyday. With that kind of amount it is easy to see why radio and tv ads for religious bodies keep rising.
Religious bodies typically advertise to help draw attention to their activities and programs. These days, it is not just about informing your members. Competition is obviously stiff as rivals religious organisations attract new members. It is difficult to ascertain whether the churches are actually winning new converts, a situation that may have to a larger extent justified the spend. It is apparent that it is the same set of followers/worshipers that move from one organisation to the other, thus highlighting why it is important to keep promoting and expanding their reach. Usually, businesses advertise to attract new customers and also keep existing one informed as well. Like normal businesses where opportunity for growth lie in areas of new demand, religious bodies as well, need to attract newer members, whether converts or those leaving similar religious inclination. To do that attracts well targeted advertisement. I expect this figure to swell in 2011, as religious organizations posses an “inelastic demand” where no matter the situation in the economy people have reasons to listen and rely on their preaching. A man who has lost his source of livelihood may need them for words of encouragement and advice in the same vein as won who has just gained a new form of wealth. Nigerians take religion seriously and may be willing to change religious organization if they do not have a message that soothes their inelastic desires.
It is thus difficult to expect them to spend less on advertising . Sure, one would expect that if the N2b was spent on destitute’s and hungry on the street there may have been morally, better value derived. But that is so no possible, not with the heavy competition out there. Besides, several other small businesses depend heavily on advertising. From the small time printers who print fliers, to radio announcer, to signage man building signs. Big businesses such as Lastma, TV & Radio Stations, Newspapers etc. also derive immense economic benefit from them especially in this harsh times. We may be right to complain about the morality of spending so much on advertising but their “industry” just as yours face increasing competition daily and rely heavily on advertising to remain relevant and grow. Think about it!