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  • Writer's pictureSteve Babaeko

Africa’s Growing PR And Advertising Industries And The Titans Leading The Charge

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

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Hold, buy or sell – forget oil. One of Africa’s foremost resources is its new media industry, merging technology with the continent’s formidable population, to attain a current worth north of $10bn.

At the centre of this remarkable growth in the budding sector is marketing communications: a discipline that encompasses advertising, public relations, and consumer marketing.

The Africa Report estimates that as of 2018, the Nigerian market contributes $4bn to the African marketing communications industry. Two key players in this market are BHM and X3M Ideas.

The former is a 13-year old agency managing some of the biggest PR accounts in-country and continent wide, including companies quoted in bourses on the South and West coast such as Multichoice, MTN and Nigerian Breweries.

X3M Ideas, on the other hand, is one of the biggest advertising agencies in Africa, renowned for a consistent stream of award winning works for household brands Globacom, Etisalat and Diamond Bank (now merged with Access Bank).

The two companies have defied expectations and continued to scale new heights in balance sheet and locational terms. With year-on-year revenue growth averaging 86% for BHM and 25% for X3M Ideas, the pair are steadily becoming integral to the continual growth of the marketing communications sector.

“At the helm of these companies are two veterans in Marketing Communications. Ayeni Adekunle, as CEO of BHM is one of the pioneers who led Nigeria into the digital-first strategy era of Marketing Communications,” says Kunle Bakare, Publisher of Encomium Magazine where Ayeni first had his stint as Journalist.

Named Nigeria’s PR practitioner of the year in 2017, Ayeni is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations UK (CIPR). His contributions to the marketing communication industry are strategically avant-garde, particularly his introduction of the Nigerian PR report – an annual, empirical analysis of the Public Relations sector, as well as BHM’s launch of the first PR app in Nigeria.

BHM itself was awarded PR agency of the year in 2017 and 2018 by the Lagos chapter of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations. Just as formidable is Steve Babaeko: the founder of X3M Ideas has over 20 years experience in advertising, and is currently the only Nigerian named in Adweek’s elite list of 13 Global Creative leaders in 2019.

Back home, he is the Vice President of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, AAAN, and for three years running, has served on the Grand Jury of the New York Advertising Festival, as well as being a keynote speaker at the just concluded 2018 International Advertising Association conference. Within six years of its launch, X3M Ideas has become one of the most profitable companies in Nigeria, recording a profit margin of 973% in 2015. In 2019, Babaeko announced “the South Central Africa project,” essentially the birth of X3M Ideas SA (PTY) Limited in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This audacious venture is consolidating X3M Ideas’ presence in the SADC region, primarily South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. “Between these men, we’re talking clientele that cuts across not just Africa but increasingly through brands domiciled in Europe and the Americas, as well as a combined earnings profile in billions,” said Moliehi Molekoa, Managing Director, Magna Carta South Africa.

By 2019, Africa’s entertainment and media market should double in value to estimated total revenue of US$8.1bn. Self-made creatives, Ayeni and Babaeko are indisputable proof that with the right skillset and a progressive team, Nigeria’s marketing communications industry has the potential to attain, and corner a multi-billion dollar piece of the pie.

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