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THE DRAMATIC INTRIGUES OF ADVERTISING

The consolidation exercise in the banking sector has certainly thrown up new challenges in the industry. The principal aim of the reform, which, is to increase the capacity of Nigerian banks, to compete globally by not only shoring up their capital base but also improve their efficiency level, has also affected the advertising industry (The Punch: May 4, 2006). Though the reduction of the banks from 89 to 25 appear as a blessing in disguise as competition may not seem challenging to some of the banks, the banking industry has however realized that tougher competition still remains as customers will become very selective, choosing only from a limited, though effective variety of services offered. This seems to be one of the compelling reasons why a good number of Nigerian banks have merged to meet up with the reform requirement and also engage in various strategies to improve their bottom lines. Among these strategies is the aggressive advertising campaign some of these banks have been using to attract, retain and also maintain customers. Bank adverts are paving way for strategic approaches just as banks have begun to understand the need to commit reasonable budgets to increase brand building. Over the years, the goal of many advertisers has been to attract customers and yield maximum profit (Brand Faces Magazine: June, 2004). But with the competitive nature of the market, advertisers now know that to survive in the industry, one has to communicate effectively with customers. This, according to Daniyan (2005:40) involves good product positioning which requires finding a need that has not been met by a competing brand and plugging your product there. Advertisers now realize that to create happy, loyal customers, the firms must create a trend away from simple transactional marketing to relationship marketing i.e. creating, maintaining and enhancing long- term relationship with their customer (Stanton, 1995). This they can accomplish by making use of a potential advertising campaign to serve the multiple purpose of advertising: remind, inform and persuade people. To achieve this, advertising makes use of drama as a solid base for producing commercials that can leave a great impact on existing and prospective customers through the various channels of communication- television, radio and print. Drama is often referred to as a slice of life. It has become a tool in advertising to communicate messages a slice of life which identifies with every day life experience of the target customer with focus on the product being advertised. The experience drama tries to bring out usually has a great influence on the customers buying habit because they would want to identify with and experience the much publicized virtues of the product. Realizing how vital advertising and drama are to the acceleration of the creation of awareness and distribution of its products, a good number of banks now employ the services of several advertising agencies like Insight Communications, SO&U, STB McCann, 141, Prima Garnet etc. to aid the communication process. Some of the banks include BankPHB, Access bank, Intercontinental bank, Syke bank, First bank and First Inland Bank.

A vital point that has encouraged this paper is the immense use of drama in major banking adverts. The adverts dramaturgy has made them worthy of consideration. Due to the presence of theatre arts graduates in the creative departments in advertising firms, the competent role of drama in the communicative capacity and the affective potency of most post-1980 adverts are of great value. The relevance of this paper dwells on establishing the relationship between advertising and drama as reliable forms of marketing communications in any organization. What makes the dramatic technique a reliable form that can adequately communicate the intentions of these banks and why do agencies employ this technique over the years? The term drama has been used interchangeably with theatre. Drama is a universal phenomenon. It is neither culture-bound nor geography- specific and it transcends language barriers. It can be defined in many ways with its fundamental ingredients intact. Brockett (1964:7) sees drama as one of the arts of the theatre that is concerned with creating scenario, over all plan or complete script (with dialogues and directions for actions and stage effects) as a basis for performance. Drama, thus, is basic to the theatre since, virtually, every performance follows a preconceived plan. Ola Rotimi gives a detailed definition of drama: Drama is an imitation of an action or of a person or persons in action, the ultimate object of which is to edify or to entertain. Sometimes to do both (in Ogunbiyi, 1981:77). This means that for every dramatic action rendered, an underlying objective is present because according to Rotimi, dramatic displays that reveal in their style of presentation, in their purpose and value, evidences of imitation, enlightenment and, or, entertainment can be said to be drama. Umukoro (2002:5) defines drama as an integral aspect of individual self-expression and social communication. He goes further to say that drama produces creative communication and as a mode of human communication, it is possibly the oldest of the human arts that is concerned with action, with doing and seeing. Cohen (2000:9) explains drama by bringing out its distinct meanings separately from theatre. He says Drama tends to refer mainly to the plays produced and used in a move limited sense, to refer to dramatic texts: and acting improvising of situations (the process). He sees theatre as a word that denotes stage plays (the product), while drama refers to the process of enacting the plays. Drama, thus, can be seen as an art that permeates human lives. Life provides the raw material for drama through which problems are identified, solutions are proffered and actions are taken. It encourages people to make a decision and to perform an action. Drama, by nature, is a form of art. Art, as described by Huberman (1993:6), is the imitation of something natural or imagined. It involves imagination and creativity that aids in the manifestation of our images in an artistic and evocative form. Art is one way of ordering,

clarifying, understanding and enjoying experience. It has several forms with their individual forms and techniques and offers both significance and pleasure simultaneously. Of all the arts, the theatre is the one closely related to the patterns of normal experience. It is a form of art that nearly encompasses all of the other arts- dance, drama, music etc. Cameron (1996:10) explains that one can distinguish art from real life by an artists intention to create or craft something that will evoke a certain kind of response an aesthetic response from its audience. This means that artists know in a general way what they are trying to do and they possess a preparation and a discipline that allows them, within limits, to accomplish what they attempt. Artists intend their art to uplift their audiences rather than to have some immediate practical use in the world. Art unfolds in different ways-one of which is drama. Art, among other characteristics, is a form of entertainment and this is an area in which drama comes forth as a form through its recreation. It is arts capacity to give pleasure that has enabled it to command a large following. Drama is the art that is most apt to have an intellectual content which relates it to many areas of knowledge. It selects, arranges and gives emphasis to its various elements or components. The dramatist or playwright uses the material of art to get inspiration and write a play where character enact various actions for readers to respond to. In this same line, the copywriter of an advertisement gets inspiration, and knowing the nature of this unique art and employing his own creativity, he proceeds to use drama to get to his target audience. He uses the various elements of drama to get a unique form out of which significance comes. It is dramas ability as an art that draws the audience into a learning situation that has made it an art strongly recommended for advertisement creation. Drama gathers certain effects such as it increases empathy, heightens emotion and diminishes argument. Knowing an audiences response to a presentation depends on its form, the copywriter uses narrators who describe events and characters to perform or show the events. Brockett (1974:10), however, sees art as a platform whereby man seeks to understand his world. It shapes perceptions about human experience into forms that help to order our views about man and his world. This means that the artist who chooses to use art to communicate must evoke responses that directly involve the audience it (the art) is meant for. The involvement of the audiences emotions, imagination and intellect helps the artist communicate and this he does through numerous means, one of which is drama. Drama is thus a genre of literature that explores human experience in action. It performs both the formal and functional values of art which is to communicate, entertain and edify (Huberman 1993:24). This is a major reason it is employed by marketers, advertisers and theatre practitioners to pass across vital messages to their target audience. Its ability to cut across various disciplines like history, sciences and philosophy is hinged upon the fact that, as put by Brockett (1974:13), drama is the art most apt to have an intellectual content which relates to many areas of knowledge. From the foregoing, one may agree with Styan (1960:11) that any artificial picture of life must start from the details of actuality. An audienceviewer,

reader or listener- must be able to recognize it and re-experience the situation in order to respond. This is possible in drama as its nature as a performing art makes it stand out. Rotimi (2001:71) also agrees that drama brings on to the stage imitations of real- life situations that the audience can relate to and borrow ideas from. Irele as quoted by Rotimi (2001:80) buttresses this point by confirming that all forms of artistic expression, particularly literature, must possess a reference to human life and consciousness if they are to be of any significance to humanity. This means that any art should ensure that it makes great impact on the people to stimulate an action in them. Drama, as an art, has certain elements through which it makes great impact in peoples lives. These elements are used to inform, educate and entertain the audience. Aristotle (Cameron 1996:44) identifies these elements of drama which he calls the six parts of a play. They include the plot, character, idea, language, music and spectacle. These elements are parts of a system (drama); a network of interrelationships connected in such a way that a slight change in one can affect the others. They all have their respective responsibilities in ensuring that drama accomplishes what it aimed atcommunicating with the audience effectively and getting a response. Ogunleye (in Rotimi, 2001: 71), in stating the functions of drama, reveals that it is a propaganda play that identifies problems, proffers solutions and then urges action. Drama is a propaganda play that comes in form of dramatic sermon to set forth a certain ideology and proceed to manipulate the audiences belief. She further adds that the conscious utilization of content and form enables drama to pass across a message and convince audience of their commitment and sincerity. Drama, also, in its unique way helps to buttress the point that certain behaviours should be shunned through the characters it portrays in its enactment. This way, it stands to improve the individual and the society. Ezeoke (1995:27) explains that a form of drama known as the didactic drama is one in which the motive is the impressing of an idea on an audience. He adds that the drama sets out to educate, inform and instruct. In the same vein, Ekwuazi (1993) points out the function of drama: the intention of drama is not just to absorb interest or amuse but through its features of absorption of interest, aid amusement; it postulates a particular thesis the need to communicate as an art form (79). Kotler (2000:577) says the best advertising is done by satisfied customers. This is only possible by making use of appropriate advertising techniques that can best get to the hearts of the consumers in a way that creates brand loyalty, quick purchase and the recommendation of such product to others. The advertising technique deemed appropriate in this context is drama. Drama as an art form is a medium of communication. Its essential power of communication is what advertisers make use of when producing adverts. Dramas ability to represent real life using certain dramatic elements: dialogue, action etc., its demonstrative and plausible nature; how it appeals to consumer and help form a bond between the advertiser and the customer, its entertaining and didactic functions are the many reasons it is used to communicate with the

advertisers audience. Through this nature, drama helps to stamp the attributes of the advertised product on the memory of the audience. Advertising makes use of drama not just to sell its products but also to appeal to the consumers concerning other areas of their lives. Advertising agencies believe in the ability of drama to relate to the consumers life and his relationship with others. Daniyan (2005:93) advises that to make the drama in an advert come to life, the 3Cs of an advert should be adequately used. They are the credible content which is the story; credible cast i.e. the characters and credible communication which is the delivery. This means that the creation of the adverts using drama is as important as the form of communication. Since the primary mission of advertising is to reach prospective consumers, influence their awareness, attitudes and general buying behaviour, advertising should be related to drama to effectively meet the expectation of the consumers as well as achieve set objectives. Drama, however, communicates using a display of actions by some characters imitating an event. The satisfaction of these actions and words on the minds of the consumer is of great importance in the marketing of the product. This means that for advertising to be effectively used by the advertisers (client and agency), it has to be based on the principle of drama. Arens (1999:10) says that an advertiser who understands the process through which the consumer is motivated, can develop advertising objectives and messages using dramatic form that will most likely reach and make sense to the consumer. This is important as the success of any business depends on the patronage of consumers who make the final decision on the brand to be purchased. Drama, being an effective medium of propaganda can serve the purpose of advertisement. In relation to drama being a propaganda play, Ogunleye (in Rotimi 2001:72) says that (drama) manipulates the audiences mind and belief to convert them to the playwrights (copy writer in advertising) view point. This type of play encourages the audience (consumer) to take an active step and change their opinion in favour of the one being advocated through the play (advert)the drama is not mere entertainment or a piece of art for arts sake. The artistic elements it utilizes are meant to accelerate the move towards the ultimate goal-to convince and convert the audience to the plays (advert) point of view. Ogunleye has shown the relationship between drama, its elements and their effects on the audience to achieve an expected outcome. This is what advertising desires when it makes use of drama as a technique of propaganda. From the foregoing, both advertising and drama are tools of marketing used for communicating ideas, goods and services of both the theatre and any organization. They promote, inform, entertain and educate. Their common attribute as a communicative tool is why advertising agencies make use of drama in form of a story to advertise products. The agency recognizes the potency of drama as an art that can enhances the advert and draw the

audiences attention. Knowing that the target audience enjoys certain adverts because of their dramatic qualities, the advertisers never hesitate to use it. Although the adverts are entertaining in nature, they still have an underlying purpose which is to direct the consumers attention to the product and thus appeal to their emotional psychology towards purchasing the advertised product. Styan (1960:11) posits that the artificial picture of life must start from actuality. This means that the dramatic technique used by the advertising agency must have elements of plausibility on the minds of the consumers. The drama must enable the audience - viewer, reader or listener - go through an experience or the situation in order to respond to it and share with others. An understanding of the experience (dramatic) is necessary for the full appreciation of the drama in the advert. The dramatic structure consists of the dramatic elements and their arrangement in the advertisement. The dramatic technique was first introduced into the Nigerian advertising world by an advertising agency, Insight Communications, in the 1980s (Gandi 1997:42). This is as a result of the agencys knowledge of the effectiveness of drama in the society. Brockett (1964:31) explains that the dramatic technique takes the form of pure dramatization with a beginning, middle and an end. The components of drama give a rich dimension of creativity. They are of great importance in an advert. They must in their respective capacity, further the plot of the advert and be plausible to the audience. The audiences ability to enjoy the advert and get something from it will go a long way in increasing the popularity of the message and also cause a desire to share such an experience. Advertising today is not just satisfying them, they must be delighted. This is, however, achievable by making good use of drama as a technique and wisely combining the elements in it to attract, motivate and retain the customers. It is with the knowledge of the rich style of creativity which drama has, that Mr. Chima, the Senior Arts Director of Insight Communications, explained that advertising is not just about the product but holding on to the consumer and ensuring he is retained to the extent of encouraging others to use the product. He added that drama, in its unique art form, tells a story that captivates the audience and creates that urge to see an exposition of the story to the resolution stage. He described drama as the only means of capturing the audience perfectly, knowing the consumer intimately and also showing (apart from saying) the product and its attributes. The director believes that since the consumer is wiser and has more choices and there is the need to give the brand its own identity, drama is the best form of art that can creatively accomplish the desire of getting the consumer and carving a niche for the brand. Basically, there is the need to understand the consumer before thrusting adverts in their faces. They are clustered with different adverts that often leave them confused. Making researches and creating adverts that can best communicate with the audience goes beyond gathering people to do the job. It dwells also on the need to know the best form of

communication and the technique which is most appropriate. It is important to employ what can best grab the consumers attention immediately because he is bombarded with commercials every second. Adverts have gone beyond merely informing the consumers with the use of words. The proper actions must be incorporated as this is what will first appeal visually to the audience. This connotes that adverts do not dwell on the product alone but searches for means to hold on to the consumer and ensuring he is retained to the point of encouraging others. The recent banking adverts reveal that advertising has moved from the ordinary form to getting to the consumers through what he enjoys most. The adverts establish that since the people and the world as a whole is changing, advertising must change to meet with their demands world. Although these adverts appear strange to some people, they only reveal that advertising is changing along with the world. If people think they are new and unrealistic, they would be surprised to see and know that what they assume is new has been done before. So, the need to keep creating and developing innovative means of communication can never be overemphasized. Majority of the recent banking adverts now all reveal a robust knowledge and awareness about the theatre. They all belong in the theatre tradition, historical evolution and movement known as Futurism. But while they have been conceptually leaned towards the futuristic movement and tradition, other tradition of theatre such as expressionism and symbolism have been consciously integrated into the artistic process of their realization. These banks and advertising agencies, through the adverts created have shown that advertising as an art has certainly taken a new dimension in its form of communication which is achievable through drama. The earlier companies and advertising agencies realized this and so revised their communication strategies for improved results, the better for them. This has become necessary as consumers are becoming wiser and environmental issues are controversial. So, to keep the consumer, the communication strategy should be innovative and dynamic. It should keep the consumers wondering and asking for more. The future of advertising is challenging yet bright and unlimited. This is why researches can be conducted to look into the emerging trends as advert-drama metamorphoses into a unique artistic genre, as well as a strategic form of marketing and publicity in any organization that has success as part of its vision.

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