Poster Awards: End Of An Era?
A Call To Salvage OOH Sub Sector
By Janet Udogu
We are often critical of shoddy awards ceremonies that enthrone and crown mediocrity at the expense of sterling and excellent performance. It is not surprising therefore, when such awards unceremoniously wind up in the dustbin of history. It is a huge relief. Good riddance to bad rubbish. It is however, worrisome when a prestigious award ceremony that is characterised for its integrity goes into limbo not for lack of creativity but for stifling regulations and dwindling economic situation.
This is the exact case of Nigerian Out of Home, OOH, advertising sub sector; the greater part of people who patronise the media are swiftly making a detour into other media platforms, notably social media, either because the platforms are less problematic or expensive. What becomes of OOH if the situation is not salvaged?
It is almost one year since the last edition of Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria, OAAN, Poster Awards was held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
A reliable source and member of OAAN who pleaded anonymity revealed to Brand Communicator magazine that the Poster Awards for 2017 will not hold. In his words: “I know that you are aware that Poster Awards will not hold this year. I mean how can it hold? Not with the present state of the industry and economy. Where could we have gotten the money to host the awards? There is no business anywhere. We are only trying to keep our head above the waters and hope.”
As we recall the 10th edition of Poster Awards and apropos of the above therefore, it makes more sense why the organisers of the event chose the theme: Strengthening Our Partnership.
Recollect that Tunde Adedoyin, President, OAAN, in a welcome speech presented at the last edition said that Poster Awards is the most celebrated event of the OOH subsector which has been dedicated to acknowledge and appreciate creativity in the Nigerian advertising industry. In his words: “It is a unique event to us because it affords us opportunity to formally and openly commend and reward those who create the messages that are exposed on our various platforms.”
Adedoyin however, decried the current state of the subsector. He seized the opportunity to equally reveal some of the challenges facing the OOH subsector of the Nigerian economy.
“Primary among the issues that have seriously challenged our practice is the emerging unfriendly environment to profitably engage in outdoor advertising practice in Nigeria, occasioned by the almost suffocating regulations, very high financial demands by way of outrageous and unjustifiable permit and policies of the Signage and Advertisement agencies and their likes, that have now mushroomed across the country both at the state and the federal level.
“This as should be expected is not without the drawback on our practice; and the major effects of these include that most of our hitherto major clients have now cut down drastically on their budget or have, in some instances, out rightly abandoned us for other media platforms, notably the social media because they are less problematic, and of course, less expensive.”
Lamenting the effect of the challenges of the industry, the OAAN president said that their dependants as well as those of their employees in their hundreds of thousands are already badly affected. “Because we are losing businesses, our employees are also at the verge of losing their jobs,” he added.
Envisaging the effect on the Nigerian economy, the OAAN boss stressed that “Outdoor Association of Nigeria are employers of labour. And of the multiplier effects of the emerging scenario is that the already highly populated unemployment environment will become more challenged. “
He therefore, seized the opportunity to plead with governments at all levels to take another look at the existing policies with a view to making the operating environment friendlier for their practice.
“We do not object to regulation but we plead that government at the various levels should relax the prevailing experience, and should not take any step that will further strangulate our practice and send us out of business,” Adedoyin pleaded.
Lending his voice on the outcome of the challenges facing outdoor practitioners, Biodun Shobanjo, Chairman, Troyka Group explained that in a non vibrant economy, one of the first casualties is the integrated marketing communications sector. Shobanjo made this known while delivering a paper titled “The Indices of a Vibrant Economy: Outdoor Advertising as a Catalyst” also at the 10th annual OOAN Poster Awards.
The Troyka Chairman reemphasized that over regulation is killing the industry, noting that no global outdoor organization would want to practice in Nigeria because the regulations would kill them. He further stated that the proliferation of outdoor agencies in the face of dwindling patronage would lead to the closure of some agencies and job losses.
In the words of Bob Marley, great singer, musician, songwriter and Rastafarian reggae superstar, I ask: “How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?” or is it also “a part of the book we’ve got to fulfil?”
Most practitioners in this sub sector are yet to fully recover from the onslaught in the Federal Capital Territory in 2003, which was compounded by the coming of the Signage and Advertisement Agencies. And most of the outdoor agencies are only managing to stay afloat in the murky waters of present economic situation. It is on this premise that stakeholders advise government to act fast before the outdoor advertising sector goes into extinction.