OUT­DOOR AD­VER­TIS­ING: LASAA’S LEASE OF LIFE

LASAA is com­mit­ted to the growth of the out­door ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try, ar­gues Idowu Omisore

THISDAY - - COMMENT -

The out­door ad­ver­tis­ing sec­tor is un­de­ni­ably a key com­po­nent of Nige­ria’s cre­ative econ­omy but fraught with chal­lenges. Re­search has shown that 60 per cent of the coun­try’s to­tal ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket is domi­cilled in La­gos State. It is a sec­tor that ac­counts for N58.9 bil­lion turnover yearly and is re­spon­si­ble for over 100,000 peo­ple in its work­force con­tribut­ing hugely to the rev­enue of the na­tion. As such, the sur­vival of the out­door ad­ver­tis­ing sec­tor is a mat­ter that can­not be tri­fled with. Over the years, the in­dus­try has been be­dev­illed with a myr­iad of prob­lems, some of which have be­come his­tor­i­cal de­spite sev­eral in­ter­ven­tions by stake­hold­ers. A case in point is the ef­fort made by the man­age­ment of the La­gos State Sig­nage and Ad­ver­tise­ment Agency (LASAA). Early in the year, the agency’s man­age­ment team went on a fact-find­ing-cum-fa­mil­iari­sa­tion visit to a good num­ber of out­door ad­ver­tis­ing firms. The mis­sion was clear: to find out the chal­lenges fac­ing the in­dus­try and pos­si­ble ways of re­solv­ing them.

As widely re­ported in the me­dia, LASAA later or­gan­ised a stake­hold­ers’ meet­ing to ad­dress the burn­ing is­sues. Ac­cord­ing to the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the La­gos State Sig­nage and Ad­ver­tise­ment Agency, Mr. Mobo­laji Sanusi, “In our ef­forts to en­sure san­ity…it is im­por­tant to find last­ing so­lu­tions to some of the is­sues that have be­dev­illed the out­door ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try….” This is a com­mend­able move by the La­gos State Gov­ern­ment. No one should be sur­prised that LASAA de­cided to rise to the oc­ca­sion as no re­spon­si­ble reg­u­la­tory agency would fold its arms and watch the grad­ual qui­etus of a sec­tor with such huge po­ten­tial.

From all is­sues dis­cussed at the par­ley, it be­came ap­par­ent that the re­pug­nant is­sue of me­dia buy­ers is the real Go­liath, not LASAA as per­ceived in some quar­ters. The out­door ad­ver­tis­ing prac­ti­tion­ers voiced their con­cerns and spoke of how the me­dia buy­ers have re­fused to pay them as at when due and that some go as far as dis­count­ing their pay­ments. This sit­u­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to them, has im­pacted neg­a­tively on their abil­ity to pay per­mit fees due to LASAA, rea­son be­hind the huge debt owed to the agency. Re­act­ing to the ap­peal made by Mr. Tunde Ade­doyin, the Pres­i­dent of the Out­door Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (OAAN), Mr. Mobo­laji Sanusi ex­plained that the agency would be will­ing to sup­port the fight against the un­fair pay­ment prac­tices of me­dia buy­ers but that the agency would be cross­ing its bound­aries, if it gets it­self di­rectly in­volved in col­lect­ing pay­ments from me­dia buy­ing firms for the out­door ad­ver­tis­ing prac­ti­tion­ers as sug­gested by one of the lead­ing prac­ti­tion­ers.

He fur­ther stated that LASAA does not reg­u­late me­dia buy­ers. As stip­u­lated in Sec­tion 387 of the har­monised En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment and Pro­tec­tion Law 2017, LASAA’s job is to con­trol out­door struc­tures to be used for sig­nage and ad­ver­tise­ments; pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment from po­ten­tial ad­verse im­pact from vis­ual blights; con­trol the num­ber, size and lo­ca­tion of out­door struc­tures. There are other con­nected func­tions but the ones al­ready men­tioned will suf­fice.

It is high time the Me­dia In­de­pen­dent Prac­ti­tion­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (MIPAN) looked into the un­eth­i­cal prac­tices of some of its mem­bers. In other climes, where global best prac­tices are ad­hered to, pay­ments are made to out­door ad­ver­tis­ing firms 30 days af­ter the is­suance of the me­dia pur­chase or­der and ex­e­cu­tion of the project. The

ONE WOULD HAVE EX­PECTED THE NIGE­RIAN ME­DIA BUYER AF­FIL­I­ATES TO IMBIBE THE CUL­TURE OF 30 DAYS PAY­MENT. SADLY, THIS IS NOT THE CASE

in­ter­est­ing sit­u­a­tion is that some of the me­dia buy­ing agen­cies are af­fil­i­ated to for­eign me­dia in­de­pen­dents. One would have ex­pected them, the Nige­rian me­dia buyer af­fil­i­ates, to imbibe the cul­ture of 30 days pay­ment. Sadly, this is not the case. It is dis­turb­ing that 30 days is now turn­ing to 60 days, 60 days to 90 days, and now even turn­ing to­wards 120 days. This is not the only di­men­sion to this is­sue. Af­ter ex­e­cu­tion of the cam­paigns, to­tal amount payable to the out­door ad­ver­tis­ing firm is heav­ily dis­counted by the me­dia buy­ing agency. The out­door ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany gets a cheque with an amount com­pletely dif­fer­ent from the one on the me­dia pur­chase or­der (MPO) – an amount dras­ti­cally re­duced. This is an un­speak­able de­vel­op­ment that needs to be ad­dressed im­me­di­ately by both MIPAN and the Ad­ver­tis­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (ADVAN). There seems to be a con­spir­acy of si­lence by all par­ties.

One would have ex­pected the Ad­ver­tis­ing Prac­ti­tion­ers Coun­cil of Nige­ria (APCON), the um­brella body that reg­u­lates ad­ver­tis­ing prac­tice and pro­fes­sion in Nige­ria, to have iden­ti­fied and dealt with this in­tractable prob­lem long be­fore now, con­sid­er­ing the fact that OAAN is seen as a “trade union” un­der APCON to reg­u­late the out­door ad­ver­tis­ing prac­tice in Nige­ria. Based on the fore­go­ing, this writer com­pletely agrees that LASAA can­not en­gage me­dia buy­ers di­rectly, that would be go­ing be­yond its brief as a reg­u­la­tor. OAAN has to first step up to the plate be­fore it can ex­pect any back­ing, con­sid­er­ing the fact that there are other stake­hold­ers like the MIPAN, ADVAN and APCON in­volved in this chain.

The high­point of the stake­hold­ers’ meet­ing or­gan­ised by LASAA was the for­ma­tion of a 15-mem­ber com­mit­tee. The com­mit­tee swung into ac­tion, met sev­er­ally and came up with points of agree­ment. Hav­ing con­sid­ered the clam­our by prac­ti­tion­ers that LASAA rates are ar­bi­trary and not em­pir­i­cally ver­i­fi­able, also that busi­ness has been bad due to re­ces­sion cou­pled with clients cut­ting down on ad­ver­tis­ing bud­gets, and the com­plaint that me­dia buy­ers are dis­count­ing their pay­ments; the rates have been re­duced as promised by LASAA. Ac­tions, they say, speak louder than words.

By ful­fill­ing its prom­ise to lower the per­mit and va­cant board rates, LASAA has proved the fact that it wants to ease the bur­den of out­door ad­ver­tis­ing prac­ti­tion­ers and pro­mote the growth of the in­dus­try. In a let­ter from OAAN, the body has since ex­pressed its grat­i­tude and ac­knowl­edged the re­spon­sive­ness of the cur­rent man­age­ment of the agency. In their words, “…we must ap­pre­ci­ate your sen­si­tiv­ity and re­spon­sive­ness to the ad­verse ex­pe­ri­ences of your con­stituents and ad­mit that your timely in­ter­ven­tion has in no small mea­sure, in­fused life into the out­door ad­ver­tis­ing sec­tor.”

Mov­ing for­ward, OAAN needs to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the fu­ture of its in­dus­try by show­ing sin­cer­ity and com­mit­ment in deal­ing with the chal­lenges af­fect­ing the sec­tor. For a long time now, OAAN per­ceived the La­gos State Sig­nage and ad­ver­tise­ment agency as the preda­tor that wants to kill the out­door ad­ver­tis­ing busi­ness but events have proved oth­er­wise. LASAA, on the other hand, should ac­com­mo­date OAAN, a plea made by the body. While mak­ing ef­forts to cre­ate a favourable en­vi­ron­ment for the out­door ad­ver­tis­ing busi­ness to flour­ish, LASAA should con­tinue to do its best to be a lis­ten­ing reg­u­la­tor. Omisore, an ad­ver­tis­ing buff, wrote from La­gos

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