‘African Outdoor Advertising Conference and Exhibition 2014’ organised by Lagos State Signage & Advertising Agency (LASAA) has come and gone. However, the echo is still very much around. In this interview with the Managing Director of LASSA, Mr. Kayode George Noah during the just concluded event, he spoke on a number of issues. Excerpt;
What are the reasons for organizing this event?
We have two statutory functions, firstly; to regulate and control signage and outdoor advertising in Lagos State and secondly to generate revenue for our stakeholders. The first function which is why we are doing this exercise is creating an enabling environment that will help us to achieve the two statutory functions that we will are saddled with.
We are also organizing this conference so as to bring all stakeholders to come and talk about the challenges facing us in the outdoor business across Africa, in Nigeria, and in Lagos State. We are also organizing this conference to look at the opportunities that exist, after we look at the challenges, we look at the opportunities, and we would like the association with all the stakeholders to continue beyond the conference and the exhibition we are having today. So every year, we want this to be a meeting point, where all the stakeholders will come together and share ideas. And we have people coming from different parts of the world; people from the United States of America, Holland, France South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, we want to share experiences with all these people from different parts of the world and to ensure that we have a very vibrant Outdoor sector in Lagos state, Nigeria and in Africa.
As the organizer; after this event, where would you stand?
We stand as a stakeholder; because it will create an enabling environment and we will be doing two things; and the first thing is that we’ll be able to regulate copies, and secondly able to generate revenues for our stakeholders. We have an industry that is facing a lot of problems concerning regulation and also concerning revenue generations. But at the end of this exercise we would have done several things, and one of which is making Lagos a conference designation area for everybody; because we are bringing people from different parts of the world, and they will be contributing into the Lagos State economy sector, and we have done that as you can see exhibitors from Netherlands, USA and so many other countries.
And secondly, we would have been able to raise the profile of Outdoor, because at the moment, in terms of Outdoor trend is losing ground to Radio and Television, we have to compete favorably and we need to raise the profile of Outdoor. But the problem facing outdoor advertising is right from when we do Mass Communication in University, because I’ve had opportunities of interacting with a lot of students and lecturers in some Universities across the country, and I have found out that; so many Universities have only one lecture for Outdoor in a four-year programme. An Outdoor is second to television, when it comes to Advertising trend, we need to raise the game and that is why I gave five complementary tickets to all the Universities where people study Mass Communication across the country, and for all of them to come and learn about Outdoor, and how we will raise the profile of this sector and at the end of the exercise, we brought people together, we learn a lot and it can only get better for the Outdoor industry when we do so.
In your estimation, would you say this year edition meet up with your expectations?
If you look at the things we do at LASAA, we raise our bar very seriously; such that we are never satisfied with whatever performance that we came out with. I have heard people paying us compliments on the exercise, saying well-done, we are not satisfied; and we want to do more, but being the first of its kind in this country, I think we haven’t done badly, we push ourselves to the limit, and I can assure you that, the next one that will come after that will be much better than this, because this is the same thing we did at the Lagos countdown in 2012, the 2013 is better than 2012, this is 2014 when we do it; the only thing I can assure anybody is that the 2015 will be better than that; but this will be done in the context of a period when we heard a lot of reports about bombs in Nigeria, the Boko Haram and so on. And we have people still coming from abroad, we have not done badly at all in our works.
This event is government sponsor programme or how did you generate fund for this big event?
This event is coming through the participation of the people at the conference, and also at the exhibition. But we have few sponsors and that is where the fund is coming from, and no other place.
In future to come and in terms of landscape of Lagos structure, how do you foresee outdoor advertising in Nigeria?
If you are talking about outdoor iconic structures, we already have in Lagos; there’s one located at Adeniji Adele; that is an iconic area for outdoor, where we have the largest LED structure in the whole of Africa, and we have them about 250m apart, we have already have an iconic Outdoor area in Lagos state. There are quite number of companies who are interested in doing iconic thing, and in short period of time, you will start seeing them; the leading beverage company, Coca-Cola is one of them, Samsung, and you need to be very creative when you are doing Outdoor and when you use iconic structure, it tends to drive home your message and your brand more powerfully than otherwise. And we are going to see more of it soon in this city. The reason we have this kind of exercise is that, as we bring in people from across the world to share knowledge, and right now I have the opportunity of interacting with some of the people from abroad. We are only talking about the differences in our outdoor and theirs, those from Kenya, France and so on, we can only learn from them and when it comes to iconic structures you are going to see more of that in Lagos at due posts.
Would ICT and Creativity help the Outdoor advertising sector?
The Outdoor advertising industry must be very creative, if it has to catch up with Radio and Television and ICT would help. Though, with ICT you can sit in your office and change the Advert on an LED screen without having to go and print flexes, ICT is playing a very major part, you can sit in your office and you can regulate the glare of an LED board, you can only do that with technology.
There is a convergence when it comes to ICT and creativity, but in the Outdoor industry, one of the things we talked about is to be very creative to compete favourably with other advertising platforms, and that is why we are encouraging things like replaceable, small cover, we now have the water advertising; the first of its kind in Africa in it berth in Lagos, we are thinking of Air Advertising, where people can use banners using small Aircrafts when they are doing product launch and so on, this is part of the creativity. We are looking at building projection, there is an exhibitor here who actually brought that here where you can project on buildings at night and use it for advertising, they are extremely creative people, and we just need an enabling environment to make them achieve their potentials.
To a very large extent, LASAA has done well in Lagos, but are you aware of any other states taking their cue from the agency?
I think quite a number of states are emulating what we are doing at LASAA in the country today. We have the likes Kwara, Kano, Bauchi, Cross-River, Edo, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo State. They are all emulating what we have done right in Lagos State.
When you speak with my counterparts in the other parts of the world, whether from Kenya or South Africa, they will tell you what we have been able to do in terms of a structured outdoor regulatory agency, makes us miles ahead of what they are doing. If you need to do Outdoor in Johannesburg, you will speak with like three different authorities. The same kind of scenarios that we have previously in Lagos. But I think if you do something right, it doesn’t matter which part of the world you are from, except people are not progressive, everybody wants to improve their environments and so on, but if you do anything that is right they would emulate you. In spite of the fact that we have our model, we are still learning other things from other places; international best practices, that is how best we can do it, other states are following too but, it is not easy to have one regulatory body in one state. A lot of states want to do it but, it takes a lot of political will to do it. I think so long as they see the benefits for having one single regulatory body in the state to regulate and control Outdoor and Signage, then we will have more and more states that are going to do so.