From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Mrs. Adeola Odesanya is the Chief Executive Officer of Benevolence Treasures Limited. The advertising agency recently inaugurated an electronic billboard at the Mokola Roundabout, Ibadan, Oyo State. She spoke with Daily Sun thereafter. Excerpts:
How did the electronic board come about?
We wanted to have electronic billboard and we were looking at where to buy. We looked the way of China because it was cheaper to buy there. But, again we surfed the Internet, and we finally resolved to look the way of Europe, and that doubled the price.
So, we took that plunge and we bought from Netherlands. It took three years to achieve this project from the conception stage to what we have today. We started from N200 to a dollar and we thought we would be able to get loans from bank. Based on foreign exchange, for one year, we could not access funds. We did everything we could and necessary, it was very frustrating.
At the end of the day, we had to go to the black market with N400, or thereabout. It was uncomfortable. But we ended up buying at N480.
We just felt we should get enough naira and the naira too was not flowing, business ceased to be what it used to be. It was really very trying. It is just something we could not abandon mid-way. We believe in resilience and doggedness. It was really tough. We thank God this is where we are. God has helped us.
How much did it cost you to get this project done?
We spent a little above N90million.
What makes this billboard different from others?
When it comes to business, you will put out your Unique Selling Point (USP). Of course, we want to be counted as one of the few that brought real quality.
The engineering, the structure, the LED board itself and the standard of our digital billboard is what you find anywhere in the world. It is comparative to good digital boards of international standard. This is why it is different in clarity. We are not going to be having downtime because there are backups. We have an electrical engineer that has taken up the maintenance of the board. So, it is going to run well through the year. It will give good mileage to any brand that comes on it.
How would you appraise outdoor advertising in Oyo State?
There used to be a time that Ibadan was the third tier market. We rate markets by research. Now, Ibadan has become a second tier market. If you take Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja, then you will take Ibadan, Kano and Enugu. Benevolence Treasures Limited has very strong base here. We have very many billboards at vantage positions and locations in the city of Ibadan. In the industry, they know us as South West warlord.
At the time we did the inauguration, we already had two clients on the board. It doesn’t just happen that way. Several times when an LED comes up like that, people would do public relations. But we do good marketing and we have our media partners that know their onions. They know what board would be beneficial to their brands.
Our digital board is in the nucleus of Ibadan. There is nowhere you are going to in Ibadan, except you are not in this city that you will not pass through Mokola. It is a beehive of activities. It is both vehicular and human heavy, day and night.
We have software to do live stream on that board. We can show European premier league on that board. We can stream, tweet and we can do many things live. It is a new technology. The board is light-emitting diode (LED). It is all LED, but there are different technologies. just like when you say it is all radio or television. But you can you can get 4-D, 3-D and so on. It is just about software.
The board will run for 17 hours everyday. It will be from 6a.m to 11p.m. Now, we are fully on generator. We hope to buy a transformer to put there, and that is another cost on its own.
What would you say are the challenges of outdoor advertising in Nigeria?
There are many daunting and numerous challenges. The infrastructural facilities are not there. The regulators want us to parley and be at par with practitioners around the developed world. But we are operating under very harsh economy. The regulators, many times, are not humane. They don’t know that they exist at our pleasure.
The government, of course, wants money and they are taxing everyone. But what are they doing for us with the money they are taking? It is a very difficult business terrain. If you not resilient and dogged, you cannot just do so much around here. It is not the same thing with other climes. It is so tough. The banks also, many of them do not even believe in it, except my bank. We just pray that God will come into this nation and help us. There are so many hindrances to business success here.
What is your advice to the signage and advertisement agencies?
The Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, LASAA, the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria, OAAN, is handling them as a professional association. These governmental regulatory agencies stemmed from Lagos with the advent of LASAA.
When the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) came, it was very draconian. It was as if we versus them. They took many out of the business because our own business is by the roadside.
You cannot fathom how much that structure costs. It costs so much. Many would just look at how much you charge and government would say if you are taking this much, why don’t you pay certain amount, without looking at the return on the investments. They don’t even look at what you put in the marketing, maintenance and they just want to take money.
For the Oyo State Signage and Advertisement Agency (OYSAA), unfortunately, the leadership has not been stable. They have been trying to make the environment conducive. Many of these regulators are doing okay as much as possible; they have human face. We engage with them all the time. But some others are just taking money, they are not giving enabling environment and they are not engaging with us.
Outdoor advertising is employing several hundreds of thousands. It is a source of revenue that should not go out of government. Government should find a way to protect the business, at least, to nurture home grown businesses. But it is not the same in Nigeria. We just very much hope that things will get better.