Embattled Outdoor players disagree on JCDecaux

By Josph Ekeng

The recent move by Moving Media, a Nigerian outdoor company to sue French outdoor advertising giant JCDecaux for a breach of operational procedures, is the latest twist in the stormy relationship between the Nigerian outdoor players and the French company.

The company was dragged before the Lagos State High court for siting its billboard within 200 meters of Moving Media’s board, in clear violation of Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency (LASAA) regulation and rules which demand at least 400 meters gap. The next hearing for the case comes up on December 19, 2017.

When MARKETING EDGE got in touch with CEO of Moving Media, Aderemi Adetayo, he confirmed the report but would not speak any further so as not to run foul of the law of contempt of the court.

JCDecaux has refused to comment, either. “Thank you for your request, but we don’t have any comment”, was the response to MARKETING EDGE’s mail to the company. The respondent also pleaded not to be mentioned in this article. “Please, don’t mention me in your article, I’m sending you this answer on behalf of JCDecaux,” the respondent pleaded.

But a number of operators who bared their minds on the matter expressed divergent views, with many urging the agency on; adding that this would send a strong message to the government, which they accused of exposing the local operators to danger by encouraging the entry of JCDecaux into Nigeria without making them go through due process.

They also insist that the Lagos State government was jeopardizing the future of the outdoor industry in Nigeria by extending privileges to the multinational French Outdoor giant, which it has denied to the Nigerian operators.

Speaking with MARKETING EDGE, Moses Orife, Managing Director/CEO of Outreach Communications Ltd, frowned at the decision, pointing out that similar gesture was not given to Nigerian agencies that operate in foreign markets. “I practice in Cameroun and I know what I go through. Foreigners will just come here and do anything they want,” he said.

For many of the practitioners, JCDecaux adds to the compounding woes and lamentation of the outdoor industry in Nigeria.

Since the advent of the Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, LASAA, which ushered in a new regime of outdoor advertising regulation in the state with stricter rules and higher licensing fees, most of the agencies have struggled for stability. Margins have narrowed and value for most agencies have practically non-existent.

Perhaps, one of those that have been worst hit is Twenty First Limited, owned by Femi Ogala. For several years now Twenty First Century Limited has been teetering on the brink, leading to massive downsizing.

Understandably, Ogala, who is also the General Secretary of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria, OAAN, has been one of the most outspoken critics of LASAA.

In a recent interview with an online medium, he accused the regulator of acting in breach of Federal Government laws by partnering with JCDecaux.

He was quoted to have said, “By our findings, this outfit, which is not a member of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON, has been allocated some of the juicy spots by Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, LASAA, which is a breach of process”.

But his sentiments are not shared by some members of OAAN who insist that the outdoor market is, to a large extent, a free market and therefore allows for easy entry and exit.

Kola Badru, General Manager at Media Views Limited told MARKETING EDGE that the changes taking place in the Lagos outdoor market was not designed to kill the industry but a necessary evolution that the sector must go through because of changing economic dynamics. He said that outdoor advertising in Nigeria was now transiting from being labour intensive to capital intensive because of huge investments in technology.

In his words, “Before LASAA there was so many outdoor companies in Lagos; but today, how many do we have? That gives credence to the fact that the outdoor industry is a free market. The coming of JCDecaux is like what has been prophesied. It is not peculiar to outdoor alone; it happened in the banking sector”.

He stressed further that the industry operates within the larger global market, thus it is bound to be affected by trends in the global market, adding that instead of complaining, practitioners must embrace the change because, according to him, JCDecaux was likely to revolutionize the outdoor market in Nigeria.

According to Badru, “Outdoor industry has always been on the trajectory of growth and is innovation driven. Whether we like it or not we operate within the global economy. So, with that kind of movement it is foreseen that there is bound to be some element of mergers and acquisitions within the outdoor industry in Nigeria because once innovation starts coming it becomes more capital intensive”.

Akimola Adelegan, owner of Advertange Nigeria Limited agrees. He noted that government, which is the owner of the location, has a right to commercialize its properties because it needs money to function.

Adelegan also added that the industry had passed through this phase before as this is not the first time a foreign company would establish in Nigeria.

Akimola is of the opinion that instead of throwing tantrums at the government, operators must brace up to the change in the industry and embrace the innovation that comes with it for them to remain relevant. He added that no matter how big JCDecaux is, it cannot cover all locations and therefore there will still be opportunities for others.

But despite the Hughes and cries about JCDecaux, nobody can take away from the company’s innovative instinct- the very foundation on which it was founded in 1964 by Frenchman Jean-Claude Decaux. JCDecaux it was that invented the concept of the Street Furniture market, with a simple but innovative idea; to provide well-maintained Street Furniture free of charge to cities and towns, in exchange for the right to place advertising on these structures.

From the beginning, Street Furniture became a very attractive medium for advertisers, because it gave the agency access to advertising space in city centers where advertising was generally very restricted. Since then, the company has enjoyed an astronomic growth. JCDecaux is now the world leader in out-of-home media with advertising panels across more 75 countries that reach over 410 million people worldwide every day. It is Europe’s largest billboard owner and the world’s largest owner of street furniture.

That number is bound to grow even bigger with its entry into Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy with close to 200million population.

JCDecaux has risen to become number one worldwide in Street Furniture in terms of revenue which has hit €3,392.8 million as at December 2016. The company operates a wide range of analogue and digital advertising displays on highways and road arterials in metropolitan and rural areas, as well as in airports, shopping malls, the Gautrain Stations, taxi ranks and railway stations across sub-Saharan Africa, ensuring optimal visibility for advertisers and their brands.

In 2015, in a bid to gain a strong foothold in Africa, JCDecaux took over Continental Outdoor Media, the pioneer and largest outdoor company in Africa. This gave JCDecaux an immediate presence in 14 African country which includes Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

And here in Nigeria nobody can take for granted what the company brings to the table in terms of innovation, global support, technology and sharing of ideas and strategies from it businesses around the world. Analysts are optimistic that these cocktail of values will provide the needed catalyst to drive growth and assist the transformation of the outdoor advertising landscape within country and take it forward.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    No comments found.