Aertisers Root for Professionalism

Uganda’s aertising market has grown over the years, with players in the industry estimating its size at Shs 560bn. How did the firms, which, just ten years ago, were struggling entities, grow to such a level?

Alon Mwesigwa asked Caleb Owino, the MD for Fireworks Aertising Uganda Ltd, and the CEO for Uganda Aertising Association (UAA), about the sector.

How come your organisation attracted a few members yet the industry is bulging with tens of aertising agencies?

Currently, the association has 13 members, and I must say it’s an incredible number given the fact that whereas we have many aertising companies in Uganda, the number of mainstream aertising and communication agencies is not that big.

This is partly because the structure of the industry is such that unless you are careful, you may not be able to realise the revenues and profitability required to build a proper and well-structured business.

The overall mission of the Uganda Aertising Association is to enhance professionalism in the industry. Our starting point is that there has to be minimum standards for us to work. That aside, ours has been a four-year journey and the high fee to join has been out of reach for many agencies.

But we are turning a new chapter. We shall ask our members to vote so that we can lower the fees to join. Right now to join UAA, you need Shs 2m and then another annual fee of Shs 2m. The new executive has taken a step to eradicate the joining fee and lower the annual fee to Shs 1m.

How many members do you hope to attract once you resolve the issue of fees?

Our intention is to grow the membership from 13 to 30 by the end of our financial year, that’s March next. But we want everybody in. We want to make sure that the members of UAA are capable and willing to live up to the high standards the industry and the market expects.

What benefit does a member get once they join the association?

Our collective relationship with the media houses, where if you are a member, you get discounts or special rates when buying space. These special rates make it more affordable and cheaper for our members to buy media space and become more competitive. We have been able to negotiate and have our tax, especially VAT, streamlined with that of URA.

But if you look at how media houses were calculating, it mounted to extra charges. But we came together with our members and engaged URA and media owners and that has since been resolved. But we are looking up to more benefits, especially in capacity building. Aertising is an industry still not known to many in Uganda.

You find that universities here often don’t provide relevant training so, the cost of training to our members is very high. We will collaborate with universities and organise seminars [for that].

There has been a lot of friction between Kampala Capital City Authority and outdoor aertisers. How has this affected the industry?

Indirectly, yes our members were affected in the sense that any respected agency works on an annual plan. That plan entails apportioning the audiences we want to reach. If at the beginning of 2013, our members planned that we would reach people through TV, newspapers, and billboards.

If, midcourse, part of this space is brought to a halt, it affects our clients and our plans. But those most affected are the billboard owners because they had made direct investments there. The challenge we have is that whereas KCCA is trying to do a good job organizing the city, what’s lacking is proper guidelines.

Aertising agents today depend on the few clients in the industry. Why is this so?

I think there are different layers of players. I would say there are lead market players in the industry and if you look at how they are structured, designed and the people they have, everything they do is designed for a big client in the market. Small clients with small money just can’t afford.

We employ some of the brightest people in the industry people who are creative and whose ideas have grown businesses from scratch. If you want such people, then you really need to be willing to pay big money. It’s unfortunate that some businesses that need to invest in aertising can’t afford. But the small players also provide an opportunity for other agencies to tap that segment and grow with them.

Why haven’t UAA members been aggressive in exploiting markets beyond Uganda?

We have about two members who have ventured into Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. But I agree with you to a certain extent that we should do a lot more.

Uganda could position itself as a hub for Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, and South Sudan. This means that companies that want to enter those markets will first come to Uganda and then expand to those countries, which could be a big opportunity for our members.

Source : The Observer

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