The following first appeared in the OHMSA May 2012 Newsletter which was disseminated on 01 June. Our acknowledgements to the Association and Sonnet Swanepoel.

This is a very interesting industry – even a simple decision such as whether to join the industry body or not is very loaded, mostly, from what I can gather, as a result of both OHMSA’s history as well as the industry’s legacy!

Adages abound when considering the concept of an industry body: ‘strength in numbers’; ‘Unity is strength’, ‘Together we stand, divided we fall’ etc. The fact is these statements so glibly thrown around are all true.

In the case of OHMSA? Even more so.

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I have only been in the industry for 10 months, a very interesting 10 months. What astounds me though, is the extent to which an industry that is maligned, under attack from regulatory bodies, undervalued by the middlemen/brokers and largely ignored by the clients, can still continue so brazenly on the path that brought them to this point: infighting, backstabbing, petulance, ‘in your face’ attitudes!

Yet, I found people in the industry and on OHMSA Exco who unselfishly donate their time and skills to take the INDUSTRY to the next level. With no thanks. No, in fact, only with loads of criticism.

Let us recap: from what I understand the reasons for the lack of support of OHMSA are legion, but in a nutshell it boils down to expectations not having been met. Then there were the legal battles and some entities that apparently had used OHMSA for their own ends. Regardless of the past, the future is here, now and it is in our collective hands to determine the way forward.

This industry can probably write the handbook on entrepreneurship as most of these businesses were built by fearless people, people with guts and boldness. People with tenacity, and this call is to all of you to work together so we can take Out of Home into the next economic cycle with greater impact.

With all the animosity this medium has to contend with, can you imagine the resources locked up inside each one of us who have survived and been successful, which can be put to constructive use. No single person has all the answers – we need the involvement of the greater group to really have an impact on the market as a whole.

Consider the SA market – most do not have access to TV. Yet, and here the anomaly becomes more profound, that is where the majority of adspend lies. Add to that the fact that many of those who do have TV, actually also have the latest technology to Fast Forward when it comes to the advertisements or to tape the relevant programme and watch it later, again with Fast Forwarding. I must say though, in my experience (and I am by no means an avid TV watcher), the advertisements were the only reason I watched TV – they were far better than most programs.

Let’s take the thought further: The majority do not buy magazines, newspapers etc. Yet, the spend there still far outweighs the spend in Out of Home. Even if you do buy it, you may see the advertisement once if at all and then throw away the magazine.

Yet, Out of Home, the only media that you do not throw in the dustbin, or Fast Forward, hardly gets any participation in the total media spend. Come on, be honest, how often have you (forget about all the AMPS and other measurements) reacted to Out of Home advertisements as opposed to the other media used.

At the same time, we need to own up to the fact that OOH have, at times not behaved responsibly with regards to obtaining assets or the creatives allowed on those assets, which all just added fuel to the fire and provided the relevant parties with the sticks they needed to try and beat us down.

OHMSA’s intent is to work with all stakeholders to elevate our offerings to the position it should hold in the total adspend. And to do that, we need all the players to come together to address the challenges and develop solutions.

The opportunities and innovations abound – let us bring this to the market.

Join the new OHMSA. Where you have a voice, and will be heard.