Mono 2000, an advertising company that has been in the business since 2000, is one of the major advertising companies in the capital. The company works on billboards and wall brandings, for which they are well-known.
Since the instalment of new billboard advertisements in the city was banned in 2012, the major focus of the company has been wall branding, although the work on billboards is easier both to the companies and the customers in terms of both cost and size, said the manager of Mono 2000, Eskinder Assefa.
“Billboards are installed on public land and the cost is only that of production and the installation except for the taxation that comes once a year,” he says. “But wall brandings have an additional cost, that is, the rental cost of the buildings, whose walls are to be branded.”
Another factor that determines the preference between the two forms of outdoor advertisements is the size of the material produced.
“The walls determine the size of the advertisements which usually makes it bigger but the size of billboards is smaller which makes the cost of production and instalment smaller,” he says.
The same holds true for other advertisers that are in the same field of production. One of these advertisers is Ermias Advertising that works both on billboards and wall brandings. Although the cost of the wall brandings is higher both for production and rental, there is a shift in the system with the use of wall brandings getting traction these days according to Ermias Mengistu, manager of the company.
“The number of wall brandings is increasing over time as there were no alternative forms of outdoor advertisement after the instalment of billboards was prohibited by the city administration,” he says.
Because of the growing demand of walls for advertisement, the rent of wall space is also higher, according to Ermias. The maximum price that his company paid for the instalment of a wall brand is 1,500 Br for a square metre, he claims. This cost of the advertisements on the walls is borne by the customers who pay large sums of money for this service.
“Currently, I charge 300,000 Br for the instalment of a wall structure to advertise Gebeta wine for a year,” Ermias said.
Although these wall brandings are coming to the market as alternative tools for advertisement, the ban on building of new billboard structures is affecting the business of these companies as the players in the industry indicate.
Billboard advertising was banned in 2012 with such advertisements allowed only on private property. The issue has been shrouded in confusion, with the city administration, which ordered districts to stop giving licences, claiming that it has been working on a directive since 2012.
While Ethiopia’s advertising proclamation was approved by the House of Peoples’ Representatives in June 2012, the city had its own regulation a year earlier. That regulation indicated that the Land Administration & Construction Licensing Authority, now the Construction Permit & Control Office, would produce the directive, which has not happened until now.
In August 2013, the Construction Permit & Control Office, which is under the Land Development & Management Bureau, started working on a draft, which it was able to present to the cabinet eight months later, in April 2014. But because of the controversy on the implementing bodies, the directive has not been put into effect. The different bodies of the city administration requested that the directive be given not only to the Construction Permit Office but also to the other entities responsible for implementing it.
This issue led the cabinet to decide that these bodies should meet and negotiate a resolution of the issue and implement the directive with the mediation of city’s Justice Bureau. But the entities failed to come together despite the different arrangements made by the Justice Bureau, which then extended the timeframe for putting the directive into effect, said Mitiku Mada, the Justice Bureau’s deputy head.
“I am now going to write a letter as the involved offices are not able to gather to discuss the case,” Mitiku told Fortune.
Since the ban, we have lost 30pc to 40pc of the income we could have gained, said Mono’s Eskinder, which is three to four million Birr a year. The annual turnover of the company is 10 million Br to 15 million Birr on average.
In the middle of this, the number of outdoor advertisements on buildings in the form of wall branding is increasing, as the players in the sector say.
Mono, which has 100 structures in the city including walls and billboards, said that the number of wall brandings was growing because of the lack of alternatives and despite increasing rental prices of wall space.
“The number of wall brandings was not more than 10pc of the whole structures,” says Eskinder.
Now it accounts for 42pc. However, the increasing rate required for wall branding is affecting some advertisers.
Ozzie Business & Hospitality Group organises two annual events in Addis Abeba, for which it requires wall branding. It organises a hotel show and what it calls the East Africa Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions, but it is ditching wall branding for these events now because it has been asked to pay 90,000 Br, about three times more than the 32,000 Br it had to pay a year ago for a space around Atlas Hotel, along Zambia Street., says the managing director of the company, Kumneger Teketel.
“It will not be feasible to have them [wall branding] for these short programmes,” said Kumneger.
Vivid Advertising, which has been in the business for the past nine years works on car branding, wall branding, billboards and light boxes. Fikir Bezabeh, the manager, says that the number of wall brandings is increasing along with the increasing price demanded for them.
“The rental cost for the buildings is up to 300 Br a square meter for a year which in turn elevates the price of the wall brandings,” Fikir said.
“Wall brandings are very big that are made to fit the walls on which they are installed thus ownership requires a large budget,” says Mono’s Eskinder.
A billboard of six metres by four metres costs 33,000 Br to install while the same size of wall branding costs up to 84,000 Br with the whole cost of production and installation. Eskinder says he would rather not do wall branding, if billboards were allowed one more time.
But, despite the price, Kumneger says that wall brandings are better in terms of visibility and the structural soundness of the structure of the building, which does not create fear of falling.
“It is better for long term advertising in terms of the strength and the visibility,” Kumneger said.
The installation of new billboards in the city was prohibited three years ago with only renewal permitted seen on many old billboards at Meskel Square.