Body to bring order to outdoor

Outdoor advertising firms in the UAE have taken the first steps towards forming a trade association, which aims to bring much needed clarity and order to the industry.

Four outdoor companies - Concept Group, Emirates Neon, Group Plus and Kassab Media and Marketing - are the founding members of the association, which has yet to be given a name.

Other firms who operate in outdoor will be invited to join later.A first meeting was slated to take place yesterday, with the formation of a committee the first priority.

Those working in the industry have welcomed the decision, but details on how the group will operate and the issues it will address have yet to be established.

Georges Chehwane, president of Group Plus, said the main aim of the association should be to promote the industry and help develop evaluation and measurement methods within the industry.

"One of the main issues of having a trade body such as this is the ability to co-ordinate activities with the authorities and establishing general rules for outdoor.

"It can also help promote the outdoor business, and work on evaluation and measurement could be something fruitful for everyone."

But Chehwane said that an association would not work in harmonising the sometime fractious relationships between outdoor companies.

"Internally, with issues between outdoor suppliers you cannot do a lot. You cannot ask, for example, a price policy or sales policy.

"If we can reach an agreement with the municipalities or any authority concerned with outdoor regulation, this is what we will do.

"I think if we put specific objectives that we can realise, it can work.

"If we are asking for self regulation for outdoor companies, it will not work."

Rehan Merchant, executive director of Emirates Neon, which includes Emirates Outdoor, said the association would ultimately improve the industry.

"The industry needs an association. Every industry has one to protect it and grow the industry. You need one. It is getting a bad reputation and it is not just in Dubai.

"We will form a committee and we will give the reasons behind the committee and what it is set up to do. Then we will start inviting people, so it is an effective association."

While initially only focused on the UAE market, Merchant said it could eventually be rolled out in other countries across the region.

"If it works in the UAE there is no reason why it shouldn't work anywhere else. We are present in other countries also. If it works we will use the same model for Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait etc."

Nina Chohan, marketing manager at Dubai Outdoor Media, also welcomed the formation of the association.

"It is a positive thing for the industry. The people involved in outdoor do need to come together and discuss the issues that confront the industry. I hope it will help with things such as research, and evaluation and make things a little bit fairer than biased."

Outdoor companies are the latest in the marketing communications business to form a trade association to represent their interests. 

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