Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Advertising in Accra

DDP Outdoor Ltd.

Ben Clos

Entrance to DDP compound.
There are many ways that we may think we are different from African culture, but their work ethic is not one of them. There are still deadlines, clients to appease, invoices to be filed and calls to be made. While studying abroad in Accra, Ghana, I was placed as an "attachment", also known as intern in the United States, for DDP Outdoor Ltd. DDP is a advertising business with  the "emphasis on billboard production and installation, production of point-of-sale materials, exhibition building/display, wide format digital printing etc." This is a company that is over 35 years old with 35 consistent clients which include Vodafone Ghana Ltd., Coco-Cola, Ethiopian Airlines, Shell, Pepsi, several banks and government clients, Unilever Ghana Ltd. and several more. There are approximately 100 workers on and off the business' small campus with several different departments of client services, finance, graphic design, operations and fabrication.

What They Produce

Bus stop advertisement.
While DDP is a business of billboards, they also do different types of advertising using images. Their portfolio includes traditional unipolar spectaculars but varies to backlit advertisements, store signage, airport and transit advertising, gantry billboards, and digital advertising. It seems that in Ghana there are many different types of billboards all over the place. While there is technology here, it does not have as overwhelming presence as it does in the United States. So, Twitter, Facebook and other social media advertising is not the best way to communicate to the audience here in Ghana. People do a lot of driving (sitting in traffic) and walking. The best thing would be to have a great print advertisement that is easily seen as one passes along on the street.

Being the Attachment

For the most part, everything was the same as the first day of interning in the U.S. You go around and are introduced to everyone in the office, see the different departments, placed with a designated person to shadow, etc. While I am only here for four days at the most, it would be hard to be given a project. For the most part, this was an observational internship to ask lots of questions and try and understand what a business is like in another country. On the first day I ran errands with Tomastina, an employee of client services. She told me that the holiday season which we are in, requires a lot of work. Clients are possibly changing advertisements to be holiday oriented or producing more advertisements with the shopping season. 

Client Services

Guiness beer three sided unipole billboard.
Something that I find different about working at DDP in the Client Services Department is that they need to travel around to different locations to check on their products. Clients pay a considerable amount of money for billboards and the four employees of the client relations department check on locations to ensure a functioning product. Another reason for travel is when a client reaches out with a new proposal for a billboard at a location, someone from the team has to go see if the location is an acceptable candidate for a billboard. Factors that come into play would be functionality: Would this location be an acceptable location? Will it be seen by many people? Is the right audience of people here? Another question is, would a billboard be able to be built here? Billboards can take up a lot of space. When a billboard is built, it takes a lot of concrete to be put in the ground to make a stable base for the billboard. From there the concrete has to sit for a considerable amount of time to ensure a dry and secure base. From there the rest of the billboard is produced with metal structure, lighting and the image. Aside from the billboard production, client services has to manage project schedules, communicate with clients and their requests and manage invoices and billing.


DDP compound.
The office is not as aesthetically flashy as an office you may see in the United States. This could be because the office has a lot of manufacturing happening on site, or because that is not the way offices are in Africa. There are not fancy conference rooms, a full coffee bar with breakfast provided or beer on draft in the lunch room. But, the culture is still a good working environment. There is laughter, there is joking with coworkers, there is even an end-of-the-year party that I was told about. I was told that the Ghanaians work hard and they play hard and I am sure that this office is just the same.

At the End of the Day

At the end of the day, Ghanaians still have work to be finished to keep their country working. There may be some businesses in Ghana that do not work as fast as ones in the United States. But, DDP Outdoor Ltd. has their phones ringing throughout the day with client concerns, needs and wants to get their message out there. Just another reason why Africa and America are more similar than you may think. 

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