ABSTRACT: The research examined the influence of outdoor advertising on electoral success using the 2014 and 2018 Osun governorship elections as a yardstick. It is of note that; the presence of various outdoor media platforms like billboards, posters, banners e.t.c has commanded a large number of followership for candidates. This research was anchored on the Uses and Gratification Theory and Psychodynamic Theory. The research also used a survey research method coupled with a questionnaire to elicit responses from respondents within Ifelodun local government. The data collected were analyzed using frequency and percentage. Findings show that substantial numbers of the respondents (77.8%) who are main participants in the election; agreed that billboard is a veritable platform for political campaigns while they also admitted that outdoor advertising to an extent determines the choice of candidates in the voting process. The study recommended that political billboards, posters, banners, and flyers should be strategically located and used in such a way that will not impede on the right of other contestants.
1.1 Background to the Study
As people drive and walk along the streets of Osun West to the East and Central, major political parties, All Progressive Congress, Peoples Democratic Party, and others can be seen and felt trying to convince and persuade voters who are calculated to be 1,407,107 registered voters and 1,012,678 PVC collectors using various media available including billboard and other outdoor media to get them in the 2015 general election. This was the experience of people in Osun state and many states of the federation about the overuse of outdoor media particularly billboards, posters and branded motors for the purpose of creating awareness and reminding electorates.
Meanwhile, billboards as a branch of outdoor media usually target passers-by, drivers, those in moving vehicles and pedestrian traffic. They are characterized by attractive models images and catchy slogans that attract the attention of politicians to the electorates in other to woo them and made them known.
Duncan (2013) posits that billboards take two forms. The most common definition of a billboard is an outdoor sign or poster usually seen on freeways, highways and streets.
Wise Geek, (2013). Describes billboard advertising as the use of large signs along roadways to advertise a wide range of products, services and causes.
Ariyibi –Oke (2007) cited in Leo, E., et. al. (2013) aptly captures the importance of outdoor advertising when he asserts “another great benefit of outdoor advertising is that it does not interrupt consumers in any way. There is no obnoxious sound, smell or any type of negative attention grabber. Outdoor media especially billboards got noticed because of their messages, bright bold colour and creative graphics”.
Also, Princewill, (2015) writes that advertising spending on political campaigns has been estimated to have cost political parties, friends and well-wishers of those seeking elective offices a princely N4.9 billion so far in the 2015 election, so the project estimated value for the election in 2018 in Osun state will be higher.
According to data gathered from different advert agencies and reports from advert regulatory bodies, the print media have so far raked in about N1.382 billion of the advert spend, with the All Progressives Congress, APC spending N332.503 million on its presidential candidate, while its Peoples Democratic Party, PDP counterpart spent N1.049 billion, which is 65.5 per cent higher than the amount spent by APC. Field reports further put other expenses on campaign rallies for PDP and APC at N1.057 billion and N595.082 million respectively. Both parties also spent N224.36 million on outdoor campaigns (Princewill, 2015).
The broadcast campaign coverage for the presidential candidates were put at N508.35 million and N391.05 million for PDP and APC. Electronic media adverts were N733.9million for PDP and N555.6 million for APC respectively, bringing the total amount to N2.5 billion. In summary, a total of N4.973 billion has been spent on campaign expenses, with PDP and APC spending N3.549 billion and N1.424 billion respectively.
Last year, the Advertising Agencies Association of Nigeria, AAAN had projected that the 2015 general elections will contribute billions of naira to the advert industry, an amount it said will form a major part of the advertising spend for the 2015 advertising year. But from recent development and the run of political campaigns so far, the projection has been surpassed in terms of ad spend. However, advert practitioners feel the estimate is much less than what has been spent, going by the inability of heads of sectoral bodies in the advert industry to track the amount spent by politicians, as a result of the haphazard nature of the adverts were given out.
It would be recalled that in 2014, former president of AAAN and Chief Operating Officer of 141 Worldwide, Bunmi Oke, predicted a bright future for any ad agency that puts its act together to tap into the windfall expected from the election year and the huge budget politicians would earmark for the 2015 political campaigns.
Worried by the bulk of political campaign materials, Financial Vanguard sampled the opinions of stakeholders who were particularly disappointed at the manner unapproved political materials litter advertising spaces in the country.
It is a fact that Nigeria has a history of not coming out with election spending figures, and data are equally unavailable on the actual spending of politicians on campaigns. But going by the volume of materials churned out through the different media of communication for political parties, it is no longer in doubt that billions of naira were spent in the 2015 election campaigns.
To this end, the research examines the influence of outdoor advertising on electoral success in the 2018 Osun state governorship election with the view to know the extent at which voters were mobilized and influenced. Although, few activities have begun, yet by the close to the election, lots of outdoor media are expected to spring up.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There are problems of apathy, indifference or alienated on the people towards participating in politics. Most citizens show no interest and do not contribute their quota to political issues due to violence, assassination, rigging, e.t.c that is rocking the political system in Nigeria. In fact many refer to Nigeria political arena is immature compared to the developed nations in the world. Other factors that daunt participation is unfulfilled and deceit in political promises and manifestoes. However, an outdoor advertising campaign stands out as a powerful option for people, being one of the few medium with the potential to capture the attention of everyone based on its design, appeal and its location.
Human wants, gratifications and choice are insatiable; this underscores the importance of billboard campaigns in showcasing party’s manifestoes, candidate agenda among others.
The problem that remains unsolved is to what extent is billboard campaigns entice and influence the voting habit of electorates. Another problem is the durability of billboard advertising campaigns as wind and other environmental factors such as during political crisis it is very easy for the opposition and rival members or parties to destroy or pull it down untimely thereby making it seems a waste of resources.
To this end, the research examines the influence of outdoor advertising on electoral success in the 2018 Osun state governorship election with the view to know the extent to which voters were mobilized and influenced. Although, few activities have begun, yet by the close to the election, lots of outdoor media are expected to spring up.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
Below are some of the objectives of this research:
- To examine the influence of outdoor campaign on Osun state electorates’ voting behaviour in 2018 governorship.
- To ascertain whether outdoor campaigns influence electorate preference for a particular political party and/or candidate(s).
1.4 Research Questions
- What are/is the influence of outdoor campaigns on electorates’ voting behaviour in 2018 General Elections?
- Do billboard campaign advertisements influence electorate preference for political party and candidate(s)?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The significance of this research aims at revealing to advertising practitioners, advertisers, corporate organizations, advertising agencies, political parties, aspirants, electoral bodies, NOA, Security operatives and other stakeholders at large on the influence of billboards on political campaigns and mobilization.
The research will therefore have significance on the way the various groups and party view this tool and help them understand whether to keep investing in this or devise another strategy to go about the advertisement.
It will assist students of mass communication, advertising, marketing and other related fields to understand the concept of advertising and particularly the potential of billboard and outdoor media as a prominent advertising channel to reach millions of people especially in the cities and rural areas.
However, the study will also be relevant to researchers, academicians and those who want to engage in similar research in the future. This will invariably allow such researchers to pinpoint the weak area(s) of the work and at the same time make a correction(s) for the purpose of future research. Media organisations, advertising agency and others will know what is expected of them by their clients and how to design, strategise and tactical in showcasing billboards.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study has been limited to the influence of outdoor advertising on electoral success in the 2018 Osun state governorship election. The Unilorin Community is selected due to the proximity, time, geographical locations, fund and other logistics.
1.7 Limitations to the Study
It is not an overstatement that a work of this nature cannot be carried out without some hard experiences, however, below are some of the constraints that were faced in the course of this research.
There are many limitations ranging from not knowing where to start, not knowing who to consult or approach for materials not knowing what next to write in various segments of this study and not actually knowing who to put me through in achieving my work and others are:
- Stress from other academic activities is one of the limitations of the research work.
- Financial constraint to travel to different places.
- Duration for the research work is relatively short
- Material that is available on this topic is relatively small as the concept is new or people are not written from that angle.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
There are some outstanding terms in this work with their appropriate definitions given.
Influence: It is the impact or contribution of the outdoor to political campaigns and awareness.
Outdoor: This is a form of political advert happening or located outside, rather than inside usually in a placed in strategic places.
Billboard: This is a form of public placement of political advert content usually in a strategically located wall or board designed for that purpose in Osun state.
Political campaign: It refers to the means through which voters and supporters are mobilized, sensitized and informed about a party or candidate.
Electorate: it simply refers to voters who participate in the 2018 general election.
Voting behaviour: This means the electorate mind set to choose a political representative.
Election: this is the act of choosing or selecting people into political positions usually through a ballot.