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Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines (OAAP)
Upper Ground 37 Cityland Pasong Tamo Condominium
6264 Calle Estacion, Brgy. Pio del Pilar, Makati City
Outdoor advertising, as the oldest and reliable advertising medium, deserves a better place in the sun. It rewards and reminds, however, fail on the wayside, prompting billboard operators and owners to organize themselves into one, cohesive and solid voice-the Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines (OAAP) on August 13, 1964, Its first president was Ramon Manalang with Jose Castro, vice-president, Amelia Santamaria, Secretary Benjamin Garcia, treasurer and Antonio Chua, public relations officer.
Fifteen founding members: Acme Neon Lights, Advertising Associates, Hi-Art Reproductions, Inc. House of Racor, Luzon Advertising, Manila Neon Lights, Martin Outdoor, M.J. Gonzales and Associates, Inc., Modern Advertising , Outdoor Advertising of the Philippines, R. Lunod and Associates, Sierra Neon Incorporated, United Neon Lights and Universal Sales Promotions, Inc. Only four of the original members, unfortunately, are still in business: Advertising Associates, Inc., House of Racor, R. Lunod and Associates and United Neon Lights. At that time, the Association Aspired for greater growth in the industry since it realized that while there was clamor for it, there was also room for improvement. It was with this sense of regulating the industry and protecting it, that OAAP drew up a Code of Ethics.
The Code standardizes the structures and operating practices of outdoor advertising displays. What is stresses apparently is the urgent need to fall within governmental policies, objectives and code of ethical conduct. The Code takes an eight-point framework:
• Build structures only in areas where provincial or local government regulations permit the building of such structures;
• Locate structures with discretion and good taste with respect to frequency and concentration;
• Support zoning based on sound community planning;
• Display only outdoor advertising which adheres to the Philippine Cod of Advertising Standards;
• Place displays only on properties owned or leased by the outdoor plant operators;
• Follow rigid standards of design, construction and maintenance in the interest of safety and good viewing;
• Support actively and continually worthy public causes through the contribution of space; and
• Fulfill obligation to advertisers and their agencies or their representatives both in the letter and in spirit of the contract.
According to the Association's first woman president, Mrs. Teresa V. Daza, the Code is being updated to keep it more relevant and sensitive to the changing needs of the industry and other allied sectors.
The 1989 officers and directors of Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines (OAAP) include Board of Directors, Pol Martinez and Alex David, and officers; President : Teresa Daza; Vice-President : Jack Sy; Secretary : Jose Vale; Treasurer : Jose Domingo and Public Relations Officer : Jose Guzman, Jr.
It will be recalled that when martial law rule was promulgated, all traditional media (radio, television and print) were banned except for outdoor advertising. For what precise reasons, no one ever got around to find out. Anyhow, in 1974, OAAP was placed under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Council for Print Media (PCPM) under the late General Hans Menzi as per Presidential Decree No. 576. The Decree actually empowered PCPM to set rules and regulations for the discipline and regulation of all mass media under its supervision. Moreover, the decree made membership for all outdoor advertising companies mandatory. It was an unpopular move but this contributed to the discipline that all OAAP members manifested during its period. The Metro Manila Commission, with the Assistance of General Menzi, designated areas where billboards could be allowed in Metro Manila.
In May 1974, OAAP became one of the charter members of the Philippine Board of Advertising (PBA), which at present serves as the umbrella organization of all advertising-related groups. At least one member of the Association is represented at the regular monthly meeting of the AdBoard Executive Committee.
How was the Association fared since the seventies? In 1976, then Metro Manila Governor; Imelda Marcos, in line with her cleanliness and beautification drive, decided to demolish all billboards and existing neon signs along Roxas Boulevard and Luneta, home of Rizal Park. The OAAP consequently, held dialogues with the Metro Manila Commission's integrated beautification program. In addition, the Association talked to then Minister of Finance Cesar Virata concerning excessive municipal taxes on billboards contained in the local tax code.
In one of the sessions of the old Batasang Pambansa, three assembly members: Rogelio Peyuan, Jeremias Zapanta, and Vicente Millora proposed Parliamentary Bill No. 1052, prohibiting the putting up of billboards or advertising of any form along national highways. This proposal seemed to have totally forgotten the benefits of having billboards along national highways. Apart from the obvious economic opportunities to those engaged in installing billboards, this medium of advertising affords travelers and residents the security, which illuminated billboards offer. Other times, billboards graduate as vital landmarks. Happily, OAAP, with the support of PBA, worked for its non-passage.
OAAP has no police power, so to speak, but OAAP has proved at once effective and extensive. Trade guidelines have been established and outdoor operators follow strictly these guidelines to ensure the observance of the established ethical practices in the country. Some of the guidelines include:
• Avoid installing billboards/advertisements of competing products or firms side by side or on the same line of vision;
• All outdoor signs must be properly identified;
• temporary structure erected on proposed locations to identify the actual site of construction must be respected;
• Avoid the installation of a board to cover another board.
As to outdoor advertising copy, it shall not in any way contain a statement or convey messages or visual displays that are:
• Obscene or offensive to public decency;
• False, misleading or deceptive;
• Offensive to the moral standards of the community; and
• Violative of any national or local law.
Even outdoor advertising structures have been specified to conform to the accepted standards of construction, maintenance, and traffic safety in such fashion as to recognize and respect the public's interest in the natural scenic beauties of the country.
Daza, who operates one of the leading outdoor firms in the country, Da Best Outdoor Advertising Corporation, also points out that OAAP has actively and consistently supported public causes through the Association's contribution of outdoor ad displays. She recalls that in the early seventies, the Association assisted in the Community Chest anti-TB campaign, in the project of the Philippine Cancer Society and more recently, the Family Rosary Crusade, Pearl and Dean Poster ads to curb drug dependency, anti-car napping, and the free medical service in Malate, Manila.
The members, through the years, have realized and appreciated that in any cohesive organization, sincerity and determination to succeed are the ?passwords?. Usually the members hold their meetings in restaurants where friendship goes beyond mere socializing. Together, irritants in the industry are discussed and solved, and in the process, OAAP members learn to share problems and joys in running an outdoor advertising outfit.
Like a bundled broomstick, the OAAP members work and implement the standards of trade practices and conduct as applied to outdoor advertising. These standards have been evolved by the Trade Practices and Conduct Committee of the Philippine Board of Advertising (PBA). In a report on OAAP once, once it has been pointed out that the Association ?has been quite uncompromising in its stand for fairness and ethics to maintain a high level of quality and prestige.? However, there are billboard operators/ owners who cower from challenges and ideals and therefore shy away from being members. As the maxim goes, ?many are called but few are chosen.?
What are some of the problems in the industry? It seems that despite the fact that outdoor advertising is the oldest medium in advertising, Filipinos lag behind in understanding its functions and value. Outdoor advertising is an often misunderstood and underutilized medium. Billboards, by virtue of their size and placements (outdoors, or course), are extremely dramatic and are the largest ads available. They offer the public,, especially motorists and pedestrians, a kind of message they cannot simply ignore. Daza explains, ?Through selective posting of the billboard messages, an advertiser can zero in on its best customers in any market. At relatively low costs, billboards provide many impressions in a short period of time since it is the only major medium whose sole function is to advertise and is limited to its commercial application.?
Perhaps because billboards are not considered conventional media such as print, radio and television, people hardly appreciate it. Traditionally, outdoor advertising is seen as but a small slice of the advertising pie. But gradually, advertisers are realizing this practical, low-cost outdoor or out-of-home medium. Outdoor advertising reaches people in an increasingly segmented media market with unmatched frequency and at a low cost per thousand impressions. Further, those who see the boards, the ?up scale? consumers, are able to recall the message and remember the advertisers name twice as often as the closest media competition.
In addition, in its own special way, billboards reinforce and supplement newspapers (an in-home medium) and radio (an audible in-home or in-car medium). According to Roddey, an international outdoor advertising practitioner, ?A 10-second commercial has approximately two selling frames. An outdoor board, with its ?reminder selling' frame is equivalent to a 5 ? second commercial.? Well, the sooner the Filipino advertiser accepts this, the better.
Educating the public, moreover, on what makes a good outdoor design and how billboards should be maintained, creates some difficulty. Ignorance or lack of appreciation of this medium naturally leads advertisers into not using this medium altogether or not paying much attention to its care. Either way, the advertisers and the audience suffer.
The recent hard times in this country may have caused the rampant theft of billboard materials and for the billboard operator, this translates into unnecessary expense. In the presidential snap elections in February 1986 and in the national elections in May 1987 in the country, billboard operators were not allowed equal opportunity by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to solicit the business from the candidates, unlike radio, TV and Print. This ban, as included in the Omnibus Election Code, was passed in December, 1985 by Old Batasang Pambansa. Surely, this was pure discrimination against a legitimate and taxpaying industry. Besides, in the aftermath of an election, cleaning or disposing billboards is easier and less defacing. Fortunately, in a public hearing proposing the lifting of the ban last June 1987 and in the Executive Order issued by President Corazon "Cory"Aquino, billboard advertising was given the go signal.
Sadly and strangely enough, when energy conservation is enforced, lighted billboards and neon signs often receive the brunt of the government officials. They fail to appreciate that neon signs consume the least electricity because of the transformer that regulates flow of power. Besides, lighted billboards offer shelter, security or safety to the pedestrians or travelers. IT seems grossly unfair, therefore, for outdoor advertising to be subjected to such discriminations or injustices.
To reiterate the message in the first paragraph, the time is ripe for outdoor advertising to claim a "better place in the sun". This should spell better times both for the industry and for outdoor advertising operators. Soon, the Association officers can report about developments on their particular industry to the Advertising Board of the Philippines flashing wide grins.

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