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1.0     Introduction

Advertising has grown popular as a tool of academic inquiry, a field of professional practice and an index of modern business and politics.  It has come to assume the center of modern marketing and it is one of the major forms of promotion on campaign.  Billboard advertising has assumed a wider and prominent position on political campaign in recent times in Nigeria.  Despite electronic media, billboard advertising got campaign and election on the increase.

This new discovery on campaign has not only given rise to advertising agencies, that specialized only in billboards advertising, but also a strong association of billboard advertising agencies in Nigeria which is recognized by advertisers as a subsidiary of the Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria (APCON).  But as has been articulated by Adeyemi (1969), the constitutional provisions on freedom of expression can be said to amount only to an ordered freedom of which cannot be used as a license to spread communication that debased public morality.  However, many of these ethical principles have in the course of time grown to become statutory regulation codified laws.  Decree 55 of 1988 among other provisions provides that APCON show regular and control the practice of advertising in all its aspects and ramifications.  It is in this immense and wide power conferred on it, that APCON developed a code of ethics to guide and regulate the practice of advertising in Nigeria.

The increase in billboard advertising underscores the effectiveness of billboard on project promotion.  Billboards ensure frequent and repeated exposure to the advertisement. Billboards are usually located at points with high vehicle and human traffic.  Consequently, users of such points are regularly exposed to the advertisement in the board.  Secondly, billboard, also offer a high degree of locational flexibility.   In other words, the boards can be placed where the advertisers actually intended them to be.  In addition, they tend it has lower cost per thousand than most of the other media.  They are usually more cost efficient, especially for the advertiser with a small budget.  Billboard offers the advantage of very good color reproduction and at the same time it is an effective reminder medium offer serving as a catalyst for buyers who buy in impulse.

The greatest problems encountered by advertisers and their agencies with regards to billboards is site monitoring.  Monitoring is usually difficult and so when posters get torn or washed out, it takes a while to discover and repots.  This is because the site are usually scattered around very far geographic locations.  The posters used on the board usually tedious to print and post especially when the number of sites to be covered are too many.  In other words, boards make intense creative demands on the agency.  Because they are usually seen in a fleeting second, they have to be powerfully executed so as to intrude on the passers-bys consciousness.  In this case they tend to function better as reminder media and therefore cannot serve well as the primary and sole medium for an advertising campaign.  Aside its cost efficient contributes environmental aesthetic and enduring features of landscape of towns, in the country.  Although the voice of street vendor in Nigeria grows fainter with each passing year, it is still possible to hear the mournful call and tinkling bells of the old clothes and junk man, the call of the itinerant fruit peddler with his push cart, or the street corner vendors of hot chestnuts.  And what will a football game be without the kids hawking peanuts and soft drinks?  Much the same calls in a different language echoed in the streets.

Again if you will glance town the length of the streets in Gboko metropolis, you notice that the storekeeper around the town have taken some pains to make sure they not unobserved just as the market keepers did in the main market so you can see that broadcast advertising, point of purchase advertising, and outdoor advertising (Billboards) have all been around for a long time.  but is wasn’t until the middle ages, with the world shaking advent of the printing press and moveable type, that advertising began to take the firm most familiar to as today.

Winstan Fletcher (1979), identifies the following determinants of the strength of a billboard advertising, such as, the number of posters put in any given area, the size of the poster, the specific sitting of the poster and the length of the campaign.  Because of the problem of the more boards in a given area, the greater the problem of dotter many local authorities regulate the citing of board as to prevent their indiscriminate location poster come in standard sizes referred to as “sheets”.  The dimensions of a singly sheet are usually expressed in inches for easy handling and processing.  A single limit of sheet is usually 20 inches wide by 30 inches deep.  The most commonly available poster formats are 16 sheets, 32 sheets and 48 sheets.

In addition, there is the painted boards or bulletin boards, which are hand painted (instead of printed posters) and typical sizes and 14 feet by 48 feet.  Posters cited at busy locations or junctions with high human and vehicular traffic are often more effective than those at less endowed locations.  Furthermore, the longer the duration of a campaign the more impact it tends to have.

Outdoor advertising has become a major advertising medium by advertising firms in Gboko metropolis and an indispensable source of revenue for Benue state Government.  While advertisers buy spaces in Newspapers and Magazines, for outdoors he rents cites.  In Enugu metropolis, renting a cite centers on an advertiser the right of having his poster displayed on that size.  To do this, advertiser or his agency will retain an outdoor advertising company.  The advertising companies will have to be usually built and acquire a particular cite it wants or chooses from the ones the billboard company supplies.  It pays the outdoor agency for the production of the poster as well as rental fee for the cites.  Its media and client service monitor the posting, to ensure that all the sites are constantly and clearly posted throughout the duration of the campaign.

For all the media enumerated, management of the advertising operations is very delicate task, since in most case; advertising represents a significant source of corporate profitability.  For billboard companies particularly, the key task will entail keeping a tab on advertising agencies and solicitation that they can use the billboard firm for their campaign.  Other task include monitoring of cites to ensure that posters are in good order and properly posted, invoicing agencies for cites created and posted, ensuring prompt payment and prompt payment of rental charges to the state government via local authorities.

In executing this research, the researcher will try to identify why billboard advertising seems to be more popular than other means of advertising in terms of product promotion in Enugu Metropolis.  Also this study will try to find out the acceptability of billboard advertising in the society.  Among other things, this study also hopes to establish the contribution of billboards to product promotion and consumption.

1.1     Background of the Study

That the mass media plays a vital role in the development process of a country is not again saying. The mass media generally regarded as a channel of communication that are capable of reaching heterogeneous audience simultaneously with uniform message. They regularly cover all sorts of issues such as health, music, fine art, crime, sport, entertainment, political events among others (Meyer, 2002, Soela 2004). The mass media transmits ideas and new information to target audience in the society. Tosanisunmi (2004) has observed that the mass media educate, inform and entertain beyond these functions as they also persuade and catalyze for social mobilization. In other words, the mass media can be regarded as powerful service of information because they have the capability to penetrate every segment of society. They have the ability to disseminate messages about issue, ideas and product.

Furthermore, the mass media has that capability to create awareness and knowledge about issues of national interest. The traditional mass media usually consist of radio, television, newspaper and magazine while the news media involves the internet technologies. Contextually, these media have the responsibility to mobilize for national  development.  In other words, social mobilization for development largely depends on the media for success. Crusade for change and dissemination of useful information against corruption, bad governance and terrorism depend on the mass media. Ogwezzy (2010) states that it is a common knowledge that the media is the engine of mass communication and the avenue through which the public could be reached.

In the other hand, election is an important element of democracy; elections enable the individual to express a sense of belonging to a political system. Elections provide forum for the discussion of public opinion on important issue. Elections allow an exchange of influence between leaders and the electorate (Nwaozuzu 1999:18-22). This statement captures the relevant functions of the broadcast media in elections which serves as a mobilizing of all the different people in society and at the same time to co-ordinate the activities as they are made to express their views about candidates who are contesting for political position. The broadcast media through their programmes create avenue through which the people express their views about candidates. There may be phone calls in programmes like radio link, state of the Nation, or debate programmer responsible or otherwise and has made people pass on topical political issues. Also the broadcast media (Radio and Television) provide platforms through which individuals or member of society contribute on issues of public interest. They may be based on stewardship of political offices holders wishing to recontest for elections or it may have to do with electoral law that are perceived to be capable of fermenting violence. Ebo (1997:132) maintain that: the broadcast media play decisive roles in the lives of the citizens no matter where they are located and whatever their stage of development. The broadcast media are the most potent and sensitive sector of the communication industry considering the reach and influence they have on their viewers and listeners.

This statement succinctly explains which relevance the broadcast media is to all  the components of the society, a power it acquired from its inception and not only during political campaigns. It is this power that grants it the ability to mobilize people and make them participate in mass in political processes. To further explain the power of the broadcast media in mobilizing the citizens towards conforming to expected behavior and participation in electoral processes. The media force attends to certain issues, they build  up images of political figures, they are constantly presenting objects, suggesting what individuals should think about, know about, having feelings about. Clang an Lang 1959:103- 112).

This means the dominant thought that the people carry about, is influenced by the media‟s constant projection of what they should be thinking especially concerning the electoral process. This comment conforms to the agenda setting thereby which provides explanation to what or how the media can sway the behavior of the people in the society. Given this power therefore, it will not be out of place to say that, the failure of success of any electoral process lies largely in the hands of the mass media, to which the broadcast media is a strong component. Innis (2003:298) in support of this state that; while an unbiased and responsible system can contribute to the success of the electoral process, a bias and irresponsible media contributes to the failure of elections.

On the same power of the media, Orhewere‟s (2003:140) argues; the Nigerian media in the past did not show enough commitment to professional ethic there by contributing to electoral crisis in Western Nigerian in 1965 and subsequent elections. The relevance of Orhewere‟s comment is that not only does the Nigerian Broadcast media posses‟ enormous powers, but its role as an instrument of mobilization dates back to as far as 1965. In other words, the media has been a very active instrument in democratic processes in Nigeria over a stretch of time, until the military dictatorship took the shine from it. However, with the re-entry of civilian rule in 1999, the media viz the broadcast media have resumed its active role of mobilizing the populace for elections.  The media or broadcast media played very important role in elections written 1999 and  2003,  Therefore, to print out that, the roles the media often plays is either responsible or otherwise and has made people pass judgment or often ascribed to failed outcome of elections ascribed to failed outcome of elections to it. That is the success or failure of elections are often judged by the role of the media for instance, Chinua Achebe (1993:78) allege that; the two previous at conducting election under civilian rule generated crisis, which culminated to the collapse of the republics due to several electoral frauds some of which allegedly were aided and abetted by the media. Chinua Achebe‟s comment  however begs for serious questions at to, how does a watch dog become a conspirator. In other words, how does a media aid and abet fraud, perhaps they will form another basis  for a study. However, it is important to note that, indeed the broadcast media has very strong roles to play in elections. To this Burns (1977:45) state that; The media in a civilized society occupy a very important and powerful position with capacity that can easily influence the opinion of the masses. While Rivers (1971) state that, it is expected to be the condolence of the people where divergent views are expressed in order to serve as a check against autocratic and totalitarian rule

Therefore, it is against the above background that this project seeks to examine the influence of billboard advertising on electioneering campaigns for students using Fidei student’s campaigns.

1.2     Statement of Research Problem

The role of media in every society is often to educate, inform and enlighten. It is assumed that, where those roles are adequately carried out, elections are bound to be free and fair. However, in Nigeria, several elections have been marred the question is how the mass media has mobilized the Nigerian populace. How come electoral processes have not been successful? Is the broadcast media system not commensurate to other media systems elsewhere? These and many others are questions that this study hopes to identify.

1.3     Objectives of the Study

1.                 To ascertain the level of equal media coverage given to political parties to candidates.

2.                 To ascertain the significant relationship between mass media & electioneering campaign.

3.                 To ascertain the significant level of mobilization of mass media towards elections.

4.                 To determine the significant level of billboard advertisement to students electioneering campaign.

1.4     Research questions

The following question will be used to guide this research work.

1.     To what extent do the media educate the electorates on electoral process?

2.     The Media (billboard) enlighten the populace on the political candidates?

3.     Is there significant relations between billboard coverage and election results?

4.     Which of this characteristics of electorates affect the billboard coverage of Election?

5.     To what extent does electioneering campaign on billboard affects the results of elections?

6.     Does the media give equal coverage to political parties during elections?

7.     The media (billboard/posters) set Agenda for public Discussion towards Election?

1.5     Significance of the Study

On the completion of this project the end result will benefit academics, students of communication studies and other researchers that may want to carry out further research on this study.

1.6     Scope of the Study

The scope of this research work will only cover the people within Fidei Polytechnic Gboko. This focus will be on the political campaign of the students within the school.

1.7     Limitations of the Study

The research work may be faced with time & fund constraints being an academic based research. The time allocated for this study is not enough as in combining the work on this study with daily academics routine. Also, the study will be limited to some areas due to the problems of funds, shortage of texts, journals and information relevant to the study.

1.8     Operational Definition of Terms

1.       Impact: This refers to a significant or strong influence on massmedia towards election.

2.       Television broadcasting: This can be defined as the dissemination of information, idea, opinion, before, among others through the use of television medium.

3.       Electioneering Campaign: This refers to the act or process of soliciting for support or votes for a given political party or candidate during election.

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