Twenty first century innovation has changed outdoor advertising

Gems Communications has become one of the Leading Out of Home Advertising Agencies in Nigeria through Innovation and Commitment to Quality

Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka, another Nigerian master of communication

© 2015 David Veg / J. Zamora
"Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does." --Steuart Britt

Gems Communications Limited is an outdoor advertising company in Nigeria with offices in Ghana and the United States. The company is dedicated “to deliver world standard integrated marketing and communication services to discerning clientele in Nigeria and beyond.” After an evaluation of its work, its management systems, and its dedication to Continuous Quality Improvement, Gems Communications has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015.

Nigeria’s Nobel Prize Winner Combines Literature with Political Activism

Effective communication has been the hallmark of Wole Soyinka, a playwright and poet, and the only Nigerian to ever win a Nobel Prize. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African to be honored in that category. Soyinka studied in Nigeria and the UK, and became famous for, among other things, producing works of literature critical of governments.

Political activism has always been important in Soyinka’s literature and, in fact, he dedicated his Nobel Prize to Nelson Mandela, who was still in a South African prison at the time. Soyinka formed an anti-corruption and justice-seeking student organisation while still in college, and a significant number of the hundreds of published works attributed to him deal with the evils of repressive governments. As recently as 2015, he spent election day monitoring voting irregularities.

Nigeria’s most important writer has never been afraid of speaking truth to power. In Soyinka’s mind, many of the strongmen who came to power after the end of colonial rule were no better than their European predecessors, and he has been an untiring critic of "the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it,” whether in Nigeria or nearby countries such as Zimbabwe or Uganda. For instance, Soyinka’s play performed on the day in 1960 that Nigeria celebrated its sovereignty satirized the new government and argued that it was no better than the colonial ones which preceded it. He was later arrested for the first time in 1964 after resigning his professorship in protest of government censorship. Then, after the 1966 military coup he was arrested again and jailed for 22 months.

Given that he was not supposed to have access to books, pen or paper, it is remarkable that Soyinka managed to write some of his more significant works while in prison. Because of his notoriety and refusal to be quieted, he was forced to make a harrowing escape from the country on a motorcycle, and ended up living in the United States, Great Britain and France where he held university teaching positions and maintained his political criticism. He finally returned to Nigeria in 1999, avoiding a death sentence in absentia handed down during the prior dictatorship.

Soyinka once famously said that “A tiger doesn't proclaim his tigritude, he pounces.”

The list of awards that Soyinka has received is long. In addition to the Nobel Prize, he has been given four honorary doctorates, six international book awards, and three international fellowships. He has even been made a Yoruba tribal aristocrat.

Wole Soyinka has won respect and accolades because he is driven by an unswerving commitment to do his best and be true to his beliefs; to follow his calling unconditionally no matter the obstacles and challenges. Nigeria is justifiably proud to have produced a man of such integrity and commitment. It is a characteristic of the Nigerian people.

Gems Communications, Bringing Advertising into the Twenty-first Century

Outdoor advertising is the oldest form of commercial and political communication, from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman papyrus sales messages, to campaign posters found in the ruins of Pompeii and town criers and musicians drawing attention to products to be sold to people who couldn’t read as long as 2,000 years ago. Techniques have evolved, especially in recent years, and with the advent of non-standardized methods such as roadside signs, highway advertising and innovative media like transit advertising, mall advertising, mobile and digital messaging, the industry has come to use the phrase “Out-of-Home Advertising” to encompass all of these modalities

The out-of-home advertising business is one where each project is unique. It requires a fresh approach and imagination to create a new experience with each assignment. In order to accomplish this, Gems Communication has established a project management system with the flexibility to create custom made solutions for each client, while delivering the product on time and within budget. Accomplishing this goal consistently requires the dedication of significant resources to personnel development. The BID Committee was particularly impressed with the Human Resources function at Gems Communications, where they offer both part time and full time positions, in house training, and a commitment to promoting from within.

The most clever advertising campaign is pointless if the message isn’t seen, and Gems Communications uses cognition based strategies for ensuring that products stand out by siting them strategically. This means that boards aren’t clustered with other boards, are equipped with appropriate lighting, and are printed using cutting edge photo finishing techniques.

Innovation in Design and Execution

One example of innovation at Gems Communication is the use of Trivision Billboards, where three different messages can be displayed on the same board. These billboards are effective because the human eye is highly attracted to movement. Passersby linger in front of these creations in order to see all of the messages on the tri-action sign. However, these boards are complex and require state of the art technology at the design and production level. The company uses Computer Aided Design to design the parts for the internal mechanism and the frame as well, and graphic designers have the resources to produce the final product directly from the mechanical drawing, eliminating human error and ensuring a faithful reproduction of the original design. Trivision Billboards often provide the greatest impact for resources spent of any outdoor medium.

© 2015 David Veg / J. Zamora
Another innovation available at Gems Communications is the mobile billboard, where vehicles like buses are wrapped in vinyl, or where flatbed trucks are loaded with boards and moved to high traffic areas. This way, the message can be moved to where a large number of people can be found at any time of the day. Plus, vehicles can be located in areas where large static billboards aren’t allowed.

Gems has taken the mobile billboard to another level by offering Digital Mobile Billboards, which can take the form of a small and simple device that displays LED texts on top of a taxi cab, or a very large LED flat screen mounted on the sides of a tractor trailer truck. Some Digital Mobile Billboards are equipped with live concert T.V. systems and other audio technology equipments, which allow live marketing events or concerts.

The Result of Innovation is Growth

The company has experienced 40% year on year growth, which its Managing Director and Chief Executive officer Atilola Williams Odudare attributes to being “consistently responsive to customer requirements….Our focus has always been and will continue to evolve around value for our customers." This focus also shows in the clients that Gems counts among its satisfied customers, such as Guinness, Heineken, UBA Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, Hewlett Packard, Samsung, Blackberry, Airtel, LG and many others. The company’s stated mission is “to have an unwavering partnership with our clientele in delivering their branding initiatives with a view to gaining continuous market share.” Keeping international clients doesn’t happen any other way.

One way the company has maintained its clients is by offering a broad array of product offerings, including Megaboards, Bridge Panels, Bus Branding, Backlit Boards, Rooftop Displays and Lamppost Sheets. And besides its impressive list of clients, Gems Communications has also taken home a series of prestigious awards, such as the African Order of Merit in the provision of World Class Outdoor Advertising, the West African Corporate Achievement Award, and the Nigeria Brand Award. This year’s Quality Crown Award will be the first for Gems Communications from outside of Africa.

Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement and innovation, Gems Communications has been selected to receive the BID Quality Crown Award for 2015 at the convention in London.


BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.

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