A WHOLE NEW WORLD

Lebanon 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Antonio Vincenti, CEO of Pikasso, on new advertising projects in Lebanon, innovative strategies, and digitization.

Antonio Vincenti
BIOGRAPHY
Antonio Vincenti is the founder and CEO of Pikasso, a leading outdoor advertising company in the Levant and North Africa, operating in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Algeria, Tunisia, Mali, and Ivory Coast. As a passionate believer in the out-of-home media, Vincenti has spent the last 31 years implementing international standards, promoting creativity, supporting noble causes through OOH advertising, and participating actively in the development of the outdoor advertising industry in the MENA region. A trusted professional in his field, he is involved in several business associations, including the Syndicate of Outdoor Advertising companies in Lebanon, as founding member and president, and FEPE, the International Association of OOH Advertising, as former president and current vice president.

How did Pikasso evolve and what are the achievements of the company so far?

We had a long maturation period that lasted 14 years—from the day of the foundation in 1986 until 2000, the year we started our expansion abroad—and this happened at a regular rhythm. Our industry, the out-of-home (OOH) advertising industry, is divided into three main sectors and we operate in all of them: billboards, urban furniture, and transport advertising. The billboard segment covers every size from small to large billboards. Urban furniture includes bus shelters, city lights, and malls. Transport advertising relates to airport, metros bus, and rail advertising. Digital OOH (DOOH) is applied in all three segments. Today, Pikasso is the number-one OOH company in the Levant and North Africa with a recent expansion in West Africa. We are present in 367 cities and towns across eight countries, with a total of 13,000 faces, of which 263 are digital screens. The group employs 450 people.

What are some of the major advertising concessions or projects Pikasso has won, and do you have any new bids in the pipeline?

We have been leading the Lebanese OOH market since day one, where we have 4,500 faces throughout 203 cities and towns, and we hold the concession of most malls. The major wins in Lebanon this year consist of three new malls that were launched in June and July 2017: Spot Choueifat, Cascada Mall, and ABC Verdun. We do not have any other bids in the pipeline in Lebanon, whereas in Jordan and Algeria it is a continuous process.

What are some of Pikasso's CSR and environmental responsibility initiatives?

CSR is one of Pikasso's commitments to its stakeholders to conduct business in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner that is transparent and ethical. Being an ISO-certified OOH advertising company, we continuously seek many opportunities to serve the community and intend to make a positive contribution to the society in which we operate. Socially responsible behavior is an integral part of Pikasso's core values as we believe in the importance of “giving where we're living”. In that pursuit, Pikasso has developed the Citizen Billposter Initiative that offers free of charge advertising space to different NGOs.

What role does innovation play at Pikasso?

We have always been at the forefront of innovation in the OOH field. It is important for us to be and remain the number one reference in our markets, to be a role model, and to serve our clients by proposing the best-in-class OOH solutions, delivering efficient campaigns. Historically, Pikasso has installed in Lebanon the first pre-wet poster paper billboard, the first prisma Trivision, the first networks as sales concept, the first seven-day campaigns, the first aesthetic billboards, and the largest façade wall, and we have launched the only OOH award on creativity, the Pikasso d'Or, which is now a regional event. Innovation is in our DNA. OOH advertising has evolved enormously. We have been rolling out digital screens as of 2010. Today with 70 roadside digital screens, Pikasso dominates Beirut city and the main highway to Jounieh. But the digital transformation is not about installing a screen. It is about using all the capabilities of DOOH from engagement to customer experience, from relevant and contextual advertising to time-segmented campaigns, from facial recognition to broadcasting live content. It is a whole new world.

What are some of your main priorities?

Our first priority is to continue the digitization of our inventory. Our second priority is to work on promoting the capabilities of DOOH mainly at the level of the planning and the concept. Our third priority is to focus on the four new markets of West Africa we just penetrated. Those will be our main focuses for 2017.