Bernard Azria, CEO, Cote Ouest – Cote Ouest expanding in the production of original African content


Bernard Azria
Côte Ouest

Côte Ouest is a distributor of audiovisual content so, what are the main reason of your participation at the Future Ad Africa conference?

There are two main reasons for our participation. The very first: As you know, technology has long been used to practice what we call the Digital Product Placement which allows brands to be integrated afterwards on an already completed program. The convenience of this technology, which is now perfectly accomplished, is to locate broadcast versions by varying the brands that appear on the screen according to the broadcast territories.
The second most important reason is that we have recently expanded our business to create original content; so, as a distributor, we also became a producer.

Côte Ouest enjoys a comfortable position in the distribution. Why are you now joining a risky activity like production?

For a simple reason. It’s because I’m convinced that today the whole purpose of our job is to create quality original content and make it available. For more than two decades, Côte Ouest has been the leader in content distribution in Africa and we were the first to achieve the largest aggregation and filtration of African content and build a unique catalog that we call: “United Content of Africa “. This catalog is the widest, richest and most varied ever created. It includes 13000 hours of content originating from the four corners of the continent but also from the diaspora. We then realized that to continue to distribute the best of African content, we now need to get involve in the upstream value chain and therefore necessarily intervene in the process of creating original content. Today, we commission or co-produce an average of four new programs per year.

We understand that you have an advertising background?

Indeed, I created the first advertising agency in Central Africa in Douala in 1982 and then I built a network of advertising agency, McCann Erickson. This network included agencies in Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritius, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, etc., and our main clients were Unilever, Nestlé and Coca Cola. In 1997, I sold all my interests to McCann and founded Cote Ouest. So, I have the advertising DNA and experience in audiovisual media.

So, this advertising background gave you a special perspective of today’s industry?

Yes certainly, it allows me to better understand the tectonic movements that currently affect our professional activity, which revolutionize the consumption habits of the audiovisual media. It fragments and boosts audiences, turning each target into moving targets causing advertisers to invest in audiovisual content. Product placement, brand positioning, brand and content are already in fashion and will remain.

What are projects that you are currently working on?

We are finishing a series in Ghana called “40 & SINGLE”. We will soon start filming a series in Abidjan called “21”. We are bringing to completion a police procedural series in South Africa called “GOSPEL”. And now, we have started rewriting an African telenovela by adapting a format from South America. But also, through our talent incubator, we have already developed branded content for short formats and we work with a brewery, a chocolate factory and a cosmetics company.