Branding companies, entertaining masses
When you talk of entertainment, events management and advertising in Botswana, there is no way you can avoid mentioning OP design and WeSSide Entertainment as these have become household names in their respective industries. What has maybe made the former a force to reckon with is probably the type of artists which it has brought into the country. These include Salif Keita, Shaggy and Don Laka to mention just a few and their shows have been nothing but successful. And behind these shows is a team that is led by the man who followed his passion for organizing parties while growing up in France and made sure he turns his love into a viable business. The Voice caught up with the party animal Olivier Prentout better known as OP to find out more about him, the journey he has travelled as businessman and his dream destination in as far entertainment is concerned in Botswana.
Q. Please tell a bit about yourself, who is OP?
I was born and bred in France and came to Botswana in December 1992 to be with my ex-wife. I am a party animal who loves to organize parties and events behind the scenes and then watch people enjoying what I would have put together.
Q. When was OP advertising and WeSSide entertainment formed?
I started OP design after few months of arriving in Botswana but later closed down. I then opened the company again in 2004 with another subsidiary WeSSide Entertainment which is an events organizing company.
Q. Of all the industries, why did you decide to venture into the entertainment and advertising field?
I have always been a party animal from as far as I can remember. Back in France while I was growing up my great interest was in organizing parties and I think I did that week in week out so really entertainment has always been a part of me. However when I was organizing those parties way back I never thought it would be something that I would survive on. The other reason why I also ventured into this business is because I realized then that there was no professional organization of events and efforts to bring in regional and international entertainers so it was again a question of filling in the gap which was there. As for marketing and advertising it’s because I am creative person and just love exploring creativity.
Q. So you running these companies with a natural talent?
Not really, I have professional qualifications in marketing and communications and also specialized in events management.
Q. Back to events management and bringing international artists into Botswana, which one has been your best show so far?
It’s difficult to say because all my shows have been successful and personally full-fiIling but I think bringing Shaggy into the country has been one of my greatest achievements because of who he is and the amount of work that was put in to make the show a success. In terms of the crowd which was the biggest by far, it was the one at the Monate Sukiri back in 1996 which a record 12 000 people, I actually shed a tear of joy because of the success of that show.
Q. How do you manage to bring international artists to Botswana, are there people or organizations that you work with beyond borders?
I have contacts regionally and internationally who help me bring any artist that I want into Botswana.
Q. What are some of the hazards of this industry?
There are no hazards really but the problem is that Botswana is a small country with a small market for entertainment. This then becomes difficult for people in the industry to make a living out of it. The other problem is that there are very few and next to none recreational facilities and infrastructure for entertainment.
Q. And what do you love most about what you do?
Working with people from different backgrounds and giving people first class entertainment. It is quite full-filling to put together a show which turns out to be a great success. In advertising I love the fact that I get the chance to be wild with ideas and creativity which at the end of the day puts smile on the face of a client.
Q. What is your dream in as far as entertainment in Botswana is concerned?
I wish Botswana could organize an international festival that would draw people from around the globe. There is a lot of talent in this country and a rich culture which can be showcased to the rest of the world with great success. I know it’s not easy to pull such a festival together but it’s a dream which will hopefully come true.
Q. Let’s talk about the just ended FIFA 2010 World Cup, did you salvage anything in terms of business seeing that there is an outcry that Botswana as a country did not benefit at all?
Oh yes we did, I will not reveal how much we made but believe you me we did significantly benefit thanks to Orange Cote d’ Ivoire who organized the deal for us. I was in charge of a group of people who came from that country to South African for the world cup including VIPs and journalists. I organized their accreditation, accommodation, cultural visits and made sure that they got everything that they wanted. Locally we organized the corporate gatherings to watch the matches at the GICC. So we really felt it.
Q. Now talking politics which we can’t avoid anyway because of the current happenings, what’s your take on the political situation?
I think it’s healthy especially for a country which prides itself as being democratic. Democracy has to accept diverse views and change but I hope that whatever happens will be for the good of the country.
Full names: Olivier Prentout
Date of birth: November 10 1968
Place of birth: Le Havre, France
Marital status: Single with two children
Car driving: Volvo SC90 but prefers motorbikes
Holiday destination: Ethiopia and Maun
Mentor: Late father
Source of inspiration: People of peace
Likes: Humble people
First thing(s) he does in the morning: Smoke a cigarette and drink coffee
Favourite saying: Just do it
Favourite gadget: His iPhone
Last time he cried: last year because of a woman (so no woman no cry)
Best moment: 1996 Monate sukiri show which attracted a record 12 000 people
If he were to spend a month in an island with one person it would be: Arsene Wenger(Arsenal coach so he can tell him how best to run the team)
One thing that most people don’t know about him: That when he came to Botswana he didn’t know English