Out Of Home advertising - The next big thing

MUMBAI: While the traditional means of advertising such as print and television have their own space, out-of-home (OOH) communications is speedily gathering pace and carving a niche for itself. Primesite (part of the Mudra group) - a leading OOH brand communications agency, showcased the importance of OOH communication, yesterday in Mumbai.

The key speakers were DDB Creative Japan head Brent Kennedy, Primesite president Indrajit Sen, Zee Network's English channels business head Ajay Trigunayat and Outdoor Today and Pop Today publisher Vasanth Jante.



Today, OOH communications makes more than 10 per cent of the total media mix and it is most definitely towards the rise, as more and more companies want to catch the attention of those who are out of their homes. So as people are moving away from the so-called 'arm chair' media, OOH is gaining importance. The challenge however is how to develop creative ideas for these and how to talk to these consumers?



Kennedy is a firm believer of Albert Einstein's words - "Imagination is more important than knowledge." And of course, this holds true as far as advertising is concerned. He presented a case study of the vodka brand Smirnoff, which was not a very popular brand in New Zealand but that was before DDB Creative rolled out an innovative ad campaign for the same. Most of the media mix to bring about an awareness for the brand involved OOH communications. The ad got rave reviews and what it did to the brand is a different story altogether. What the agency did was put out huge hoardings in the country but without ever revealing the brand name. Innovative was the key word. Stressing on the 'OFF' in Smirnoff; the creatives were on the lines of something like this -- The half Day OFF, OFFicial Holiday, Pressure OFF, Dance your ass OFF, Pointless meeting OFF etc. Interestingly, in all the ads, the OFF was from the Smirnoff bottle, which was placed in a way that only the 'off' part of Smirnoff was seen.

The result: Vodka sales increased by 35 per cent in the next quarter in New Zealand; there was a 50 per cent increase in brand awareness; the website, which was mentioned in all hoardings became the number one food and beverage website; the ad went on to win the Gold and Silver at Cannes and also more than a two dozen other awards. Quite phenomenal. Also notable is the fact that the agency spent only about six to seven per cent of the total budget on television ads, whereas the lion's share of the budget went to OOH.



Kennedy then spoke about the different kind of OOH communications that can be used. Railway seats, subways, stations, point of sale television, interactive OOH. Another interesting example he gave was that of the music band called SMAP. The band had 22 albums to their name and were very popular. When they released their 23rd album, something innovative was done in order to be different. A beverage called Drink Smap was created and was sold through vending machines all over Japan. Hence, here the beverage that was created was used as a drink and also a merchandise to sell the '23rd' album.

Trigunayat, on his behalf, spoke about how Zee's strategy for their last two big events --- The Zee Cine Awards 2004 and India's Best - Cine Stars Ki Khoj --- was 'One to One'. For advertising these two events, the network primarily used television as it gave the highest reach, then came print, radio, web and outdoor and then was OOH, non traditional means of advertising and ambient media. OOH was used for gaining reach in uncharted areas. The Zee Cine Awards was made totally interactive, where people could vote for their stars. For the same, dummies of popular stars were taken in open jeeps (just like politicians) in 31 Tam cities to influence votes for 16 days. The number of people who voted -- 1.6 million! There were cut outs of popular Bollywood stars placed at traffic signals, Pan Parag outlets, Playwin outlets, cinemas, Essel World and at the Crossroads mall in Mumbai. The result: the Zee Cine Awards telecast was one of the highest watched programme and it in turn increased the reach of the channel by four times.

For Cine Stars Ki Khoj, the channel used ground level promotions and also an innovative 'Shock Tactic'. At the audition ground, a guy dressed like Amitabh Bachchan from one of his earlier movies would come out of the blue and start dancing. Then he would suddenly disappear. Later an announcement would be made that that guy was practicing for the auditions. This did create a lot of curiosity.

What Trigunayat stressed on was that OOH communications provide quick reach, creatives can be changed frequently, low cost of production, customised or localised campaign. In short -- OOH = Versatile medium!

Primesite's Kaushik Chakraborty cited an example of what the Reliance Group did when they took over BSES. OOH, as a medium was used to the maximum. The new company was named Reliance Energy and the first thing that they did was brand their office building in suburban Mumbai with their name. No one could miss it as this brought about the highest level of awareness in the least amount of time. Reliance brought about branding and marketing in the utility segment so that the customer could absorb the soul and the intent of the brand. The new company changed all existing outlets of erstwhile BSES and gave them a common face. The task at hand was huge because people were used to BSES and it was a habit for them, something that they took for granted. And hence a mere ad campaign would take forever. So the investment that was done was done with a purpose. Signages were used as a directional guide to help customers in the Reliance Energy offices. Also, well executed billboards to enhance the visibility of the brand.

So in order to make a tangible, visible and measurable difference in the brand, OOH was used as an overall brand strategy.

The publisher of India's first magazine on outdoor advertising - Outdoor Today, Vasant Jante spoke at length about OOH communications and how more and more people were now using it as a major part of their advertising strategy. Jante said that the two brands (one Indian and one international) that entirely built themselves up from scratch using only the outdoor medium were Amul (no doubt) and The Economist. Every year, The Economist has only two short bursts of advertising - during spring and autumn. A total of four weeks of advertising yearly! Again, in this case, as in the case of Amul too, creativity played the most important role.

Primesite president Indrajit Sen said, "OOH industry is not very organised but with the spends in outdoor and visual merchandising exceeding Rs 2000 crores, the area of communication cannot be ignored anymore. Marketers want their audience to have a uniform experience at every engagement and this can only be achieved by an integrated approach where the clients gets a holistic view of his campaign right from the creative, planning and execution across multiple formats and across the nation."

While creativity is the key differentiator as far as OOH communications is concerned; the Indian outdoor industry has already achieved two milestones --- the advent of the grand format and that of specialised outdoor agencies. From the looks of it, these new trends are all set to redefine outdoor communications in India.

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