The Starcom & #BANNER1 & # MediaVest Group has launched Enhance, a unit especially dedicated to create ambient media assets, navigational signages and branding in the retail space. Enhance is an Indian entity and has currently started operations in Mumbai. It hopes to cover the six metros by the end of 2006.
Starcom has roped in Kaushik Chakravorty as Enhance's country head. Chakravorty, who has been in the field for 16 years, was general manager with Primesite, the OOH (out of home) division of Mudra, before he joined Enhance.
As per a survey, nearly 30 per cent of a person's time (equivalent to five hours) is spent out of his home. "And this figure will only increase," Chakravorty says. Enhance will work at creating ambient media assets in high traffic locations such as airports, bus stops and the organised retail environment.
Enhance will also deal with navigational signages to make way finding simpler. Usually, people depend on landmarks, confusing signs or, simply, the people around them for directions to a place. "This is still, largely, a chaotic activity. We believe that the industrial environment, malls and healthcare facilities such as hospitals will benefit particularly from this."
Here, Enhance's offering will include innovative designs, brand consulting and execution. Chakravorty adds that Enhance will focus particularly on the language aspect of the signage. "For instance, in the state of West Bengal, a signage should first have the names in Bengali, followed by Hindi and then, perhaps, English. Simple things like this make a difference," he says.
A third space that Enhance is eyeing is retail branding. From 1947 (when India became independent) to 1997, there were no malls in India. In the period between 1997 and 2004, there were only 12 malls in all of India. This figure grew to 40 in early 2006 and, now, around 300 malls are expected to be in place by 2008. "This shows how quickly the mall culture is catching on in India," says Chakravorty. Enhance will look at exterior and in-shop signages in this space.
The Enhance team will comprise project managers, architects, designers, material specialists, fabrication experts, quality auditors and domain specialist client servicing teams. Enhance will service both the Starcom MediaVest Group's clientele as well as other clients. In fact, Chakravorty claims to be in talks with certain banks, FMCG and durable brands, and public and private hospitals, with the aim of offering Enhance's services to them.
Incidentally, the Starcom MediaVest Group had already set up a unit dedicated to outdoor solutions, called Starsight, in July 2004. Ravi Kiran, CEO, South Asia, Starcom MediaVest Group, insists that Enhance and Starsight will play two different roles. "At Starsight, the focus is on understanding the brands and help in planning and buying outdoor media," he says. Enhance, on the other hand, will look at creating ambient media in places where it isn't present or in places where it isn't being fully utilised. "It will help premise owners make better use of their properties," he says.
But couldn't the functions that will be performed by Enhance be handled by Starsight? According to Starcom officials, Starsight was facing hurdles in a few key areas. For one, ambient media has no standardised format in India and its media ownership is often not well defined. Besides, no one really provides a pan-India plan. "Therefore, we felt the need to set up a dedicated unit for this purpose. This will help us focus on the ambient media in a better and more specialised manner," Kiran says.
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