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OAC 2007: Outdoor can generate huge word-of-mouth, says Ravi Kiran

By , agencyfaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | June 11, 2007
Kiran of Starcom stressed that outdoor wasn't just a support medium and should be seen for what it can be

For an industry & #BANNER1 & # that is many decades old, Indian outdoor advertising has witnessed its share of heights (no pun intended) and downfalls. While industry experts at large believe out of home (OOH) advertising has great potential for growth and scope for further exploitation, one can't help but notice the various issues and umpteen problems that plague it. Speaking on the Indian context of OOH was Ravi Kiran, CEO, South Asia, Starcom MediaVest Group, at the Outdoor Advertising Convention (OAC) 2007 held in Mumbai recently.

Kiran touched upon the typical complaints relating to the OOH industry: non-standardised sizes and formats, moral policing, arbitrary regulations, no syndicated monitoring services and multiplicity of media owners with varying ethics. Kiran conceded that outdoor allowed room for creative solutions, but that raised another point. "Is there too much focus on creativity in OOH advertising?" said Kiran, and added, "Perhaps we need to re-evaluate the objective of the communication process, which is not just about getting noticed or winning awards, but also about delivering business results."

Ravi Kiran
According to Kiran, there are four steps in the communication process: insight, leading to strategy, followed by ideas and, finally, activation. While one tends to apply creativity in the last two, insight and strategy largely lack any creativity. Kiran felt that one should evaluate aspects such as consumers' relationship with the outdoor medium as well as the real role of outdoor in the media mix, before jumping up with the creative.

Kiran further said that outdoor wasn't just some support medium the way it is made out to be; it is an excellent way of generating word-of-mouth (WoM). He went on to cite an example from Starcom Mexico for client Visa, where OOH was used effectively for a campaign with a very specific purpose.

"Visa was the market leader in Mexico, but for some strange reasons, MasterCard was being perceived as the leader as it 'behaved' like one," explained Kiran. Through research, Starcom found out consumers have specific views on how market leaders 'behave' in the external environment. Quite paradoxically, consumers expect a leader to be all around them, and yet be seen as selective in whom they target. Further probing revealed that the general public didn't feel the need for any brand ambassador/mascot for Visa; the card itself was the most powerful weapon in the communication.

So, in Mexico, Brazil and Chile, Starcom rolled out an extensive OOH campaign which ran in and around the biggest malls and landmarks. The creative idea involved a giant blowup of the Visa card jutting out of monumental buildings (such as the Eiffel Tower) - in a sense, matching the buildings in size and stature. A giant wallet was placed at a popular spot, with Visa cards in it. The central thought was, 'It's everywhere you want to be'. Thus, Visa tried to scale up its image before consumers by matching itself to landmarks of high value. As a result, within three months, preference scores for Visa rose and its image scaled up to a desired amount.

"In outdoor, the advertised message is the only content so to speak - it's quite a unique medium in that respect," concluded Kiran.

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