After the & #BANNER1 & # promise of riches to come on Day 1, it was time to explain some responsibilities for OOH on Day 2 of the AOA (Asia Outdoor Advertising). Gavin Coombes, chief executive officer, Futurebrand, set the ball rolling with his session on branding strategies using outdoor media. He was followed by Jim Goh, regional managing director, Omnicom Media Group, who raised the issue of effectiveness of outdoor communication.
Almost on cue, in the sessions following these two, Koshi Uchiyama, .com director, (suit)men entertainment, showcased ideas such as 'Big Shadow' (a brilliant tech-led interplay of shadows 'created' by consumers on city walls, enhanced by the use of technology) and a 'Live Colour Wall' project for Sony, where anyone could 'change' the colour of a building by picking a colour. He stressed the need to merge the best of technology, entertainment and design to ensure OOH truly delivered to its consumers.
David Guerrero, chief creative officer, BBDO Guerrero Ortega, built on the responsibility theme in an interesting presentation titled 'The history of the World in 10 and a Half Billboards'. Building on instances starting with Hammurabi's code, which he described as the first billboard, Guerrero went on to make a strong case for outdoor practitioners to ensure that their offerings were not just entertaining, relevant and effective, but also useful. Or risk being classified as urban spam, and provoking the sort of reaction they got in Sao Paolo, where the city authorities, fed up with the cluttered skyline, have banned billboards altogether. As visuals of another cluttered city, Manila, came on screen, Indians in the audience would certainly have noticed the uncomfortable resemblance to parts of Mumbai.
Guerrero signed off with an unforgettable ad from Japan, where adidas hung two experienced rock climbers in front of a billboard painted like a soccer field, which was 10 storeys high. The climbers proceeded to play soccer with a ball hung at the same level, to the delight and astonishment of watching crowds in one of Tokyo's most crowded and cluttered districts. The coverage the ad got worldwide alone made the stunt worth it.
The day was signed off by Malcolm Hanlon, CEO, Zenith Media China, who proceeded to explain just why the Chinese OOH market was so delectable. An incredible 14.55 per cent share for outdoor in media spends, a growth rate that would take it to No. 2 in the world by 2015, and the available of cheap technology to execute tech-led innovations. The last was important, simply because out of the top 10 advertisers on outdoor, eight were tech companies, making it obvious that tech would drive growth in more ways than one. His grouse with the industry - the lack of creativity, which he hoped would be fixed soon.
Hanlon couldn't resist commenting on the attraction of outdoor for another reason, the amazing valuations mainland companies in the business are getting in stock markets. With almost each of the top 10 either opting for an IPO or in the process of doing so, this was one market where the option of getting in cheap was fast disappearing for Western companies. So, don't be surprised if you hear about the next wave of consolidation in the relatively 'cheap' Indian market.