afaqs!

The art of tailor-made in-store commercials

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News | May 21, 2008
At the Future Media organised event in Mumbai, industry bigwigs discussed ways of creating and adapting communication for in-store TV, the emerging retail medium

Future & #BANNER1 & # Media, the media arm of the Future Group, put together an event 'Gone in 30 Seconds - An Evening of Defining Trends', which included presentations by industry persons on how to create communication for in-store TV and felicitation of the winners of the Gone in 30 Seconds contest, which invited entries for ads created specifically for in-store TV.

KV 'Pops' Sridhar, national creative director, Leo Burnett; Karl Gomes, executive creative director, digital, Arc Worldwide; Rahul Welde, senior vice-president, media services, Unilever Singapore; Juju Basu, NCD, Saatchi & Saatchi; and Craig Mapleston, general manager, Bates 141 Singapore, presented their observations and case studies on the subject of in-store TV.

Partha Dasgupta & Craig Mapleston
Partho Dasgupta, managing director and chief executive officer, Future Media, started the discussion by saying, "Just as radio jingles cannot be adapted to TV, TV ads also cannot be adapted to in-store TV. There is a need to create spots specifically for in-store TV for better effectiveness."

Sridhar of Leo Burnett said, "What keeps us creative guys going is the introduction of something new. It took us 15 years to stop doing radio advertising on TV and almost 20 years to make ads more visually appealing than the audio. We have taken three years or so to understand virals and what to do with them. It's not been long since we understood what to do with digital and then came retail advertising."

Subhash Kamath & Rahul Welde
Sridhar said he wasn't sure if the world has understood what to do with this medium yet. "Where and how you use it is important and you have to use it strategically. One has to learn what this medium has to offer. You have to build interactivity; I think the more the interaction, the more the conversion. You have to create ideas which attract attention." He added, "You have to understand the sensitivities of the medium and what it can and cannot do." The challenges for in-store TV are that it is an audio-less medium and can arrest the attention of passers by for only a short span.

He played the Complan ad created by Leo Burnett (a boy hanging off beams to increase his height), but without the audio to make his point. "It makes no sense. The next step - but a lazy one - would be to add subtitles", and he showed this to the audience. Finally, he showed an ad on the same Complan theme created specifically for in-store TV, with animals handing upside down like bats, monkeys, etc. "This is what an ad may look like if you create it especially for this medium." Point taken.

KV Sridhar
Sridhar also gave the example of the silent movie, Pushpak, versus today's loud Bollywood movies. "These B-town movies would not make sense without sound, but Pushpak does because it was created specially to be a film without audio."

Gomes of Arc Worldwide shared ideas such as having an Internet connection on in-store screens where people could surf the Net or two screens could talk to each other, or gamers could play against each other from two different spots in a mall.

He gave examples of using multiple screens like the Rocky Balboa film launch, where Sylvester Stallone is seen training and running up stairs. This was adapted to a number of screens put up alongside an escalator where the same loop was played at different timings across the screens so that it looked as if Stallone was running up the escalator.

Karl Gomes
Another example was of a mobile dealer in Canada, Fido, which put up digital billboards in downtown Toronto that interacted with each other across the street. To celebrate the holiday season and promote wireless video calling on Fido's 3G High Speed Experience, the billboards featured a man and a woman each projected onto separate buildings or side by side on a single building. The two interact, throwing snowballs and making faces at each other.

Welde of Unilever thinks of in-store TV as an exciting medium. "It is a marketer's delight since it is closest to the moment of truth," he said. He shared two thoughts on the medium, "One, I don't think this is suitable for consumer engagement. The time is too short for engagement. It is more consumer entrapment or consumer enticement because the consumer is already in the store and ready to make a purchase. So, no lengthy commercials."

His second thought was that the conventional way of creating communication would not work. The creative process is too long with the client brief, then creative idea, then production house coming on board, the shoot, editing, client approval, and then the creative going on air. "This cycle is too large. In contrast, the in-store medium is snappy, it's here and now. So, is there a way through technology and brilliant creativity to churn out ads overnight?"

Welde added that conventional ads have feedback and research done over time. But since this is at the point of purchase, one can see if it is doing or not doing anything to the sales of the product. If not, the creative should be changed the very next day. "Also, in classical advertising, the one ad and sometimes, a few regional language edits, are broadcast nationally. But for in-store, you can have one communication message in a Wal-mart and another in a Big Bazaar. Thus, multiple creatives are required; day after day, ads will have to be churned out. It is a fundamental shift in the model of the creative process and production."

Vishakha Singh, director, MarComm, Future Media, shared case studies of how in-store branding and in-store TV have benefited their clients. Talking about the Times Now news branded ticker that ran on Future TV screens, she pointed out that 79 per cent of the shoppers walking out of the store rightly associated it with Times Now. Another example was of Go Goa, the Goa Tourism ads made specially for Future TV, which generated 2,500 responses within 15 days.

Basu of Saatchi & Saatchi shared ideas on how to adapt existing campaigns for in-store TV. His Plan A to turn an ad into retail branding is to cut out all the conventional elements of an ad like the opening, plot, product window, pack reveal, comeback and parent company logo. "All these things won't work for in-store TV. But some basics for retail space advertising are to make memorable ads with iconic messages, use arresting images, forget sound and dialogues as the only language in-store is 'noise', keep to a minimum length for the ad and make the brand visible early on, but again, sublime branding, because if there's a big logo, people will know it's an ad and they'll walk away."

His suggested Plan B was to "create a poster that moves". If one has an interesting print campaign, they have the option of bringing it to life. One can create a moving poster as opposed to TV communication being adapted. He gave the example of the Cox & Kings print campaign created by Saatchi & Saatchi, where parts of the ad were zoomed into, nuances were brought out and a moving poster effect was created.

Mapleston of Bates 141 said that good activation is "content in context". "It's the end of one size fits all advertising," he said. Advertising 1.0 was a one way push, 'I talk you listen', while Advertising 2.0 was the element of interaction, the digital revolution. But Advertising 3.0 enables consumers to play a role in the creation of content. "Interaction is about giving people the cues to find and engage with your brand with the tools they prefer to use."

He shared creative examples such as the 'Reactrix', which consists of digital images projected on the floor, tables, etc., that people can interact with. Another example was of Sony Bravia's Color Tokyo Live Color Wall project, in which a live cam was set up to display the Sony building in Tokyo and Internet users could pick up colour from live feeds and commercials on screen using the dropper cursor and drop it on the building. The whole building would turn into the colour chosen by the user and this could be enjoyed live via the live cam.

A popular example he gave was of the Microsoft created MediaCart, smart shopping carts equipped with screens that scan barcodes of products comparing prices, give product info, provide electric coupons, recipes, store shopping lists and save shopper information and preferences.

One of Mapleston's learnings was that you must play up the strengths of the media environment and the mindsets of consumers in that environment.

The Gone in 30 Seconds contest invited people to create audio-less communication, 30 seconds or less, for in-store TVs on subjects such as a slice of life, humour or a social message. Around 150 entries were received and five winners (teams) were felicitated. The three winning creatives, which received Rs 75,000 each, were Doors, with the message that "education opens doors", Rash Driving, with the message that "life does not give you a second chance" and Passive Smoking Kills. The other two special prize winners were Bird Drop, with the message of "plant more trees" and Don't Drink and Drive. (See creative showcase to view the winning entries).

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