steady clutter of hoardings plastered across the skyline of a city, you suddenly see Akshay Kumar crashing out of a glass screen and jumping to grab a Thums Up. Moving on you see a Shoppers Stop hoarding with men painting on the new logo and message, only to realise a minute later that they are not really there - it's just an illusion. What's happening? Welcome to the next generation of 3D hoardings or, as Encyclomedia Networks, the OOH solution provider that created these, calls it, the 'iCatch billboards'.
Manik believes that an advertiser need not plaster a city with his brand message, a few attention grabbing hoardings can do the job just as easily - after all, less is more.
Speaking to afaqs!, Manik says, "We believe that investing in the quality of content rather than spending on the quantity fetches better returns."
Normally, 90 per cent of the cost of putting up a hoarding goes in the form of rental, while the remaining 10 per cent is spent on creative, administration and printing, and mounting. In such a case, when one invests a little extra on creative and print quality and reduces the cost of media space, the results could increase exponentially.
"Hundred billboards sound impressive, but they serve no purpose if no one looks at them. The effective use of the media canvas is the key," says Manik.
"Advertisers spend significant amounts of money on branding. In our case, the clients' money is spent more strategically on creative impact and print quality, rather than the quantity of the media used," Manik explains.
Kashmira Chadha, director, marketing, Coca-Cola India, says, "We got very positive feedback on the Thums Up outdoor campaign. The innovative hoarding designs were much appreciated and added to the effectiveness of our campaign. Encyclomedia's strength is in coming up with innovative designs in line with the overall creative implementation for the brand."
The 3D hoardings for Thums Up's outdoor campaign featured the moment when Akshay Kumar bends his back to get his Thums Up, conveying the message, 'Thums Up ke liye kuchh bhi karega'.
"It's all about engaging and exciting the consumer," says Chadha.
And in line with Encyclomedia's 'less is more' philosophy, the 3D Thums Up outdoors were strategically positioned only in a few locations in Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Another client, Spice Telecom, also seems to be quite satisfied with the innovation. The company's assistant general manager, marketing, Siddharth Mehra, shares his experience: "The work on Spice Telecom was spectacular. We had a lot of people calling us up and telling us how good it looked. It really took people by surprise."
Mehra explains that the telecom category uses a lot of regionalisation in its communication because of which it is quite dependent on OOH (out of home). But many other categories such as real estate, insurance and FMCG also use OOH now, so there is a lot of clutter in this space.
"Thus, we looked at doing something innovative, with more cheekiness in the idea and in the creative. This makes the message more interesting and noticeable. I'm really sure the iCatch hoarding met our objectives and helped in promoting brand awareness for Spice Telecom."
How long does it take to create an iCatch billboard? Manik says they usually turn around campaigns within 21 days. This includes thought, design concepts, final art and print production. "Clients accept these timelines and plan accordingly. Regular billboards are usually adaptations of the TV or print campaign and not original art. So, they take a lot less time to execute," he points out.
"The impact of a campaign is directly related to creative freedom," he adds.
Manik says advertisers now recognise the importance of bringing the brand to the consumer and are moving away from using traditional media in the way they have been used for so long.
For the record, Encyclomedia has a team of 40 people who operate out of an office and studio in Mumbai and work with clients from Chennai to Columbia.
Encyclomedia helps clients with effective use of floors, windows, tables, fleets and buildings, in addition to billboards. In India, Encyclomedia has worked directly with clients for the most part, but there have been campaigns in which agencies have been involved as well to make sure that the brand guidelines are followed. Internationally, the company works through its distribution partners, who share the same philosophy and, in turn, work directly with the clients.
About competitors in this space, Manik simply says, "This is an exciting time in our industry, when we are all able to capitalise on creativity. Our product is the idea. We believe that every agency has the skill to come up with great ideas."