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OAC 2010: Engagement, and not innovation, is the key: Praveen Vadhera

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News | June 15, 2010
Speakers conveyed messages of moving beyond vinyl and also how to target the youth effectively using the OOH space

The second day of the Outdoor Advertising Convention (OAC) in Mumbai began with a nostalgic walk down memory lane, presented by Pratap Bose, chief operating officer, Mudra Group, which took the audience through the years of the evolving Indian outdoor industry and a few words by its key movers and shakers.

& #BANNER1 & #Later, Praveen Vadhera, country head, OOH, 141 Wall Street discussed 'Moving OOH to the next level - engaging the consumer through OOH'. He discussed how OOH can create experiential conversations between brands and customers.

"In the rest of the world, when it comes to the OOH space, people have moved ahead but here - we're still stuck. Maybe there's a mental block. Is there a certain amount of intellectual bankruptcy afflicting OOH agencies? I don't see any value being added," he stated.

He shared that 83 per cent of all information received is visual and a Milward Brown study suggests that by the age of 65, an individual acts on about 20,00,000 visual stimuli though he sees about four times of this figure in his entire lifetime.

Vadhera tried an exercise with the audience, where he asked them to recollect about four brands they saw advertised on outdoors on their way to the convention. While a few managed to do so, many struggled.

He also shared that he is now scared of the word 'innovation', as it has been over used. "The key word is 'engagement', which is interaction or innovation or a bit of both. The idea should be to 'engage', not innovate. This doesn't necessarily mean interact," he said.

"Let's not just do vinyls," pleaded Vadhera, after which he provided examples of engagement done by brands and services out of home.

In 2007, an anti-drugs campaign was targeted at youth in Singapore, executed by Bates 141 Singapore. The campaign's message was 'Drugs. If you play, you pay' and was intended to emphasise the reality of getting arrested and going to prison for drug related offences.

To reach out to this specific young target audience, a street art based campaign was done, which reflected the youth's lifestyle and interests. These ran as teasers, after which, a few days later, a street artist worked on the existing images - converting them into prison imagery.

For example, a picture of a young girl posing was converted into her being arrested by cops. Another glamorous image of a girl was converted to make it look like she was sleeping on the floor of a prison cell, while another showed a rapper later seen behind bars.

This campaign, Vadhera shares, received 32,215 online hits in a month and had 77 per cent ad recall.

Another engaging outdoor idea was created for Nokia's navigation. Swedish agency Farfar executed this by building and hanging a giant digital arrow above London, which the public could control by selecting a destination worldwide (sending the information through a text message or through the Internet). The arrow would then slowly turn and point to that destination and provide the distance as well.

"Surprise is another way to engage," said Vadhera, sharing an example of fashion apparel brand GAP, which turned its store on its head for a 'Sprize festival'! About 32 mannequins were flipped and nailed to the ceiling, in addition to tables and display racks, inverting the entire store. Going further to create a larger effect on the passersby and to draw them in, the store even flipped three cars and a hot dog cart outside. The activity generated a huge buzz and walk-ins.

One more engaging example he shared was that of McDonald's in London, where a giant LED was put up on the side of a building and a contest ran on it, where passersby had to capture (on their mobile cameras) McDonald's goodies on the screen that were seen floating around amongst other objects such as a football and an umbrella.

Those who were able to capture offerings like a coffee, a pie or a burger could go into the outlet nearby and redeem these.

Samyak Chakrabarty of Concrea (a youth marketing agency) kept the audience engrossed with his crisp and concise presentation on the relevance and impact of OOH among the youth in India.

He discussed youth brands that have created an impression with their campaigns and presence this year, including Red Bull, Youngistan ka WOW, Virgin Mobile and Tata Docomo.

He said that 'playing it safe' with youth marketing is the riskiest thing one can do. Instead, content should be co-created with the youth. "Make them a part of your brand story, shock them, be a part of their journey, be where they are, talk their language and very importantly, wake them up!" he said.

Chakrabarty opined that content targeting the youth should be interactive, should trigger thought, be quick and crisp and a brand shouldn't try too hard to appear cool since this just puts them off.
"When it comes to communication, the price shouldn't always necessarily be highlighted; similarly, celebrities being used as the only trigger should be avoided - they are not stupid and won't buy into that," he said. A brand should also speak differently in different OOH spaces such as clubs, campuses, college festivals and transit media.

Chakrabarty also suggested that brands should not try to hard sell anything to the youth. "They do not want to be haunted by the brand everywhere they go. If you are engaging, they will find you," he added.

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