Despite its popularity, abroad, the format is yet to take off in India. A look at the challenges these 3D billboards face.
In July 2020, South Korean citizens passing by Seoul's COEX Square were in for a surprise. At a space where ads and billboards were previously seen, they were treated to the sight of a computer-simulated wave which appeared to be constantly in motion. Created by digital media company d’strict, this was the world’s first anamorphic DOOH ad.
To put it simply, an anamorphic image is one that appears normal only when viewed from a certain angle or a certain perspective. Using 3D animation, DOOH ads using anamorphic imagery can present onlookers with a larger than life image that appears to be popping out of the billboard.
Rachana Lokhande, founder at Glocal Bridge and advisor to the Indian Outdoor Advertising Association (IOAA) says that these anamorphic OOH ads come with 3D technology and are designed in such a way that the complete image with the three-dimensional effect is only seen at a particular angle.
“It’s a stretched image that's not in the same ratio as television ads. It caught on globally first and then we saw other brands jumping on to the trend. In India however, it has only just arrived. Two brands - Hyundai and Tanishq, have done it so far and we don’t have the infrastructure in place to do it on a large scale,” she says.
Brands creating anamorphic DOOH ads are creating the space and content for these ads on a temporary basis - say 10-15 days. In Hyundai and Tanishq’s case, the brands had built the space for the display from scratch.
Recently, Hyundai became the second brand to use this format in CyberHub Gurugram to promote its Hyundai Venue car. Vivek Srivastava – joint managing director, Innocean India mentions that the main intent when it comes to using DOOH with Anamorphic content is to create buzz and attract Gen Z customers. “The ideation was curated to showcase the advanced image of our client Hyundai at a marquee level,” says Srivastava.
WYSIWYG along with their partners Vantage and Spotlight, manage the DOOH for Hyundai Venue from production to content. The anamorphic billboard was done by them for Innocean Worldwide India.
Inventech, a Laqshya Media Group company, is the tech and content production company in India responsible for executing and creating India’s first 3D anamorphic installation for Tanishq in Mumbai, two months back.
Srivastava mentions that the agency’s media team studied the profile of the crowd and did dip/stick studies to ascertain their tastes and interests. “The location choice is determined by the traffic & footfall along with the ambient mood. Basis our checklist of key factors CyberHub in Gurugram ticked the right boxes as the ideal location,” he says. He adds that CyberHub also had the right infrastructure to run the anamorphic DOOH content.
Lokhande adds that its difficult enough to get permission for a roadside LED display. To put an anamorphic OOH ad together with all the permissions would be even more challenging. “We also don’t have a dedicated space for it where these ads could come alive, such as New York’s Times Square,” she says.
“People who’ve spent time on the internet might have seen these billboards on social media but to see it in real life is a heightened sensory experience. Brands who use this medium want their product to stand out and this format is very impactful that way,” says Lokhande.
She adds that the content that makes up these anamorphic illustrations plays in a loop and that the content for these DOOH billboards needs to be created separately. Lokhande says that the location is important for these billboards. It has to be set up at a place where there are multiple footfalls and where people can pause to take in the experience and record it on their cellphones.
Inventech's Sommnath Sengupta mentions that categories like jewellery, auto, shoes, insurance, beverages, OTT, mobile handsets etc. actively make DOOH ads - but it's important that the client shouldn’t treat it as a digital ad or an adaptation of a digital ad.
“Anamorphic content is created on a totally different medium, platform and software, and the main objective of the anamorphic content is to create an illusion that you can’t get in regular ads. It’s not expensive as it is one-time content, so rather than playing a static ad, clients can create anamorphic content, which will be a visual delight,” he says.
“To create any anamorphic illustration you need a budget of 20-25 lakhs and the novelty factor will last around 10-15 days. The idea is that people who view the content in person will push the content on social media via their phones. Social media becomes a kind of amplification platform in that context,” says Lokhande.
Laqshya has a long working relationship with Tanishq, and it launched the brand’s first “dream collection” this year. “We took the opportunity to create a magical illusion for the same and created an anamorphic installation at Bandstand. As we are the only agency in India with in-house anamorphic content creation capabilities. We not only created an anamorphic installation for Tanishq, but we also created an interactive anamorphic for the same campaign, which was an industry first,” says Sengupta.
Sengupta says that after the success of the ‘wave’ DOOH billboard in Korea, every big brand with the resources and tech expertise wanted to explore the possibilities in the DOOH billboard space. “They wanted to create something unique since it was a disruptive realistic creation in DOOH space,” he says. Laqshya also has an in-house content development team to create and process content specifically for the DOOH space.
According to Sengupta, out of home as a medium offers the biggest canvas in the world to display unique content ideas. “In India, we need more good anamorphic content creation to support DOOH inventory. Audiences love visuals, so we need to create illusions and delight in the anamorphic content to get the attention of the target audience every single time. Innovation is the key,” he says.