Benita Chacko

RoshanSpace creates ‘Asia’s largest billboard’ in Mumbai

‘Bandra Focal’ not only provides brands a huge display, but also strategic location and real-time visibility data.

After months of lockdown, people are now slowly returning to their normal lives. This means after months of staying at home, they are now once again commuting to offices, shopping and going to the cinemas on the weekend and travelling on holidays. Among other industries, this has also given a much-needed boost to the Out of Home Advertising Media. A testament to this growth can be seen in the form of huge hoardings coming up around the city.

One of them is the ‘Bandra Focal’ billboard located near Bandra Rail Overbridge on Western Express Highway in Mumbai. Erected by RoshanSpace, it claims to be ‘Asia’s largest billboard’ with a 120x122 feet (14,640 sq feet) display. The brand aims to transform Mumbai’s OOH skyline.

Prior to this, the largest hoarding in Asia was a Global Advertisers hoarding at Kala Nagar Junction in Mumbai measuring 16,800 sq ft, certified by the World Records of India - 2014. However it is reportedly now reduced to 6400 sq ft.

It is not just the size, but the billboard’s strategic location also that offers brands an advantage. It faces the Arabian Sea and is placed at the junction of the Bandra Worli Sea Link and the Western Express Highway, a road connecting the business districts of South Mumbai with the western suburbs. It becomes a major traffic bottleneck, especially during the evenings, with vehicles coming from different directions joining here. Many vehicles travelling from South Mumbai to the airport also have to go through this junction. It is also visible to passengers travelling in the local trains on the Western Line.

RoshanSpace creates ‘Asia’s largest billboard’ in Mumbai

To provide their clients more data on its reach, it is equipped with a Vehicle Detection Technology to measure real-time reach. With the help of a camera installed on it and a software imported from London, it can keep track of the total number of vehicles passing by on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. As per this week’s report 20 lakhs vehicles have passed by it in a week. Apart from this billboard, the only other place where this software is in use in the country is at another RoshanSpace hoarding in Mahalaxmi.

“Our cost per thousand impressions (CPM) is based on real, verified data and not on historical estimations. A camera placed on-site anonymously captures every passing vehicle and classifies it by type, so brands know exactly how many impressions their ads are being exposed to. Apart from the amount of vehicles passing, it also tells their speed so brands can adjust its content accordingly. Measure and optimise is the future of OOH,” said a company spokesperson, requesting anonymity.

The structure of the billboard is also unique with round pillars and they have applied for a trademark on it to ensure nobody imitates it.

The work on it began in December last year and was completed in the beginning of this month. The first brand to feature on it was Parle Agro’s Appy Fizz. The brand booked the billboard in advance for their national campaign. This was followed by Whatsapp’s ‘View Once’ campaign.

Made of 700 tonnes of steel, the team had to face many challenges while erecting the billboard structure and it took 30,000 man-hours of work. The soil at Bandra East is soft and marshy making it challenging to erect the heavy structure. Moreover, being created during the lockdown it was difficult to source raw materials and labour.

“When we were working on the final design and planning, there were issues with how the structure is going to be put up, because it is a soft and marshy land. So that had to be taken into account while deciding the depth we needed to go down. When we did a soil test it said we needed to dig only 10 metres, but eventually the structure had to go down to 25 metres,” said the project manager, requesting anonymity.

RoshanSpace creates ‘Asia’s largest billboard’ in Mumbai

Lighting such a big structure was also a challenge. They got people to design it and did simulations to work it out. Now it is equipped with ‘Smart Illumination’ that can help monitor the illumination status and provides remote access to it.

“We were trying to figure out how to put these lights in and at the last minute we decided to make a cantilever and it worked beautifully. Earlier we were trying to put pillars but then we decided to take it out from the structure itself so it looks like it's in midair and floating,” he added.

RoshanSpace creates ‘Asia’s largest billboard’ in Mumbai

At a time when the OOH industry is recovering from the pandemic’s severe aftermath, RoshanSpace is confident that this billboard will attract significant ad spends. “Post the second wave the demand has reached the pre-covid levels. Advertisers are looking out for interesting and clutter breaking ways to communicate to their audience. That is why we have invested in something that goes beyond just being a medium and stands out as an icon or landmark in itself,” he said.

RoshanSpace is a Mumbai-based media owner. Owned by Junaid Kader Shaikh, it is a sister concern of Roshan Publicity. It is now creating 27 new LED cantilevers. “No one has done that yet, but this is under process; it will take time,” he concluded.

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