Despite success stories like the Hutch campaign, Chennai's outdoor advertising scenario has been seeing a lot of rough weather off-late. With a total of 2331 hoardings, the Corporation of Chennai controls outdoor advertising in Chennai.
According to A.G.Nayakan, secretary, The Tamil Nadu Outdoor Advertising Association, "After having to fight the DMK government that wanted to ban outdoor advertising, we are now fighting the Corporation of Chennai".
Erecting a hoarding requires the payment of two kinds of taxes; a lease rent for using a public area and a display tax, for displaying the advertisement. Explains Nayakan, "The corporation hasn't collected the display tax since 1987, and now they asking for the payment of huge sums." He also added that according to the new act of 1998, the Corporation has to hand out licenses. Says Nayakan, "We still haven't got them. Having these licenses would mean the removal of several unauthorized hoardings."
However despite the Outdoor Advertising Association's wars against the Corporation, many believe that, outdoor advertising is slowly moving towards becoming a primary media vehicle. According to Kishen Shah, President, The Tamil Nadu Outdoor Advertising Association, "Outdoor advertising works out a lot cheaper than if you were to place an ad in the newspaper of television. While a couple of ads might be necessary to get the attention of a newspaper reader, one prominent hoarding in a prime location will do it over the period for which it lasts."
Media planners who claim that Chennai is an outdoor market do not however look upon outdoor advertising as a secondary media vehicle. While many give examples like Airtel, others explain that the difficulty lies in creating short, crisp catchy phrases that will catch the attention of one driving by. Hence, after creating much brand awareness through newspaper ads, the hoarding is often used as a reminder. But according to P. Lakshmi Narayanan, TBWA Anthem, "In the present scenario, with everyone wanting to cut costs, a hoarding performs the task of creating awareness and interest at much cheaper costs. So outdoor advertising is certainly not a secondary media vehicle anymore."