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OOH Interviews

Mukesh Gupta

Managing Director | 17 Sep 2005

“OOH is very effective and very economical in comparison to newspapers and television. It has a very strong impact for brands like Pepsi, Coke, Airtel, Hutch. Effective brand promotion requires substantial advertising through outdoor media. Outdoor advertising will play a very major role in future.”

Mukesh Gupta has made his mark in a wide array of fields comprising advertising, entertainment, art and culture. He has been instrumental in devising innovative marketing strategies and effective media buying for his clients to enable them to achieve their targets without feeling the pinch of rising advertising tariffs.

Gupta’s career began in 1978 when he found Rashtriya Advertising. Following a mutual decision to part ways with the family, Gupta started Rashtriya Outdoor Advertising in 1991. He took over the reigns of GraphisAds in 1997 at a time when the company was going through a rough patch with a turnover of Rs 1 crore per annum. Gupta’s pioneering efforts led him to take the 30-year-old agency to great heights and the agency clocked a turnover of Rs 65 crore in the previous financial year.

In an interview with Sumita Patra of exchange4media, Gupta shares more about the outdoor advertising industry. Excerpts:

Q. How do you see the outdoor market scenario in India at present vis-a vis the global market?

Globally, outdoor advertising is very popular as corporations abroad have recognized the outdoor media as a very popular medium of advertising. But in India it’s very unfortunate that government, local corporations are yet to see the positive side of outdoor advertising; they think that financially the returns are not much. So they don’t promote this medium.

However, now In India, many multinationals have entered and they have changed the total scenario of outdoor advertising because they have good experience of outdoor in their countries. You will see that in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, USA, London these multinationals put up huge billboards. That’s why they are experimenting with this medium in India. They have approached outdoor advertisers like us to do some new things. These MNCs are the biggest proponents of OOH in India.

Having said this, let me add that the future of outdoor advertising in India is very good and we are very hopeful that it will reach great heights.

Q. What steps do you think should be taken in order to make the government realize the potential of OOH?

The government should think about the revenue potential in promoting OOH. Advertisers are ready to pay all taxes. They need a professional approach; they should run like a private company not as a government office. If they work with such a mindset, outdoor advertising will get a boost and government will earn handsome revenues.

Q. How is outdoor perceived as an advertising tool compared to print and TV? How effective is this medium?

Outdoor is very effective. In fact, when you are on the road, driving, outdoor hoardings are in front of you and you can’t miss them -- you have to see them. For newspapers and TV, you have to spare the time to either read or see. So outdoor is much more effective. In television advertising, you spend so much more, yet, in a few seconds, the TV advertisement dissolves. In the case of newspapers too, you have just seen the ad and then flip over to another page. But in outdoor advertising you will see a hoarding on a daily basis. It’s very economical.

Q. A few years back the Supreme Court banned all outdoor hoardings and billboards in Delhi. How did this affect the OOH industry?

This is because hoarding owners displayed very huge hoardings, they were erected in very ugly shapes, they damaged the skyline of the city. Therefore, the Supreme Court ordered removal of all hoardings. But after some time, some city beautification projects started and very good quality public utilities and bus shelters were erected. So, now the way outdoor advertising is done has changed. Earlier it was only hoardings, now it’s public utilities and many other things. Therefore, as I see it, outdoor advertising will improve in future.

Q. Can you share some details about your client portfolio?

We are working for all multinationals; in fact, we have sole rights for some media which is very effective and any OOH campaign in Delhi is bound to take our media also. We have sole rights for kiosks in West Delhi and hoardings on railway flyovers in North-West Delhi and some parts of South Delhi like Safdarjung flyover, Shanti Path, SP Marg near Maurya Hotel, Barakhamba Road. Now, we have been allotted hoardings on MCD toll collection points at all entry points in Delhi like Mehrauli Badarpur Road, NH8, Kundli border, Badarpur border, Kalindikunj, etc. All these points are good points for outdoor advertising and all the national and multinational clients are displaying their media on our sites.

Q. What are your company’s billings today?

We touched Rs 65 crore in the last financial year, and we are very hopeful of touching Rs 100 crore very soon.

Q. How much outdoor advertising contributes to brand recognition?

OOH is very effective and very economical in comparison to newspapers and television. It has a very strong impact for brands like Pepsi, Coke, Airtel, Hutch. Effective brand promotion requires substantial advertising through outdoor media. Outdoor advertising will play a very major role in future.

Q. What is the process you go through to acquire a client and how do you carry it forward?

Most of our business comes through the Top 10 ad agencies only because today the big budgets come from multinationals or national products only, and all the big clients are with only Top 10 agencies. Looking into the mileage and progress of outdoor media, these agencies have developed their outdoor media separately. They sell our sites to their clients and some clients give us direct business. So most of the business comes through these agencies. There are some clients who give us direct business like some insurance companies, banks and some local clients.

Q. What are the key factors on which growth of OOH is dependent?

It will depend on government’s attitude. Government agencies and corporations can help outdoor advertisers to promote this media and effective creatives from agencies will also help this medium of advertising.

Q. How has outdoor advertising evolved over the years? How do you see OOH headed in the next few years?

In the next five to six years I am very confident that this industry will improve, it’s a very popular media and growing by the day. So I am very hopeful that this media will grow very fast.

Q. What is the growth plan for your company beyond conventional outdoor advertising?

We are trying to improve new media now. We have started mobile vans in Delhi. We have a fleet of 35 vans which runs in NCR and North India states. For these mobile vans we are trying to provide new concepts -- we have started an air-conditioned bus which runs like an office for HP. It goes to the company’s dealers where the sales persons of the company congregate. They are taken inside the bus where demonstrations of all HP products are made. In the near future we are planning to introduce LED electronic boards which we hope will become very popular.

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