TODAY´S NEWS

HOME OOH Sridharan

OOH Interviews

Sridharan

Vice-President | 24 Oct 2005

We love to satisfy clients, whether it’s working through an agency or directly with the client. If the product is likeable, then you will have repeat purchases. In print, once it appears, it’s done. In outdoors, there are multiple opinions that sometimes result in changes to the site or the site itself. It may result in issues on payments and other things. It is very satisfying to have happy clients. For example, Coca-Cola has been with us in Chennai since day one, which was August 30, 1994.

While a lot has been written on outdoor advertising agencies, not too much has been written on the hoarding owners, who supply the spaces to the agencies, and often to clients directly. Diamond Publicity, one of the largest vendors of hoarding spaces in Chennai, has been around for over 30 years now. Moving beyond Chennai, they now have a strong presence in the rest of Tamil Nadu, and have recently made their presence felt even in Bangalore. Sridharan, an MBA with an added Master’s in Economics, started his career with the company 26 years ago. Gokul Krishnamurthy of exchange4media spoke to Sridharan, who is now the Vice-President of the company, to get the perspective on the supplier clan, as it treads the mid-path between supplier and agency. Excerpts:

Q. How has Diamond Publicity evolved over the years?

We have been around for over three decades now. We own sites across India. We have around 400 sites in Chennai, another 250 in the rest of Tamil Nadu, and over 150 in Bangalore. We started with Chennai and have grown geographically over the years. Ten years ago, our presence was restricted to Chennai. Five years ago, we moved to rest of Tamil Nadu, and more recently, we moved to Bangalore.

Q. What is the scope of activity for the company?

We supply them to agencies and to clients who may choose to work with us directly. We do not push our sites. Whenever the need arises, we also source sites for clients from other vendors.

Q. Who are your direct clients? What is the percentage of your direct clients to agency clients?

Our direct clients include Britannia, Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Crocodile India, among others, and we supply to all leading agencies as well. The ratio would be 40:60, in favour of agencies. There are suppliers who hand out all their sites to agencies. With agencies, you can be rest assured that the sites will be sold because it is also their bread and butter. In the case of clients, we are not selling sites to them. We service them based on their requirements. We do look at offering complete solutions in terms of innovations, and sourcing other sites among other things.

Q. What kind of planning support do you give clients?

As I’ve said, we are not selling sites to clients. I am a site owner and that is the core of my activity, but in offering complete solutions to the client’s problem, we need to ensure that we suggest appropriate sites, suggest innovations and help the client execute them.

Q. Outdoor agencies are diversifying into comprehensive solutions. How about Diamond?

Our core is that we are site owners. I don’t think any major campaign has been carried out in Chennai without us being involved because of the quality of sites that we offer. We will stick to our core and have no plans to enter events and other domains.

Q. What is the scope of innovations in Indian outdoors? Have there been any that you have suggested / executed?

There is a lot of scope for innovations. Recently in Singapore, a helicopter was hired and converted to the shape of the product to be advertised and made rounds in the skies. In South Korea, a 400x40 feet hoarding for a Samsung Handset is today the talk of Asia. There is a lot of scope in India, too, but there is also some way to go. In our case, we have done a lot of innovations and that is the way forward. For example, recently in Sankey Road in Bangalore, we put up a Unipole hoarding, which has been very well received. It is an ongoing thing.

Q. What do you think of the government regulations prevalent in the outdoor industry in India?

Regulations are there in any industry. I cannot comment on what is sufficient and what is not.

Q. How much does the retail industry contribute to outdoors in the Chennai market?

Retail accounts for 60-70 per cent of the total outdoor advertising in Chennai. Chennai’s strength will contribute further to the growth of the outdoor industry. The share of outdoor is increasing continuously.

Q. How big is the Chennai market for outdoors compared to other Indian cities?

We need to think of revenues and not number of sites. In terms of number of sites, the Chennai market is huge, but in terms of revenues, it is not so high. The Mumbai and Pune markets together would perhaps account for 40 per cent of the total outdoor pie in India. Chennai would, in my estimate, be less than 10 per cent. The cost of hoardings in Chennai has not gone up like in Mumbai. On Marine Drive in Mumbai, most sites on an average would cost between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 4 lakh. In Chennai, the most expensive site would cost that much.

In terms of revenues, the Chennai market would be worth Rs 75 crore to Rs 100 crore. Given that it is a highly unorganized market, one cannot give an accurate number. The all India market is estimated to be in the region of Rs 800 crore.

Q. Is it true that new hoardings are coming up in Chennai everyday?

The city is very vast, and it is growing. The number of hoardings may be increasing marginally. For every hoarding that comes up, some are being removed as well. And I cannot comment on that.

Q. Is there an association to represent hoarding owners to the government? If so, what are the issues that they deal with?

We do have a Tamil Nadu Hoarding Owners Association. They represent us and engage in dialogue with the government on our behalf. There are issues, which crop up everyday. They deal with the government in case of problems and otherwise.

Q. How different is it working with clients directly and with agencies?

We love to satisfy clients, whether it’s working through an agency or directly with the client. If the product is likeable, then you will have repeat purchases. In print, once it appears, it’s done. In outdoors, there are multiple opinions that sometimes result in changes to the site or the site itself. It may result in issues on payments and other things. It is very satisfying to have happy clients. For example, Coca-Cola has been with us in Chennai since day one, which was August 30, 1994.

Q. Recently, there were some news items on hoardings falling down across the city because of winds and rains. Do you think all sites put up are sturdy enough?

During the rains, an antenna put up on Mount Road by a communications company had also fallen down. The winds were so strong. It was a natural calamity. This happens even abroad. In Columbia, a huge antenna had fallen down on a busy street, disrupting traffic for more than six hours.

When we cater to international clients, the product we offer should also be of international standards. We are in no way inferior. You simply cannot take such natural calamities as the yardstick.

Write A Comment

JOBS & CAREER