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OOH Interviews

Sudhir Sharma

Director | 23 Dec 2005

OOH and technology are intricately linked. In India, we still have to see lenticular being used; I also feel that a lot more mobiles will be used in the future. I hope our basic infrastructure improves fast…because OOH will depend a lot on roads, electricity. More and more people, especially the youth, is spending time out of the home, and the only effective media to attract and engage this category is OOH. Here, too, the OOH pricing is much cheaper than radio, TV and print, which are more mature medias. So, I feel OOH is at a golden step right now.

Pune-based Elephant Design is a design firm responsible for creating, repositioning and redefining several well-known brands across a wide range of industry segments. Established in 1989 by a five graduates from the National Institute of Design (NID), Elephant Design has gone from strength to strength because of a simple belief- contemporary design requires a strong convergence of various disciplines. At Elephant, designing is a holistic approach comprising a detailed understanding of a client’s business and the environment, strategy action and plan, designing and execution.
Sudhir Sharma, Director, Elephant Design, handles new initiatives, business development and planning. He is also a visiting faculty on corporate identity design and management at NID and MICA. In conversation with Shikha Saroj of exchange4media, Sharma talks about OOH still not being a developed medium in India and how this can be dealt with. Excerpts:

Q. How would you define Elephant Design?

We started Elephant Design in Pune in 1989. All my exposure and learning has been the exposure and learning of Elephant Design and my partners. We work in a variety of design fields, right from corporate identity programmes to product ideas and product development. We believe we are actually a brand shop, which can create products, package them, fill emotional values in the package and help communicate and distribute to the world.

As pioneers in this field we are also the largest design office in India and match the best in the world. My partners and I have a good exposure to the international design business and practice. We have given lectures in several countries and at several conferences.

Q. How do you think OOH has developed in the last few years?

Well, the world has actually moved out of home… so ‘out of home’ is the place people spend more time than inside the home. This has led to almost an explosion in the development of OOH, especially the design side where you want to be sensitive yet efficient.

Q. What do you think are OOH’s disadvantages and advantages?

OOH is where there is a lot of competition for attention of the audience. This is also a challenge, since you have to attract and be very meaningful, so that the audience doesn’t feel offended. In many countries, OOH has taken the technology route, we don’t know how will that mature. We have to wait and watch.

Q. What is your opinion on OOH in India as compared to OOH in international markets?

India is still a developing country. The physical infrastructure, except for a few places, is not in place yet. So, we still have HFS (high frequency stores), which are small and crowded along with fancy malls with space for visual merchandising. The packaging, POS and outdoors media is changing too… but the change is very slow compared to what has happened in other Asian countries or China. I think, we have a long time to go.

Q. How effective is OOH when compared to radio, TV and print?

As I mentioned before, more and more people, and especially, the youth is spending time out of the home, the only effective media to attract and engage this category is OOH. Here, too, the OOH pricing is much cheaper than radio, TV and print, which are more mature medias. So, I feel OOH is at a golden step right now.

Q. Could you tell us something about your client portfolio?

We work for banks, for automobile companies and for FMCG clients. Some of our clients are Reliance Industries, Standard Chartered Bank, Bajaj Auto, Maruti Udyog, Unilever, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Sports to name a few.

Q. List some of the OOHs (both of Elephant Design and others) that you think are innovative and effective, and why?

Elephant has worked on OOH solutions for a few Lever brands (one of them being Lux for whom Elephant defined the visual vocabulary) that were good. We travel very often and I was very excited to see Standard Chartered Bank’s in South Korea as they have implemented retail design that was designed by us.

Q. How can OOH be further developed and where do you see OOH heading in the future?

OOH and technology are intricately linked. In India, we still have to see lenticular being used; I also feel that a lot more mobiles will be used in the future. I hope our basic infrastructure improves fast… because OOH will depend a lot on roads, electricity.

Q. Tell us something about some recent, current or upcoming OOH by Elephant Design.

We recently worked on Bajaj Pro-biking. This is a new distribution channel for high-end bikes from Bajaj. We created the brand, designed the showroom, designed an interactive software for sales process front end, and also worked on the communication, etc. More of these showrooms will open in 50 cities. We are working on a very exciting range of products from a leading global company; this project will be implemented in about 70 countries. We are also looking forward to working with more banking, telecom and petroleum companies.

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