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Kaushik Chakravorty

Country Head | 18 Oct 2006

With more and more global OOH majors coming into India, the outlook of the clients, the specialist agencies and also the media owners will undergo a sea change. Technology, innovation and accountability with service delivered to the “T” will be the benchmarks that clients will use to judge us, and we all have to stand the test. OOH will evolve beyond its ‘static media’ heritage. Consolidation will also play a key role in taking OOH to the next level.

With more then 16 years’ experience in sales, market development, client servicing and account management with senior and top management responsibilities, across media companies and MNC organisations, Kaushik Chakravorty currently heads the newest division of Starcom MediaVest Group – Enhance.

This division is a sister unit of StarSight, the OOH division of Starcom, and works towards establishing state-of-the-art media assets in niche ambient environments, and also provide navigational and branding solutions for high footfall premises, like hospitals, malls, mass transit, airports and other such areas. Enhance shall also partner the retail and merchandising activities of various brands and work towards providing them with world class marketing retail solutions.

Enhance is in the process of setting up offices in all major metros across India. The core team consists of qualified and experienced architects, designers, and material and production specialists, as also dedicated client servicing professionals.

In conversation with Shikha Saroj, Chakravorty talks about his plans for Enhance and the where the OOH industry in India is headed.

Q. How did Enhance come into existence? How different is it from StarSight?

As a practice, Starcom professes and practices holistic, media neutral strategy and planning for all its clients. As an extension of our unified services to the client, it was felt that we needed to have a specialist unit that can cater to the retail and ambient visual communication requirements of our clients. Thus, Enhance was created as a separate division of the Starcom group, to offer specialised services to independent as well as Starcom clients in the field of Ambient Media Assets, Navigational Signages and Retail Branding Solutions.

It is different from StarSight in its offerings, moreover it is a separate company. However, it works very closely with StarSight as well as other divisions of Starcom and is, of course, the newest and latest division of Starcom. In terms of offerings, while Enhance offers solutions in visual communications in various ambient environments and retail, StarSight undertakes the brand communication strategy and implementation of the brand offerings in the outdoor and OOH space. As part of its operations, Enhance is also into providing consultancy to premise owners for establishing media assets in their properties, while StarSight consumes those media assets so created as a part of their media plan that they offer to their clients.

Q. Who are the key people at Enhance?

Ravi Kiran, our Group CEO, gives us strategic insights, while my senior colleague, Sanjay Shah, CEO, StarSight, and an industry veteran of 25 years, guides and advises us on a regular basis. With the advice and support given by Sanjay, I lead Enhance as a business unit for Starcom with the help of the team.

The team in Enhance comprises people from varied professional backgrounds and with wide expertise in their respective functions. We have production technologists, colour specialists, architects and other specialists working with us in the team having expertise in providing solutions in diverse environments like hospitals, malls, schools, townships, retail stores, etc.

Q. What do you think about the sudden recognition/importance that OOH is getting in India?

As mainline media gets more and more cluttered as well as fragmented, OOH gains in importance as a critical medium to connect with the consumer and capture their attention when they are most receptive. With more and more people spending a greater part of their waking hours outside their homes, OOH will only gain more and more importance.

Q. What are the current OOH trends that Enhance is exploring / using?

Enhance is using, proposing and exploring all opportunities that are available to provide the most aesthetic and appropriate ambient and retail solutions to its clients for a given environment. Technology driven solutions like Plasma Technology, LED Technology, Holo-FX (a proprietary 3-D holographic system), Ambient Projection systems, World Class Signage Designs and materials are extensively being used by Enhance.

Q. How would you compare OOH ad spend vis-à-vis total ad spends done by brands/companies?

This typically depends on the markets and the consumers the brand or the company is targeting and there is no fixed percentage or spend pattern that can be declared as universal. Typically, any brand or product which has a B2C business module and/or retail business module would be using OOH as an important medium.

Q. Has the ad spend increased or decreased? Why?

For most clients whose brand message needs to be communicated directly to the consumer, the ad spends have increased. This is mainly as a function of people extensively spending an increasing portion of their waking hours outside their homes. Thus, the probability of captivating and connecting with the consumer gets an incremental fillip when the brand communication is showcased at appropriate locations with the best suited OOH medium.

Q. What are the factors that have worked for and against OOH in India?

The main factors that have worked for OOH in India would be the booming consumerism trend that India is witnessing coupled with changing lifestyle and behavioral pattern of the consumers. As for factors that are working against OOH, I guess ROI and measurability of effectiveness of OOH as a medium are factors that need serious answers. However, the good part is that some very professional people from the media in general and the OOH industry in particular are trying to address this issue, and I hope we will soon have a workable and acceptable measurement tool in place.

Q. Tell us a bit about some special projects handled by Enhance.

Enhance has essentially been operational for only a few months, and I must say that we have been accepted wonderfully well by our clients, both within the Starcom family as well as by independent clients. Some of the projects we are working on include doing retail branding for the largest read publication in the world, a store level retail visibility enhancement programme for a paint major, navigational and township planning solution for a South India based world class group, etc.

Q. Who are the clients that Enhance is currently servicing?

We are doing an all-India retail branding programme for the world’s largest read newspaper. Also, we have designed and are executing a dealer shop retail visibility programme for a paint major. A financial major has also entrusted us with their retail identity programme, while in the navigational space, we are working with a couple of hospitals, and also with a South India based organisation for their township. These are some of the major work that we have executed or are doing at present. Apart from these, some high potential clients are also in the pipeline. We are executing work for some other clients, like an upcoming mall in Uttar Pradesh.

Q. How much of the work is shared between StarSight and Enhance?

Enhance is not a part of StarSight. Both are affiliates of Starcom MediaVest Group and work with interdependence. Since both StarSight and Enhance work in the area of out-of-home, there is good synergy which we leverage. That said, a good extent of the work that the two units do are fundamentally different.

Q. Where do you see the OOH industry in India five years from now?

Within the next five years, I see an evolution happening in the OOH space. With more and more global OOH majors coming into India, the outlook of the clients, the specialist agencies and also the media owners will undergo a sea change. Technology, innovation and accountability with service delivered to the “T” will be the benchmarks that clients will use to judge us, and we all have to stand the test. Specifically, OOH has to live up to the challenge of the era of visual engagement and will evolve beyond its ‘static media’ heritage. Consolidation will also play a key role in taking OOH to the next level.

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