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Pratik Sen

Partner | 08 Nov 2006

“We are a pro-client agency and the only objective we have is to be accountable for every penny the client spends with us and I guess all our clients will vouch for us in this regard. We always try to add value at each step when a campaign is in progress, starting from planning to post-campaign presentations. This was our approach for the Tesco campaign or the recent Suzuki Zeus launch campaign across 70 towns.”

Pratik Sen’s association with the OOH industry dates back 12 years when he joined Sujay Advertising in Bangalore. Prior to that he was with Eureka Forbes before the OOH industry beckoned him. He has also worked with the Selvel Vantage Group, Kolkata branch. Sen did a stint with Accord Advertisng, heading its Bangalore branch for one and a half years.

Finally, his love for the outdoor industry led him to start Media Mindscapes in 2001 in partnership with Ranadeb Paul, a friend and colleague from the industry. Their biggest achievement till date is that Media Mindscapes will handle all the international OOH campaign of the Ministry of Tourism’s Incredible India! campaign.

In an interview with exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha, Sen shares more about his firm, the state of the OOH industry and the way forward. Excerpts:

Q. How did Media Mindscapes come into being?

It all started four and a half years back, from a car as our office and with stationeries like letterheads and envelopes, going to cyber cafes to type proposals and taking printouts! I resigned from Accord Advertising with which I was associated at that point of time. Along with my friend, Ranadeb Paul, who was then working with Selvel Vantage Group, we decided to start this organization. We built on each other’s strengths to start this closely held organization. On launch itself we managed to break into Spice Telecom and retained the account for one full year. What started with an investment of just Rs1000 has today grown to a Rs15-crore company with three full-fledged offices in the country.

Q. Who are your major clients?

Currently, we are servicing the OOH needs of almost all clients of Grey Worldwide, Suzuki Motorcycle, Department of Tourism, ITDC, TESCO, Arvind Brands, Value Design Build, Fish Eye Creative, to name a few.

Q. What have been the major innovations in the outdoor medium in recent

Well, when we talk about innovations in outdoor, most of us refer to what’s happening around the world. But in India, keeping the limitations in mind, I think Ogilvy has done a great job when it comes to innovations. For instance, their work for the Titan Flip watch brand and also the Hutch Music campaign in Delhi and Mumbai wherein they created a huge record player that rotated on a billboard, thereby giving life to the flat medium, is really commendable. Making outdoors creative as per the individual media chosen for the campaign and convincing the client to do so is an innovation in itself. A billboard creative cannot be an extension of a press creative which most Indian clients and agencies do not realize and also expect this medium to pay its dues.

Q. Give us a brief overview of the work you have done for your clients in the

We recently did something interesting for our client Suzuki Motorcycle’s Zeus brand launch campaign. We selected some key locations in some major towns, and got the entire bike with the rider snapshot jut out of billboards to create a 3D impression. We also tried to make the brand name more visible at night -- it was a creative with a black background -- we got it outlined with neon lights. This bike has a special feature, the gear shift indicator – the light glows one at a time while the rider is changing gears to indicate on which gear he is riding. We got the same effect executed on a billboard in Ahmedabad.

We are a pro-client agency and the only objective we have is to be accountable for every penny the client spends with us and I guess all our clients will vouch for us in this regard. We always try to add value at each step when a campaign is in progress, starting from planning to post-campaign presentations. This was our approach for the Tesco campaign or the recent Suzuki Zeus launch campaign across 70 towns.

Q. How has the performance of Media Mindscapes been so far and what are your

Well, as mentioned earlier, we turned into a Rs 15-crore company in four and a half years -- from just Rs1000 in our bank when we started. Our objective remains the same -- to be accountable for each penny our client spends and not compromise with the quality of our service. We do not believe in entering into a price war to bag a campaign because we will then not be able to do justice to the brand, and end up compromising with the quality and lose the client in the process. We prefer to be expensive but also accountable so that we can retain the client.

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

Direct clients add more value to your kitty and you are appreciated and recognized for the good work you do for them, but also, at the same time, criticized for any small mistake. But with agencies, though you do all the good work, it is all recognized as the agency’s work, not yours. However, when you work with agencies which do not have their own specialized OOH wing, it is more like dealing with a direct client but, even there, you don’t get any recognition.

Q. The competition in the OOH market is getting intense by the day. How do you plan to remain competitive?

The OOH industry in India has seen major growth over the last couple of years, a lot of foreign biggies have entered the market. Many of the big names of the Indian OOH industry who have been responsible for giving a facelift to the industry are today happy selling themselves or tying up with a foreign OOH major. By doing this they actually let these foreign companies reap the long-term benefits.

We cannot stop these foreign companies from setting up shop here. Fortunately, there are some big new players from other parts of the media industry coming up with deep pockets and making their presence felt. Jointly these two forces are going to rule with almost 95 percent market share in the near future. At this juncture, I feel it’s time we have to have a third force in place comprising like-minded small players across the country to take control of the 5 percent market share left. If we try to fight amongst ourselves, we will even lose that opportunity.

Q. Coming to a broader perspective, how do you compare the Indian outdoor advertising industry with the global market?

To put it in one sentence, the global outdoor advertising market is organized, has a professional approach and the investment in outdoor is huge abroad. On the other hand, in India, the OOH market is fragmented, we have a casual approach and moreover there is a lack of investment.

Q. Do you think that there are certain segments that benefit more from the OOH

Well, on the face of it you may feel it’s a medium tailormade for telecom but we need to understand that it’s a reminder medium where you can project any brand larger than life. Let’s not forget the dictum ‘Jo dikhta hai wohi bikta hai’. So it’s a medium which can be utilized by almost all segments of brands and services.

Q. What are your future plans?

We will invest in lots of medium in the tier II cities. This is mainly because we cannot compete with the biggies in terms of investment in the metro towns and options of new media are mostly saturated in metros. The investments are huge in metros but the percentage of return is low whereas tier II cities are still open to explore, investment is low, and the return percentage is much higher. In fact, we are working on various projects in the northern region.

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