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Nabendu Bhattacharyya

Country Head - Landscapes & Signscapes | 05 Feb 2007

The Indian outdoor market looks positive in comparison to the global market, it contributes 10 per cent of the advertising expenditure and has been growing at 20 per cent for the last couple of years as against in the US where it is growing at a mere 2.2 per cent and Europe where it is growing at 6 per cent. Standardisation of the medium, aesthetic structures and scientific research will decide the quality growth of the medium.

Nabendu Bhattacharyya’s stint with Ogilvy Landscapes started as Head of Mumbai operations. He took on the responsibility of overseeing the Delhi operations in 2003, thus running Ogilvy Landscape’s two largest operations. With the formation of Ogilvy Activation in 2004, Bhattacharyya was given the additional responsibility of leading the much talked about Hutch outdoor campaign. His ability to build clients and brands on the outdoor media by his clear understanding of the market and creating a difference in the market place have played a key role in the continued growth of Ogilvy Landscapes, O&M’s flagship unit. He took over as Country Head, Landscapes and Signscapes, in 2005 and has successfully grown the business by 20 per cent in 2005 and 2006 consecutively.

Under his leadership, Unilever’s OOH business has grown 100 per cent in 2005 with the introduction of research (pre and post), campaign evaluation and innovations for each campaign.

Bhattacharyya currently heads Ogilvy Activation Static Media (Landscapes & Signscapes). He also initiated Ogilvy’s third OOH unit, Meridian Communications, towards the last quarter of 2006. Bhattacharyya dreams of controlling 60 per cent of the OOH business in India within the Ogilvy Outdoor Group in the next 12-18 months. It currently controls about 50 per cent share.

In this interview with exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha, Bhattacharyya speaks about the outdoor industry in India today and the technological advancements being made. He also describes in detail the campaign to promote the Hutch Pune International Marathon.

Q. Could you please give us a backgrounder on Ogilvy Activation?

Ogilvy Activation is the BTL total solutions division of Ogilvy and Mather that takes care of below the line need of brands. It consists of five disciplines – Landscapes provides OOH solutions, Outreach reaches out to the rural / low income consumers, Signscapes provides retail and visual merchandising solutions, Live manages urban promotions and events, Sports takes care of sports marketing communication. We formed Ogilvy Activation about three years back to offer single umbrella solution to brands and plan holistic solutions to suit brand needs.

Q. What are the main trends one sees in the outdoor industry today?

The main trends that we see in the outdoor industry are technological developments – LED display, scrolling display, digital media in malls and multiplexes, building wraps in outdoor media. There have been attempts of innovations in some campaigns. The need of the hour is industry unified research and planning in this medium, in other words, common currency and measurement. There are proprietary tools used by the agencies – viz. Ogilvy has its proprietary tool OSCAR (Outdoor Sites Classification Audience and Research). It delivers traffic counts and quality score of billboards.

With the entry of international players, the industry will get a facelift as they are setting shop with the promise of aesthetic structures, accountable solutions and research, mediums will positively be regularised and managed well as per international standards. Once research is done and ROI can be assessed, this medium will be comparable with the print and television mediums, and then we will see the real growth of the industry.

Q. How many of your clients have you independently pitched for and how many are carryovers from the creative agency?

Our winning rate for 2006 was almost 100 per cent, barring one or two clients that we didn’t win due to category conflict. We had 4-5 walk-in clients as well. This ensures our strength in the market place. We at Ogilvy Landscapes control 45 per cent market share controlled by the agency specialist; split between agency and non-agency it would be 50:50.

Q. What are the future plans for the agency?

We would look at consolidating our position. In the next 12-18 months we would like to strengthen our position further and aim to control 55 per cent to 60 per cent market share within the Ogilvy Group. We will be looking at international mergers as well.

Q. How would you compare the Indian outdoor advertising industry with the global market?

The Indian outdoor market looks positive in comparison to the global market, it contributes 10 per cent of the advertising expenditure and has been growing at 20 per cent for the last couple of years as against in the US where it is growing at a mere 2.2 per cent and Europe where it is growing at 6 per cent. Standardisation of the medium, aesthetic structures and scientific research will decide the quality growth of the medium. Big international players are bringing with them the latest technology such as LEDs, which are already visible at various malls, airports, etc. The government and regulatory bodies need to permit players in the OOH medium to use the full potential of video forms of the kind seen at New York’s Times Square or at Piccadilly Circus.

Q. What are the technological advances that the medium is witnessing? How would you compare OOH ad spend vis-à-vis total ad spends done by brands/companies?

The technological advancements the medium is witnessing include the introduction of LED displays, digital medium in retail store, wall wraps, light projection and MagInk displays. Bluetooth, Bluecasting, and laser shows are also gradually being used in India but are yet to be seen in a wide scale here.

Q. Recently, we have seen several entrants in the OOH sector, including some big international players. How do you look at the competition?

We provide solutions to a brand keeping in mind their specific communication requirements. We bring in OOH solutions to particular brand. The players who have entered are media owners hence, they would be interested in selling the properties. I see us going hand-in-hand with various mediums – viz. The Times of India for print or STAR or Zee for their channels. I see the entry of big players as an advantage for us as they understand the term accountability, therefore, we can offer our clients accountable solutions and our media partner will understand the common language. Therefore, big will become bigger.

Q. Who are your major clients?

Some of our AOR accounts include Hutch, HLL, HSBC, STAR Group, Cadbury’s, Walt Disney, Motorola, Tata Sky, and HT, among others.

Q. Ogilvy Activation had done an innovative outdoor campaign for the Hutch Pune International Marathon? Please elaborate on it.

Yes, the campaign to promote the Hutch Pune International Marathon, which was held on November 26, 2006, was indeed innovative. This initiative was executed by the Ogilvy Landscapes team. For this, we created a platform on special billboards put up at East Street and Deccan Gym areas in Pune and placed a treadmill on it with a man running on this treadmill for three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening to attract the attention of Puneites and encourage them to take part in the Marathon. We put up a total 25 billboards to promote the Marathon, two of which featured a man running on a treadmill.

It was an interactive activity. It was a campaign, which was connected to the health of the people, encouraging them to take part in the Marathon. The campaign created a lot of hype, with several people showing interest in participating in it. It found an instant connect with people.

Q. You recently forayed into Bangladesh. Could you tell us more about it?

Yes, we recently opened an office in Bangladesh. Our operations haven’t started yet. It would take a few months for operations to start completely.

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