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Brent Kennedy

President & CEO | 16 Sep 2004

“OOH as a medium has the greatest flexibility in terms of being able to transform ideas and imaginations into reality and as long as we have people walking on the streets, the industry has an exciting future. To be better off, marketers will have to look at ways the customer can interface with products, with brands, when he is out on the streets.”

Brent Kennedy started his career at DDB as an Account Director on the large account of McDonald’s in New Zealand and has spent half of his advertising career of 20 years with the agency. Brent’s passion for non-traditional ‘media-neutral’ communication campaigns was channeled into establishing a new sister agency of DDB known as Wow Rapp Collins (WRC). Under Brent’s leadership, WRC has won substantial business with its clients being awarded with dozens of promotion, advertising and direct awards. In 2002 he took up new challenges at DDB Japan where he is now President & CEO. exchange4media’s Preeti Jadhav caught up with him during his recent trip to Mumbai. Excerpts from the conversation:

Q. Could you please share with us DDB’s heritage?

The agency DDB was founded by Bill Bernbach, known as the father of modern advertising in America, in 1949. Bill is the godfather of advertising in the creative sense. Now DDB has its presence in 99 countries and is the ‘most awarded’ agency in the history of Cannes. Our major clients amongst others are Dell Computers, Volkswagen and McDonald’s.

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

One interesting trend in the industry all across is that marketers are now thinking beyond individual media; they are looking to reach the consumer with innovative ideas, which will help them to interact with people in the best way. If one traces the evolution process ... first it was advertising and then sales promotion came along. Post the sales promotion, everyone wanted to do direct marketing and then of course, like now, everyone is looking at a more holistic solution to interact. Also, in the OOH industry today, the interaction between the Outdoor firms and the creative agencies have increased and this does help the communication process in a big way.

Q. To be more effective, what do you think the industry should do to reinvent itself?

Well, the OOH communication industry needs associations just like doctors and teachers; the industry needs people who would speak on behalf of the entire industry and not only of their own agendas. In any industry, the brand leaders, the leading companies, become the focus of that particular industry. Likewise, even in India, over the next five years, as the Out-of-Home communication media develops even further, more clients and not mere media should be involved in issues and problems that are faced as these necessarily would be issues for both the media as well as the clients.

Q. What should be done to make the Out-of-Home brand communication industry more organized worldwide?

In other markets like the UK, which has just four major players, the industry is definitely organized. What one really needs to incorporate is a process where people develop business models best suited to the market, and, instead of looking at what goes on where individually, look at the entire environment. Perhaps that’s the way to go about and that is certainly the experience in Europe and America.

Q. How optimistic are you about OOH communication’s future?

OOH as a medium has the greatest flexibility in terms of being able to transform ideas and imaginations into reality and as long as we have people walking on the streets, the industry has an exciting future. To be better off, marketers will have to look at ways the customer can interface with products, with brands, when he is out on the streets.

Q. How do you foresee India catching up with the global competition?

In my view, India will very soon come on a par with the global players. With the development of retail, with proper control of the environment, India will soon be there. It is a whole learning curve that India is going to have to walk.

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