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OOH Interviews

Mandeep Malhotra

President | 14 May 2012

“Innovation is not the only way to stand out in the outdoor medium. It’s an easy methodology to get attention. There are brands that understand the value of this medium and use volume as a clutter breaking strategy”

Mandeep Malhotra heads DDB MudraMax experiential businesses (Kidstuff, Celsius, Terra and Concrea), its retail cluster (Prime Retail, Prime Consult, Prime Wayfinding, Multiplier and Pratham) and the OOH businesses.

With a Masters in Business Advertising from Melbourne, he has over 12 years of rich professional experience in outdoor media. Prior to this appointment, he has worked with Clear Channel India, OAP, 141 Wall Street (the OOH arm of Bates 141), Asian Age, Pioneer and Total Media Melbourne. He has managed brands in categories such as telecom, FMCG, retail media, finance and others. He has won four One Show awards, 3 Pencil awards and dozens of others at the Outdoor Advertising Awards (OAA).

Malhotra is a part of the Gold Lion team at Cannes. He has also received an award for The Entrepreneur of the Year along with bagging The Suit of the Year twice at Ogilvy & RMG.

He is the brain behind the recent successful launches of VW, Aircel, Pepsi, Reebok, HT, Jet Airways, Reliance Capital, Micromax, Amway, among others.

Here are excerpts from Priyanka Nair’s conversation with him:

Q. OOH is going beyond a recall medium to a compulsive element of every media plan. What is your take on this sudden recognition?

Three decades ago it was a dream of every bollywood star to be on billboards across the city. OOH medium back then provided glamour. With changing times the usage of the medium has found more benefits. Glamour clubbed with an objective of marketing is what brands use to get on the top of mind of consumers. With increasing awareness and reach, number of brands showing interest in the medium has also increased. However, there are very few brands that understand the value of the medium and use the right media combination.

Q. Is innovation the best way to stand out in the outdoor medium? What are the factors you keep in mind while planning an OOH campaign?

Innovation is not the only way to stand out in the outdoor medium. It’s an easy methodology to get attention. There are brands that understand the value of this medium and use volume as a clutter breaking strategy. Innovation in planning is another vanilla way of focusing on the precise target group. The objective of including the medium should be clear and then use of innovation at the right focus area should follow in the broad plan.

Q. Since there is no common RoI measurement for OOH in India, what benchmarks do you consider when planning for this medium?

We have research in place but every research across the globe is open to its own permutation and combination and is subjective. What brands need to focus at is to look if the overall objective has been achieved by using a certain media mix. Since there is no common currency in our industry in India, ‘measurability’ and ‘transparency’ are the most abused words. This is because investment in research in the medium is less. But with increased awareness, brands today have enough confidence in the OOH medium to go ahead and roll out a campaign even without demanding research to support its impact. They trust that OOH will provide them the required visibility.

Q. Which industry verticals are growing and investing in OOH?

E-commerce, a sector that created buzz in late 90s, has bounced back. It is showing a lot of interest in OOH. Media has got active too. However, telecom and financial sectors have cut down spends further this quarter.

Q. Do you think going digital is the next big thing in OOH?

According to me, digital is a method of connecting consumers without any barriers in a cost effective manner. At present, in India there is network of screens that are called digital by many in the industry but I believe it is merely the electronic medium which is nothing but hard equipments. Digital is an economic way of reaching to the masses. Only when traditional electronic equipment will be clubbed with digital activation using social media networks, will we see an eruption of digital OOH in India.

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