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Amitesh Rao

Director Brand and Media | 06 Aug 2012

“OOH has an important role in generating brand awareness and salience metrics from a brand building point of view. OOH is also a great place for innovation; it provides the flexibility to bring alive the brand proposition in a unique and distinctive way.”

As Director of Brand and Media for MTS India, Amitesh Rao is currently focusing on developing the MTS brand into a key organisational asset that enables compelling propositions for consumers.

In his career spanning 12 years, he has created and managed companies and brands such as Pepsi, Nestle, Microsoft, etc. in various capacities.

A confirmed technophile and gizmo freak, Rao began his career with RPG Paging, where he pioneered India’s first retail distribution mechanism for paging. As an entrepreneur, Rao co-founded Applied Research International (ARI), a technology firm specialising in real-time simulation solutions and enterprise applications, and now a major global provider of technology solutions for shipping.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Rao elaborates on how brand MTS has effectively tapped the OOH medium.

Q. MTS has widely used the OOH medium in its last few campaigns. What is the key strategy behind using this medium to its optimum?

We have been consistently using outdoor strongly across all markets from the time we launched. Out Of Home offers certain key advantages that make it very suitable for tactical messaging as well as brand salience.

Given that we operate across a number of geographies with an array of different products and bundles in each one; flexibility and speed of messaging is critical – OOH is well suited from this perspective as well.

Q. How effective is the OOH platform for MTS’ sustained brand building initiatives?

OOH has an important role in generating brand awareness and salience metrics from a brand building point of view. OOH is also a great place for innovation; it provides the flexibility to bring alive the brand proposition in a unique and distinctive way.

Q. How has outdoor helped MTS increase footfalls at its stores? How do you assess the audience engagement level?

Although, we have not typically not used OOH to drive footfall to a specific MTS outlet; catchment areas around key store locations do enjoy greater emphasis primarily as a brand salience tool rather than to specifically drive footfall.

Q. Does it bother MTS that there is no common audience measurement system yet in the Indian outdoor space?

We are keen to see the introduction of such a system. A significant proportion of our spends is in outdoor, and an objective measurement system will greatly improve efficiency and help optimise the spends as well as messaging.

Q. Is it always necessary to use innovation to deliver brand message in outdoor?

As mentioned, we primarily see two ‘avatars’ of OOH – one that is highly tactical, where the focus is on clear, actionable messaging and brand salience; innovation does have a role here as a means to magnify messaging.

However, it is the other avatar of OOH where innovation is an absolute must from a brand building and consumer engagement perspective.

Q. Could you highlight the most effective OOH campaigns that you have rolled out in the last six months?

There are many and they vary across all our circles of operation. However, some of the most outstanding OOH initiatives recently have been on our range of MTS MTag smartphones which included a superb innovation which allowed viewers to use a MTS Smartphone to project their own image onto a giant mock-up smartphone on the hoarding.

We have also used OOH effectively to promote Indian Idol’s MTS Golden Week, and for the MTS Super Zero campaign which launched a unique voice tariff plan in India.

Q. How much percentage of your marketing spends is allocated to OOH?

This varies from operation to operation and is dependent on factors such as the nature of the product, geographies covered, amongst others.

Q. What are the key factors that a telecom brand needs to keep in mind while planning to invest in outdoor advertising?

It is important to have a fine mix of geographical overlay with coverage and catchment areas. It is also important to have consistent visibility rather than sporadic bursts. Also, not to forget, clear and transparent mechanism to planning, buying and audit of OOH activities and the opportunity for innovation, especially with technology, are some of the boxes that should be checked while planning an outdoor campaign.

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