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Praveen Vadhera

CEO | 18 Jan 2013

Digital integration has huge potential – from creating live experiences to getting instant feedback. According to me, digital is more of a play of technology and is not always defined by the internet space. With technology, research and measurability will start seeing clear results, which will make the medium more trusted and will add to its effectiveness.

In the business for about two decades now, and having worked across disciplines of OOH, retail, promotions and events, Praveen Vadhera is currently the division CEO of OOH at Bates CHI & Partners. Bates Wall Street came into existence in an earlier avatar as RMG david Outdoors as part of the Ogilvy group nine years ago with the joining of Vadhera. Since then it has undergone various changes to become one the leading OOH specialists in the country.

During his stint at RMG, Vadhera was also instrumental in setting up Ogilvy Signscapes, the retail wing of Ogilvy. Prior to that, he played an active role in setting up Primesite (Mudra).

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Vadhera speaks at length about at how outdoor advertising has evolved, digital integration, billboards and more...

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

I don’t think out of home advertising has got a sudden recognition. In fact, the industry is building this proposition of recognition since 3-4 years. Though outdoor has largely played the role of a recall medium, with the initiation of use of technology and other avenues, it is going beyond recall medium. It is turning out to be an engaging medium. With technological advancements and measurability, things will change for the better.

Q. What are the factors you keep in mind while planning an OOH campaign?

Essentially, there aren’t any must haves while drafting an outdoor campaign. It is completely objective driven. One needs to keep in mind what one wants to achieve through the campaign. Reach and impact, thereby, become important factors to be considered while planning to achieve the end objective. When that is done other additional perspective such innovations, media choice can be put to use.

Q. How do you think billboards in India can be sophisticated?

A lot can be done in this area. Primarily what needs to be done is with global learnings create media formats that are city friendly and ecstatic. The problem in India is two-fold. One is regulatory issues that are not in place and secondly, outdoor is not usually considered in the development process of a city plan.

Understanding and recognising the power of the medium is necessary. A lot can be done even with the limitations that lay in front of us. Another limitation that we have in India is that we have a lot of traffic restrictions because of which innovative steps need re-thinking many a times. It is the mindset that needs a change. Many in the industry still don’t understand the magic that great designs can create on outdoor media formats. The industry is slowly working towards it, but as we all know, it takes time to shift mindsets.

Q. How different is OOH today compared to what it was a few years back?

On the surface if you look back, things have changed in outdoor in the last 10-12 years. Outdoor is today used at various levels in a brand’s communication plan. Things like product launches, engagement activities are few things that clients are demanding today through outdoor medium. Today, outdoor is an important vehicle in a communication plan.

Q. What you think the penetration of digital OOH will bring to the industry?

Digital integration has huge potential – from creating live experiences to getting instant feedback. According to me, digital is more of a play of technology and is not always defined by the internet space. For instance, augmented reality is soon going to be something to look forward to. What seems to be like a trouble here is sheer lack of understanding of the power of this integration. With technology, research and measurability will start seeing clear results, which will make the medium more trusted and will add to its effectiveness.

Q. Can you elaborate on the services offered by Bates Wall Street?

Bates CHI & Partners is a marketing communications network under the WPP group. The joint venture between Bates and CHI & Partners aims to be a ‘new model’ network with deep roots in Asia, world-class creative credentials, and use big ideas process to put together bespoke multi-disciplined teams from a variety of disciplines and geographies.

Amongst its various offerings, the agency has a dedicated network addressing the various out of home advertising requirements and communication needs of its advertisers, known as Bates Wallstreet. It offers comprehensive offerings, including traditional and emerging media solutions, with a pan India presence. Bates Landscape has been specifically set up to address the OOH and communication needs of the Vodafone business.

Q. What is there on your wish list for 2013?

Technology-enabled research measurability is something that I hope happens in 2013.

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