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Vijay Cavale

Director | 16 Sep 2013

We are still fairly unregulated as an ‘industry’ and that is one major factor that also hampers growth/ investments in the business. Quality media formats complementing the outdoor environment is one of the key features of the global OOH industry, while here in India, we have a fair way to go. In India, we are yet to come up with an industry affiliated ROI model, thus dampening the growth in business.

Vijay Cavale, Director, Brand Connect Communications has over 15 years of outdoor experience with agencies such as Madison and Ogilvy & Mather India. He was part of first agency set-up (1996) at Ogilvy & Mather India, working on brands such as Airtel and Nike. Today, he is the founder and partner at Brand Connect Group, one of India’s fastest growing investor-funded agency. Brand Connect is a diverse group venturing into OOH, activation, high street retail, and motorsport.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Cavale speaks at length about his views on the Indian outdoor industry, his agency’s strategies for the coming months and much more...

Q. What are the most important factors while connecting with the audience through OOH?

Outdoor-friendly creative and quality media formats are critical in OOH on a transactional level, and strategic planning entailing identification and prioritising of various touch points catering to different target groups can yield desired results, thus, these factors become critical from an overall media effectiveness perspective.

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

Till 1996, we had painters with ladders and now we have LEDs and vinyls. Bus Q shelters were cement blocks with no sitting facilities and airport advertising was very basic translites. Urban mass transit systems did not exist and street furniture was a foreign concept. Before 1996, there were no specialist OOH agencies and now, we have 80 per cent of the business through specialist agencies. Also, we have a lot more brands entering India, especially international ones, in the last decade and they almost all use the OOH medium. A drive down the urban roads, a visit to the mall, a flight from T3 at the IGI Airport in Delhi, a journey on the Metro – would suggest that OOH has grown by leaps and bounds in these last 20 years.

Q. What do you think needs to be done to push the Indian OOH industry forward?

The challenge is having a fresh brain pool. There is dire need for good talent/ people to come into the industry. All the good brains seem to be going into other media and entertainment opportunities at this time. By the way, at the last count, I think OOH has still not been accorded industry status by Government of India.

Q. How would you compare India’s OOH industry to the global one?

We are still fairly unregulated as an ‘industry’ and that is one major factor that also hampers growth/ investments in the business. Quality media formats complementing the outdoor environment is one of the key features of the global OOH industry, while here in India, we have a fair way to go. Also, the presence of various ROI models globally helps advertisers to gauge campaign effectiveness, which is an acknowledged driver for attracting investment into the medium. In India, we are yet to come up with an industry affiliated ROI model, thus dampening the growth in business.

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

Unfortunately, digital OOH has not worked in India till date. Rare exceptions can be digital screens at controlled environments such as cafes, malls, and airports, these have had some qualitative impact, but are basically to my mind not digital (they’re just mini TVs) and quantitatively have not done much. I suppose the jury’s out on this one – yes, there exists scope for digital interactive OOH media, but no one’s done it as yet.

Q. What are the major trends you see that will shape 2013?

I think, due to various factors there will be lack of growth overall in 2013 for most players – agencies or vendors. A few smart players will invest in quality media formats in controlled environments, and agencies will strive to innovate in order to stay relevant to the brands they manage.

Q. Are any infrastructural or regulatory changes expected in 2013 that will impact the industry?

None that I can see at this time.

Q. What are areas that Brand Connect will focus on in the months ahead?

We will continue to invest in our people and processes and seek to drive innovation in all we do. We would diversify our risk and plan for growth by not necessarily doing things differently, but also by doing different things and challenging conventional wisdom. We have, for example, moved our focus from plain activation to sports activation and are excited at the early trends/ business results.

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