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OOH Interviews

Mukesh Manik

M.I.C. (Man-In-Charge) | 30 Sep 2013

In today’s cash-strapped world, marketers are under pressure to deliver big campaigns with smaller budgets hence, I strongly feel that the old creative principle of OOH industry – ‘Less Means More’ – can work in cash striven ad-world, wherein even with less budgets we can have more meaningful, creatively driven conversations on key strategic sites, which further would drive home the buzz for the client via earned-media coverage across other media verticals.

Successfully managing both the creative and the business side of things, Man-in-Charge and the face of Encyclomedia Networks, Mukesh Manik, is as creative and passionate about his work as he is about advertising and connecting with his clients, making sure he is involved in each and every campaign that is churned out of the Encyclomedia stable.

In his current role, Manik spends a large part of his time involved with the creative work within the Encyclomedia Networks design studio as well as bringing to the table innovative solutions that have helped propel the agency to be one of the most creative specialist outdoor advertising agencies.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Manik speaks at length about how the outdoor industry should focus on creativity, his expectations from the medium and much more…

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

The creative and the relevance to the viewer delivered in three seconds! Today’s consumers are yesterday’s Generation Xers – complete with short attention spans and the ubiquitous ‘been-there-done-that’ attitude. Spontaneity reigns supreme in their lifestyle; hence, only an outdoor friendly creative that focuses on what matters to them and what is the value they will get really matters. Thus, it’s imperative that an outdoor creative story is woven around the theme that the brand stands for and the impact delivered must trigger a sale. If it fails to grab their attention, there goes the sale.

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

On the media front, there have been some amazing OOH media formats introduced, some gain acceptance, some don’t. The success or failure of an OOH medium largely rests on the creative front, outdoor seems to be stuck in the past. The trend has not changed, especially when it comes to static mediums such as billboards, bus shelters, pole kiosks, etc., or for that matter, the adaptation of a print creative to outdoor. As a result, the medium continues to struggle when it comes to having a substantial increase in the ad-share when compared to mediums such as TV and print. An OOH media is an artist’s canvas. Would an artist write 50 words on a painting or would he mesmerise the viewer with his art and use of colours?

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

In today’s cash-strapped world, marketers are under pressure to deliver big campaigns with smaller budgets hence, I strongly feel that the old creative principle of OOH industry – ‘Less Means More’ – can work in cash striven ad-world, wherein even with less budgets we can have more meaningful, creatively driven conversations on key strategic sites, which further would drive home the buzz for the client via earned-media coverage across other media verticals.

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

It is unfair to make a comparison between India vs. the globe, simply because each country is unique and faces its own set of challenges. The comparison has to be made between India and another specific country, and the answer to this question would be different for each one. There are many OOH markets that are much worse off than India and many that are better for various reasons. For example, Singapore does not have billboards at all and rely mainly on transit media as its OOH offering, while the Middle-East mostly has media owners that control the print production as well, hence limiting experimentation with newer technologies. What I can say though is that if there is an element of standardisation of sizes and formats that can be introduced in India in the OOH space, it will go a long way in productive delivery and optimising resources.

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

A decade ago, digital in OOH had been at the cusp of changing the entire landscape of the Indian OOH industry; but it failed because it had its problems, viz. lack of standardised measurement body, isolated networks, over-promising and content mismatches. All that led to headache for the digital OOH operator and as a result many had to shut their shops.

And, even now we haven’t come to terms with the earlier problems. If digital OOH can make the content relevant or move towards positioning their screens as a replacement for a poster, it would work really well both for the owners as well as clients seeing value on the medium.

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

Recent cases of exclusive OOH-led campaigns being successful will tilt the scale in favour of deploying OOH media as the preferred choice. OOH campaigns that are disruptive, unconventional and most importantly, scalable will result in growth of spends on OOH.

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

Mumbai is expected to have its mono rail up and running between the 8.8 km long Chembur-Wadala corridor, with MMRDA inviting tenders for ads on the mono rail property. Hence, it will add more touch points for brand marketers to interact and present new challenges for agencies like us, who believe in turning the clutter into an opportunity and help narrate a ‘Brand Story’ that connects with the TG.

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

Despite the technological advancements across the world, outdoor’s core use will still be driven by the medium’s ability to build huge audience cover that captures the eye-balls via innovation, and this remains Encyclomedia’s key strength too, hence we shall continue to focus on reaching large numbers of consumers through memorable creative work across the globe, because that is still what connects with the masses and shall continue to drive the bulk of advertiser spend even when outdoor turns digital.

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