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OOH Interviews

Sanjeev Goyle

Chief of Marketing - FES & Business Head – AppliTrac | 05 Feb 2014

The outdoor industry needs to be more organised with structured operations and feedback mechanism; campaign measurability and execution excellence can be the hallmark for OOH media. Innovation would sustain the outdoor medium for a long time. Trust is built by the way you see and perceive a medium and the results it gives.

Sanjeev Goyle, Chief of Marketing (FES) and Business Head of AppliTrac, Mahindra & Mahindra, has over 27 years of experience in rural marketing, with 11 of them spent in Mahindra & Mahindra. He has handled large rural brands such as Mahindra & Swaraj tractors, Panama Cigarettes, Forhans toothpowder & brushes, Anacin, etc. In his prior position at Luxor Writing Instruments, he was responsible for roping in Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador for Parker Pens.

One of the key focus areas for Mahindra & Mahindra is the rural belt. To drive promotions and audience visibility in these regions, the company makes a large-scale use of OOH. In conversation with exchange4media’s Abhinn Shreshtha, Goyle speaks about the challenges of marketing in rural areas and the importance of planning.

Q. Your main focus is on rural areas. What is the difference in OOH campaigns run in rural areas as opposed to urban areas?

There are some important aspects which differentiate rural outdoor campaigns from urban. Firstly, community engagement in rural areas is extremely critical and helps seek social approval on a product/ service being considered for purchase. The customer engagement is primarily one to many.

Product demonstrations are a must in rural areas. While most consumers are value conscious, rural consumers tend to be more value conscious than their urban counterparts. Hence rural customers expect a touch and try experience to understand the benefits and economic impact of the product, which enables them to arrive at a buying decision.

Q. Last year saw an increasing shift among advertisers towards ROI-based advertising, especially when it came to rural areas. Do you see this as a new trend in OOH?

ROI based advertising is critical for all brands using outdoor media. It’s important to be able to measure the impact of this medium. All our initiatives are linked with ROI and we measure the impact of our BTL activations on a regular basis. We have a robust IT-enabled sales system which tracks enquiries, conversions and analyzes sales in order to measure impact on bottom-line.

Q. How important is innovation in OOH advertising? Could you give some examples that you have incorporated?

Due to proliferation of media, there is a massive clutter of advertising messages in the market. Innovation helps break this clutter and makes the messages noticeable.

Innovation drives the brand values in a simple, relatable and memorable manner. For example, one of our campaigns called ’Puddling Ka Maharaja’, explains the concept of mixing mud with water for preparing the rice field and this is demonstrated through wrestling. This concept was integrated with TV channels by associating it with games related to wrestling. The second campaign is the ‘Arjun Simulation’ where driving a tractor was actually simulated to create a real life experience for the farmer.

In rural India, seeing is believing, hence, its essential to create brand visibility. The brand is built by an experience a customer has with our dealers and products. We create an experience prior to purchase through Showroom on Wheels. We go to the customer’s doorstep and extend the touch & try experience with demonstrations and test drives. Brand Mahindra tractors has been innovative in engaging with the rural customers through ‘Mahindra Mahotsava’, ‘Technology Mahotsava’ and ‘Aerial Branding’.

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

There are limitations faced in terms of creating a product experience or understanding the consumer’s psyche with use of media other than outdoor. These two perspectives enable us to spend equally on on-ground marketing campaigns. We allocate broadly around 30-40 per cent of our advertising spends to below the line activities.

Q. The OOH industry is largely labelled as unstructured. What challenges does this throw up for you?

The OOH industry is unstructured. Reach due to geographical spread, scalability of the concept and measuring the impact created by the campaign are some challenges we face with the medium. But we manage them with a well defined plan and measurement parameters like enquiries generated, test rides, number of deliveries. We also take qualitative feedback for new campaigns to gauge the impact of the campaign.

Q. Beyond innovation, do you think smart planning should be the ground rule while designing an outdoor campaign?

We do extensive planning well in advance of the campaign break. Better planning ensures efficient execution of campaign and its effectiveness. While designing our campaign, we need to keep in mind the crop seasons, festivals etc. as these are key months for tractor purchase. The buying time and the campaign should be timed accordingly. A route plan, which tracks daily campaign movement, is made in coordination with the on ground sales team. A campaign SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) with details like time of reporting to the dealership, pre-publicity, event time, and availability of tractor for test drive are planned in advance.

Q. The outdoor industry doesn’t have a common currency. As a marketer, how much does this worry you?

Yes, common currency is a challenge in this unstructured industry. But it does not worry us, as already mentioned we have a robust structure in place in terms of planning, execution and measuring the campaign. Also, there is a learning curve for clients and agencies alike and hence, typically we work with the same partner so that the learning can be leveraged.

Q. What are the key elements that you would want to see incorporated in an outdoor campaign?

The outdoor campaign should be aligned with a well defined objective and should ensure customer engagement. The communication should carry the brand values in a simple, relatable and memorable manner and should be innovative and clutter breaking.

Q. What are the changes that you would want to see in the outdoor industry that will lead to retain brands’ trust towards this medium of communication?

The outdoor industry needs to be more organised with structured operations and feedback mechanism; campaign measurability and execution excellence can be the hallmark for OOH media. Innovation would sustain the outdoor medium for a long time. Trust is built by the way you see and perceive a medium and the results it gives.

Q. Technological advancement is making it possible to conduct cross-platform advertising, for example, use of QR codes to connect mobile phones and OOH hoardings. Have you considered experimenting in this area?

We have not used this medium for reaching out to our customers in rural India. But yes, it is an important tool and can be considered going forward.

Q. How does Mahindra & Mahindra try to tie-in its advertising across platforms and what are the challenges in this?

We undertake a 360-degree campaign to surround the consumers and keep them engaged with our brand. In rural India – ‘Seeing is believing’, hence it is essential to create brand visibility through various platforms. Rural communications has its inherent challenges like market access (reach), innovation in communication, measuring the effectiveness of initiatives, media dark areas and a very diverse segment.

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

Yes, digital is the next big thing in the OOH industry. The extensive use of digital media can be witnessed in malls and airports with the digital conversion of posters, billboards. The digital medium has huge potential to help create live experiences and seek instant feedback. With clear measurability one will start seeing clear results, which will make the medium more trusted and will add to its effectiveness. We realise that traditional media will have to integrate with mobile platforms as it is imperative for rural audience.

Q. With digital advertising becoming increasingly popular, many feel that brands will divert their funds from traditional media like OOH and radio to the digital space. What are your thoughts on this?

Yes, despite being a rural brand, we too believe digital has become an integral part of the media mix and have set aside a certain budget for our digital initiatives. Integrating with the digital space is critical to make our communication more dynamic and interactive. Digital and mobile integration is in full swing across categories.

Q. Could you highlight on the most effective OOH campaigns that you have rolled out recently?

We have recently rolled out the door step delivery and door step demonstrations for our luxury tractor – ‘Arjun International’ in Punjab. Through this campaign we take the product to our customer’s door step and offer a delightful product experience.

In the past we have engaged farmers in Punjab through aerial branding to promote and create a buzz about our tractor brand Arjun Ultra -1 DLX. An aircraft was flown over towns and villages of Punjab carrying the brand message on a 19x100 foot banner. The objective was to generate a high brand recall value.

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