A quick look at TVCs running across all major channels, throws up an interesting fact. Despite the wide range of categories and brands that get advertised, one sector is sorely missing – that of apparel brands. With the heavy clutter on television, shrinking the chances of these brands being seen, while outdoors with their new technology in place seem to be emerging as the preferred media option.
Though television seems to be the most obvious media option, a small number of apparel brands advertise on it. Many see this simply as a result of budget constraints. Due to the high level of clutter on television, any brand would have to make a significantly high investment to rise above the threshold levels. While Suparna Mitra, Business Head, Lee, agrees that cost is one of the factors to reckon with, she claims that television, as a medium is better suited for a launch. “The reach television provides when establishing a brand is immense. But when you move beyond that point and want to advertise a particular range which changes every four to five months, television doesn’t make much sense,” she says. Madura Garments, on the other hand, has no TVCs at present as its focus is on promoting its retail business. “With hoardings, we can isolate a single exclusive store and promote it. This is not possible through a TVC,” justifies Vasanth Kumar, VP, Sales, Madura Garments.
Due to this and the new vinyl material being increasingly used, the importance given to outdoors has increased significantly. “I think it is the technology that makes hoardings such a beautiful medium. One, it is specific to the city in which you are. Two, it is so very life-like. It is like the center-spread of a magazine blown up hundred times,” says Govind Mirchandani, President and CEO, Weekender. According to him, the vinyl texture has the ability to enhance colour and conveys the right feel to the brand. Weekender, in its current season, has used outdoors as its main media vehicle.
Mitra agrees, saying that the options available with the vinyl material allows for a number of presentation styles. According to her, the medium is essential, especially in the promotion of youth brands. “While they (the youth) have no specific patterns with respect to their reading or viewing, the fact remains that they move around a lot. They notice hoardings and this reinforces the brand message,” she elaborates.
According to Vasanth Kumar, one of the main factors that have led to the increasing popularity of outdoors is the duration of its contract. “A regular hoarding contract lasts for three to four months which matches the length of a new collection. So, it ensures that a continual promotion of the new collection happens for its entire time,” he says.
Girish Menon, GM, MindShare, Bangalore and Chennai, notes that while hoardings were never the main media choice, their acceptance has been slowly increasing. Along with the enhanced quality of vinyl materials, he attributes this increase to the dropping vinyl rates. “Rates of vinyl material have dropped significantly encouraging brands to go in for more outdoors,” he said. Besides this, the new technology allows for the vinyl skins used in one place to be recycled at another, thereby, further reducing the costs. Vasanth Kumar echoes: “Earlier brands were hesitant to go in for outdoors as the rate of the vinyl material was higher than the rental itself.”
While most brands are optimistic about outdoors, the fact remains that its success varies from a case-to-case scenario. While Mitra confirms that its effect is not restricted only to the metros, Ajay Ramachandran, Brand Marketing Manager, Van Heusen, feels that certain cities react better than others. “Bombay shows a huge disparity in the cost of production vis-à-vis its visibility. In Chennai and Hyderabad, on the other hand, outdoors are very effective,” he says. Same is the case with Delhi, where hoardings are practically non-existent. Mirchandani stresses on the fact that outdoor spaces should be taken up in only those areas where their visibility is ensured. “Weekender is essentially a youth brand and we make sure that we are seen around colleges and popular youth hangouts,” he says.
With none of the above-mentioned brands planning a TVC in the near future, it seems outdoors, though only taking up a mere 10-15 per cent of the ad spends of most brands, is heading for a bigger slice.