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Rewind 2012: A year when OOH trod ‘October Road’

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Rewind 2012: A year when OOH trod ‘October Road’

While we were tuned to October Road, the American drama series, we realised that Nick Garrett, the lead character of the show, was in a tricky situation as many outdoor players are today – static and dull. Garrett had to go back to his roots to rejuvenate his creative side just like the outdoor advertising industry needs a refreshing dose of work.

In an attempt to paint a situation quite close to reality, yet dramatic, exchange4media has picked up some of October Road’s classic episode tittles to highlight why we feel that Garrett’s situation can encapsulate what the outdoor industry has been going through in the last 12 months...

Once around the block…
Unlike 2011, when 76 percent of out of home (OOH) media was consumed by four industry sectors – which is largely a disproportionate skew – 2012 saw immense contribution from other industries to utilise the benefits of OOH such as auto, retail, white goods and real estate.

Although revenues from telecom had dipped in first half (H1) 2012, the category picked up with the new tablets and laptops that were launched in the market, especially in the festive season of second half (H2) 2012. FMCG also bounced back with 14 per cent growth in the sector, contributing significantly to outdoor this year in comparison to 2011. Considering the local presence and strategic importance of outdoor media, it is also best suited for local brands, which also fairly represented in the overall spends and are likely to be the future – food and beverage, education, small format retail and jewelry.

The year 2012 has been an uncertain year for the Indian outdoor industry, which had its share of crests and troughs. Outdoor advertising industry started on a positive note between January and March. However, clients started to take a cautious approach and held their budgets and thus, outdoor advertising suffered during months from July to September. However, the spends started picking up from September onwards. The positive momentum has continued post September as advertisers have released the budgets to drive demand.

The fine art of surfacing…
In the budget for 2012-13, the then Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee announced that ‘selling of space or time slots for advertisements other than advertisements broadcast by radio or television’ will come in negative list and will be exempt from 12 per cent service tax’. According to industry experts, this service tax exemption on advertising on media platforms, excluding TV and radio, could result in availability of up to Rs 1,500 crore more to advertisers for spending on campaigns on platforms such as outdoors and others.

When this decision was announced, there was lot of confusion among the stakeholders of the industry but it was worked out in coordination with agencies and India Outdoor Advertising Association (IOAA) and also amongst agencies. Industry experts are of opinion that they haven’t witnessed such camaraderie over an issue within the industry in the recent past. But the industry hasn’t got advantage of this hit, as it was shadowed by the European crash. With the overall world economy limping, clients cut their advertising spends and outdoor also was not spared.

Another remarkable positive development that dawned upon the outdoor industry was MRUC’s announcement of India Outdoor Survey (IOS) next edition. The industry believes that this will be one of the most important milestones of the outdoor industry. Along with IOS, IOAA announcement of ADEX as well as inventory availability information online will help build the confidence in brand and media managers to endorse and help increase use of OOH not as residual media, but planned media.

The resurgence of media owner-led solution business has been another noticeable industrial move. All major media owners are now focusing on direct clients and this is going to be a milestone for the future of OOH agencies, believe some experts. Unscrupulous agencies and unsolicited practices in the industry might find it difficult to continue. With this, another significance that can be considered as a highlight of 2012 is the emerging consciousness amongst media owners to put a brake on unmindful quoting in tenders. Amritsar, Guwahati Airport tenders are simple example, where no one participated when reserve price was kept very ambitious.

Hat? No Hat?
It is a fact that there are more people ‘out and about’ than ever before -- more cars per household, longer distances travelled and longer times outside. More red lights, more traffic jams and thus more idle time to look around at billboards. In 2012, various brand categories have gone out innovating at these various levels of outdoor media formats. Agencies have moved from mere cut-outs to showing some interesting branding in the outdoors.

McCann Worldgroup India won for its three-entry campaign for Western Union in the Outdoor Lions category of the Cannes Lions 2012, DDB MudraMax rolled out attractive outdoor displays for Volkswagen, Bates executed smart campaigns for Vodafone in smaller towns; likewise many other emerging agencies tried putting on their thinking caps and were able to develop eye catching outdoor displays.

Dancing days are here again…
The upswing in the spend by brands in retail communications brought cheers to OOH industry. With Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in retail getting nod from the house, there will be a spurt in the retail business spend in advertising. Therefore, outdoor will also get share of the advertising pie, as the media is best suited for retail business. This factor will also help retail communication business and specialised shopper marketing agencies to grow roots in Indian markets.

The trend is moving beyond the traditional arterial roads to a more demographically targeted destination based planning that is mapped with the target group movement. With increasing working population and changing lifestyle, people are spending more time outdoor, approximately nine hours, leading to exponential growth of the transit medium.

This media delivers greater frequency cost effectively, making it attractive to planners. Lastly, business going beyond borders with cheaper air travel has meant more avenues for targeting the upwardly mobile audience on the go. Local transit media is also welcoming branding and interactiveness around communication exercises.

Interactive screens, LED panels, etc. coming up at malls and multiplexes – coined as retail – is also adding another dimension to OOH communication, which is still at a very nascent stage, to make its presence felt in the overall OOH ADEX pie. However, they hold immense potential in terms of customer involvement, interactivity and last mile conversion in the time to come.

If the industry builds on the momentum, makes strategic investments and stays committed to improving trade practices, OOH in India will quickly become a ‘must-have’ for global advertisers and it will reinforce the belief of ‘a must investment medium’ for all local brand categories.

(The feature is complied with inputs by Sanjay Pareek, President, Percept Out-Of-Home; Mandeep Malhotra, President and Head, DDB Mudra Max – OOH; Nabendu Bhattacharyya, Founder and Managing Director, Milestone Brandcom; Atul Shrivastava, Chief Operating Officer , Laqshya Media; Sunder Hemrajani, Managing Director, Times Innovative Media; and Abhijeet Sengupta, Chief Executive Office, Outdoor Advertising Professionals.)

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