Christmas-New Year season fails to bring cheer to flood-hit Kerala OOH industry

Industry players say almost 30-80 per cent billboards in Kerala are still vacant

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: Jan 3, 2019 8:20 AM

In 2018, Kerala witnessed one of the worst floods in its history. The disaster, which claimed lives of more than 400 people, has also affected the state’s economy adversely. Four months have passed since the deluge, but the state is yet to fully overcome.

Most of the sectors in the state, including the OOH industry, have suffered heavy financial losses. According to industry experts, the OOH industry suffered a loss of almost Rs 60 crore between July and August. As the Onam season, which accounts for a major chunk of business and revenue in the state, was washed out due to the floods, major OOH players were pinning their hopes on the Christmas-New Year season. But no major improvement in the scenario has been visible, and according to market experts, almost 30-80 per cent billboards in Kerala are still vacant. 

Chithra Prakash of Chitra Painters, one of the oldest OOH players in Kerala, says, “The scenario hasn’t changed post floods. Around 25-30 per cent billboards are still vacant, and we are yet to recover from the losses. Textile, jewellery, white goods and automobile players used to invest heavily during the festive season. But there has been a huge decline and now we majorly bank upon the film advertisements.” 

Another industry player, who did not wish to be named, said, “Almost 30-80 per cent billboards in Kerala are vacant and we are incurring huge losses. Money should start flowing in the market. The January-March period is going to be tough and hopefully things will start changing post that.” 

According to Krishna Kumar, Consultant at Kerala Vision Channel Broadcasting, the OOH business this year is 40 per cent less than what it was last year. “OOH business in Kerala is down by more than 40 per cent compared to the last financial year. The flood had a direct impact on 10 per cent of our population, but it has impacted more than 70 per cent of the overall business of Kerala.” 

According to some market experts, the Sabarimala temple issue about women’s entry in the shrine too has an indirect negative impact on the business. The Mandala Pooja and Makaravilakku Day which occur during December-January months attract millions of pilgrims to the state. But the issue, which is snowballing into a major controversy, has given an impression to the outsiders that a riot is happening in the state and due to this the state has failed to attract the usual number of pilgrims this year. 

“There used to be huge number of bookings during the Sabarimala season from advertisers for spots on the way to temples in Palakkad, Kasargode, Kanya Kumari and Parassala. There has been a dip in the flow of pilgrims this year and due to that a fall of 10-15 per cent in the business has occurred as compared to last year,” said Prakash.

K Vijayakumar, President, Kerala Advertising Industries Association, “The OOH industry has not got back on its feet yet. Compared to last year, only 10 per cent business has happened during the festival season this year. The issue didn’t begin with the floods. There were issues since de-monetization and the floods just added to it. Hope the 2019 Lok Sabha polls will bring in some economical benefits to the industry.” 

“Ban on flex and plastic materials have also started affecting the OOH business. But the overall market is improving very slowly. Meanwhile, it is high time for the Kerala market to look out for various digital innovations in the OOH sector,” added Krishan Kumar. 

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