‘Modi govt using OOH as a key mode to spread the word’ 

Industry experts share their insights on what led to the jump in spends by the government in the OOH medium

e4m by Anjali Thakur
Published: Jul 10, 2019 8:28 AM  | 4 min read
Outdoor advertising

The spends on OOH advertising by the Union government have gone up ever since the Narendra Modi government came into power at the Centre, a latest report released by MIB minister Prakash Javedkar has revealed.       

As per the report, the government spent Rs 1195.94 crore on advertising in fiscal year 2018-19. Providing a break-up, Javadekar said Rs 235.33 crore was spent on outdoor publicity alone in 2018-19. And a comparison with the OOH publicity expenditure during the Manmohan Singh-led government shows there has been a drastic change in the figures. There has been a significant jump from fiscal year 2013-14 when the UPA government spent Rs 10.28 crore on outdoor publicity. 

After the Modi government came into power, expenditure on outdoor publicity went up from Rs 81.27 crore in 2014-15, to Rs 118.51 crore in 2015-16, Rs 186.59 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 208.55 crore in 2017-18. 

We spoke to experts from the industry to understand what changed in the OOH scenario in these five years and what led to spends shooting up on the platform.

A highly-placed source in the industry shared with us that the OOH industry has grown between 8 to 15 per cent in the last 5 years and the main growth drivers have been big ticket yearly events like the IPL and Kumbh. “In an election year, there is a jump of 3 to 4 per cent which is reflected in the current year’s growth figures (15 per cent) but the unprecedented jump on government spending has nothing to do with the industry growth factors but due to difference in media strategy and building a larger than life image by parties.” 

Pawan Bansal, COO, Jagran Engage said, “I don't know the sanctity of these figures, but yes the Modi government advertises the welfare schemes of various ministries through OOH since they believe that the reach of OOH is significant and a good medium for communication. OOH has a very significant outlay in the DAVP (Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity) media mix and has been a favoured medium in the Modi era.”

According to Aman Nanda, Chief Strategy Officer, Times OOH, the two governments are bound to have different marketing strategies but Nanda believes that other factors are also at play. “In the last 5 years, the OOH marketplace has become more legalised and the formats have increased. Thus, it can be utilised better. For example, many cities have seen the development of metro rail infrastructure in the last 5 years, a medium that the masses use extensively. This year, we had 84 million first-time voters; youngsters who regularly use this mode to commute. It is important for the government to continually spend in OOH because this keeps the target group aware about their initiatives. Advertising at the airports has an added benefit, as it targets the key decision makers and influencers and helps portray a good, positive image of the country. This promotes investment and boosts tourism.”

OOH always attracts eyeballs when used in conjunction with the traditional media and can go a long way in promoting a brand/product, said Karan Bhardwaj, MD and CEO, Kryp Media. “BJP had a well thought advertising campaign and a clear brand proposition while promoting ‘Brand Modi’, which others lacked due to poor leadership and absence of long-term vision. As a result, the spends on OOH along with other traditional and digital media made perfect sense to achieve the extra edge. In short, it was the media strategy to spend on OOH.”  

Anup Sharma, an independent political campaign strategist and mentor at The Lentils Institute, shared some insights about what must have been the BJP’s key strategy for OOH. The integrated marketing communication played a major role, he said. “There is no doubt that this government realised the power of integrated marketing communications. Nowadays, elections are fought on mobile phones. People have got used to digital technology and the exposure has been beyond traditional media that includes newspaper and TV. In the last five years, this government realised digital integrated marketing communication, and they used it extensively since it is how the response rates for a message goes up when an increasing number of people are getting exposed to different touch points.”  

Sharma further said that because people are always on the move this government makes use of all the OOH platforms - be it traditional billboards, transit vehicles, metro services, government offices, hospitals etc. “They were present everywhere. It is hard-to-miss such kind of publicity,” he said.

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