Blending OOH & Experiential will generate the wow factor for brands during Unlock: Experts

OOH industry leaders share how brands can leverage from the combination of OOH & experiential marketing and the activations they curated during the lockdown

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Published: Aug 17, 2020 9:00 AM  | 7 min read
Experiential Marketing and OOH

The out of home (OOH) ecosystem is largely dependent on ad inventory that relies on high footfall. But the COVID-19 global pandemic put a dent on the medium as there was zero visibility till June 2020. Looking for solutions, most OOH agencies became more hyperlocal in their approach by setting base and conducting brand activations at residential societies and supermarkets. And once domestic flights resumed in the last week of May 2020, the scope for brand activations for OOH and experiential expanded. Keeping the core theme of safety-first in mind, these brands integrated their brand message along with spreading the message of staying safe. These activations allowed the consumer to have a first-hand experience of the product or service, thereby giving them a higher level of brand recognition.

The pandemic might have hit large experiential brand activations and OOH advertising, but that didn’t stop brands and OOH agencies from curating social responsibility messages. From Tata Cha providing refreshing tea to the elderly people in Bangalore to Times OOH along with Naturals providing hand sanitizers at airports across Coimbatore and Trichy, all leveraged the inventories available to them creatively.
e4m spoke to OOH leaders who initiated and conceptualised experiential brand activations amidst the lockdown and asked them about activations OOH agencies can work towards during this unlocking stage.

Experiential OOH activations during COVID

Sharing about the brand activations Laqshya Media Group has carried out, CEO Atul Shrivastava said, “The #S campaign has been conceptualized by Laqshya Media Group, as part of BharatPe’s ‘Ek Bharat Ek QR’ campaign. It was aimed to spread awareness of social distancing and the use of hand sanitizers. ‘#S’ stands for staying safe during COVID. The campaign, carried out in Delhi/NCR, encouraged shopkeepers and customers to be cautious and stay safe during the Unlock 3.0 phase by following precautionary measures like sanitizing hands and wearing a mask.
A structure of #S in the Indian tri-colour with sanitizer dispensers attached to it was created for the campaign. They were installed outside vulnerable points like ATM, shopping complexes, markets, milk booths, and local Kirana stores. Shopkeepers, customers, and security personnel were encouraged to sanitize their hands, to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. These installations were put up in a total of 35 market areas in and around Delhi/NCR. Free masks were also distributed at all these locations.”

Shrivastava added, “Laqshya Media Group has been active since the early days of the crisis when we provided sanitizers to the Mumbai Police. Now with India slowly opening up, it is very important to be more careful than ever before and use hand sanitizers and masks, especially for essential workers.”
After the government resumed domestic flight operations, Times OOH partnered with Naturals, a leading salon chain that came forward to sponsor hand sanitizers at two airports, thereby participating in a larger cause and also seamlessly merging with the need of passengers and the airport. Spread across 20 locations in Coimbatore and 15 in Trichy Airport, the sanitizing units emphasize the importance of hand sanitization and reinstate safe travel practices.

Transit audio OOH is an impactful brand solution, especially in a regional marketplace. Vritti iMedia is one such advertising agency that works towards conceptualizing effective OOH advertising for rural markets. During the lockdown period, Vritti iMedia conceptualized two experiential brand activations. One was the detergent brand Fena. For Fena, they had a sales activation where they went to residential societies and spread awareness directly to the end-user. The brand activation was done in Noida, Ghaziabad, Lucknow, and Kanpur. The brand activation ran for a month.

Vritti iMedia’s second brand activation was Crop Insurance for farmers. Talking about this activation, Rajesh Radhakrishnan, Founder & Director, says, “For this, we did van brand activations of 35 vans. The idea was to drive awareness and educate farmers on crop insurance for Agricultural Insurance Corporation in rural markets of Rajasthan. This activation was done all through May and June 2020. With social distancing, we tried to educate the rural consumers about insurance claims.”

Now that we have reached the unlocking stage, how can brand actions be structured to gain consumer attention keeping social distancing norms and safety at the core?
Shrivastava remarked, “In the post-pandemic world, brand and storytelling has to take on a new hybrid experiential format. The lack of human interaction has to be substituted with user interfaces and newer experiences. Also, post lockdown, there will be social distancing the world over, which will make normal large events impossible to conduct. We will have micro-exclusive on-ground events. Destination events will be restricted to venues within a radius of 100-200 km. More emphasis will be given to local venues. The trend will be a mixture of on-ground and virtual events. Existing live events will have to be reimagined in the digital formats.”

Shrivastava adds, “Knowledge and well-being sessions for employees and customers will be important. Focus has to be on content innovation. Augmented reality presentations, digital interactivity, and gamification will help brands create memorable and engaging experiences.”
Times OOH says that they are working closely with the airport authorities to understand the new paradigms and innovating to introduce some new exciting opportunities for brands to participate in the new passenger journeys and needs.

Sharing more about the airport inventories and brand opportunities, Times OOH commented, “An entertainment zone brought to you by a leading OTT platform showcasing latest releases, an e-insurance kiosk for availing insurance on the go, sanitization utilities at airports that can be sponsored and have branding space, a contactless automobile experience lounge using the VR technology are a few areas where we see new opportunities for brands at airports. Then there are media being explored in zones that are witnessing heavy traffic density due to new protocols like the check-in glass branding where passengers queue up, floor markers at strategic points like security check where there is need for social distancing as well as high traffic movement and waiting time or branding on seats at boarding gates where distancing has to be adhered to. By advertising on these inventories, brands can seamlessly merge with the airport environment at the same time support a public cause.”

Times OOH is also working closely with metro stations to launch contactless PPE vending machines which are need of the hour and that will also feature a branding space for advertisers.
A spokesperson from Times OOH, said, “We have spent a lot of time in evaluating the new passenger paths and have developed hosts of new product offerings that will excite the advertisers and offer them interesting solutions. These products are backed by extensive passenger research and understanding of passenger movement using advanced technology. Also, we have identified new sectors and companies on the basis of change in the trend of the consumers that are likely to strive in the new post COVID world. These are based on extensive research done by our internal product teams as well as third party trends.”

Upinder Singh, Project Director, Edge1 Outdoor Media Management Software, sharing his perspective, says, “OOH is certainly not dead and stretches far beyond the traditional, dull billboards for fast food joints that you see while on road. When paired with experiential marketing, the duo is diverse, powerful, and effective across a broad range of applications and for a wide variety of industries.”

Singh remarks, “By blending the world of experiential marketing and OOH, brands can generate a ‘wow’ factor. It allows consumers to interact with the brand on a personal level and it will create a lasting experience for the user, especially post lockdown when the consumers are not on road and brands have to loosen their hold on them.”
“Through the integration of OOH and experiential marketing, brands can target specific demographics in specific places at specific times. Allowing consumers to play around and have fun with the brand is essential to its success. If we think of fun ways to deliver the brand objective to the consumer, we’re likely going to get even more interaction if the campaign is shared on social media.”

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