South OOH industry in doldrums; hopes pinned on Hyderabad, Chennai to drive spends

Kerala Floods and BBMP ban on hoardings are playing spoilsport for South OOH industry this Diwali

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: Oct 29, 2018 8:31 AM
bbmp ban and floods

The festive spirit has set in all across India and the media industry is getting busier day by day be it TV programming, increased ad spends and even new campaigns just to coincide with the season’s joyous mood. But, the same can’t be said about the South OOH industry. Hindrances faced by them started with Onam when Kerala was distressed due to floods and now comes the recent ban of hoardings in Bangalore. 

“For us this Diwali period is lull and compared to last year, there is a significant downturn. Though we are seeing some very positive consumer sentiments elsewhere, which is translating to good revenues, South has suffered overall and, this festive season is not good for us and I am sure it is the same for others too,” said Naresh Bhandari, COO, OMI, the OOH agency arm of Laqshya Media Group.


Double whammy: Kerala floods and BBMP bylaw      

The OOH industry in Kerala has been adversely affected by the floods, which wreaked havoc across the state. Just in the months of July-August alone the state’s OOH industry suffered a loss of almost Rs 60 crore.  According to experts, the industry is estimated to have incurred a loss of Rs 200 crore overall as it is taking a few months now for the business to be back on track completely.

“The market is bad and around 45% of the inventories are vacant this Diwali season, this is because the advertisers have a perception that Kerala is totally devastated after the floods. We are now on revive-mode,” said Chithra Prakash of Chitra Painters, an OOH player based in Kerala.

The OOH players in Kerala are hopeful that with Christmas season approaching and the state of Kerala getting back to normalcy, they can bring down, if not completely obliterate, the losses by getting back to business as soon as possible.

Coming to Bangalore, the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) council has approved a new draft advertising policy titled ‘BBMP Outdoor Signage and Public Messaging, 2018’ that calls for a ban on all illegal commercial billboards and hoardings in the city. The proposed advertisement policy seeks to benefit advertisers using bus shelters, gantries and skywalks by banning all other sorts of outdoor advertising.

The ban has affected all of us as the move came in during the onset of festive season which would have otherwise contributed us well. The matter is still in court and we aren’t very clear on the way forward,” said Bhandari.


Lukewarm hopes

Diwali is a time of cheer everywhere in South but it’s even more prominent in Bangalore due to the cosmopolitan crowd. The recent BBMP ban has hampered the festive spending which is typically around 30-40% of most of the brand’s annual budget. During Onam, Kerala gets high on brand visibility and spends, which unfortunately wasn’t great this year because of floods. So, it is now Hyderabad and Chennai that would be hopefully driving spends of OOH in South India this Diwali.

Speaking about expectations this Diwali season, Bhandari said,Our expectations aren’t high because Bangalore contributes the maximum to South revenues and this move by BBMP has hit the South OOH Industry at large. Onam, which is another big occasion, turned sour because of the floods. Chennai with media assets restricted to street furniture would not be very successful to add a fortune to the total South industry pie. Hyderabad seems to be in action but, not sure how would it compensate the losses faced by Bangalore and Kerala. So, overall, our expectations are low.”

Our festive specific strategy is to be visible at all key shopping hubs for our retail brands and we also have created customized festive creatives for their OOH campaigns. We have been doing consumer experiential festive campaigns at the Hyderabad Airport too,” said Bhandari, speaking on festive strategies given the double whammy of floods and BBMP ban. 



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