With OOH you can be innovative, not too creative: Amar Thomas

Amar Thomas, Country Manager, BlackBerry India, shares the secret to Z3's impactful OOH campaign

e4m by Abhinn Shreshtha
Updated: Aug 26, 2014 8:33 AM
With OOH you can be innovative, not too creative: Amar Thomas

BlackBerry has been in the news, thanks to the promotional activities around Z3, its new flagship smartphone that has been well received by the Indian consumer. We spoke to Amar Thomas, Country Marketing Manager, about the innovative OOH campaign designed to launch the product.

You integrated Twitter feeds on some of your OOH hoardings. Tell us something about it.

This was a teaser campaign that was run for six days prior to the main campaign. We asked people on Twitter how far they would go to get a Z3. Every day a winning tweet was  put up on the outdoor hoardings. The winners also formed a jigsaw over six days. It did generate curiosity.

What was the plan behind the main OOH campaign?
The OOH campaign to promote the Z3 ran for 45 days in five cities—Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. We concentrated on some key features of the phone and communicated these to the people. The location and time of the message was also decided beforehand. For example, when you are driving home from work in the night, your main concern is the battery life, so we had hoardings talking about the long battery life of the Z3. Similarly, on roads leading to multiplexes, the messaging focussed on ‘Hinglish’ and how it easy to type it on the Z3. The messaging cuts to the chase.

Was social media integrated with the main OOH campaign too?
No, but we have integrated radio. Like the OOH campaign, radio spots talking about the battery life ran only during the evening or night. The idea again is to reinforce the same thing through different mediums. Similarly, we had spots featuring the Priority Hub feature during the mornings when people travel to work. Apart from this, there were also on-ground activations in 300 colleges and corporate parks. We sponsored Technofiesta, which is a student event held by Flipkart.

What is the most important thing when it comes to OOH campaigns?
Location and the kind of media you use. Today, OOH has evolved beyond billboards. There are just so many opportunities available, so you need to be able to think about what kind of product you want to promote. For example, the Z3 is a mass market phone, so we went with the plain vanilla hoardings. If we had to promote a more exclusive product, we might have  gone with airport billboards. So, we think about the kind of media we should get to fit the product perfectly.

The locations too had been carefully thought out. The sites we use are different from that of our competition. We will also look at having them (the sites) closer to BlackBerry stores in the cities where they are situated. It becomes convenient for the customer and also supports the stores.

How much of your marketing budgets go into OOH?
About 30 per cent.

How do you measure the efficacy of your OOH campaign?
There is no scientific tool, but market response is a good measure. The moment people start talking about the kind of ads that are placed, rather than how many, it gives you an idea that they are having an impact.

Speaking of creativity, how important do you think it is?
With OOH, you get, maybe, two seconds to catch the consumer’s attention. So you can get innovative, but not too creative. You could have an interesting shape which catches the eye but if you are going to keep a lot of copy, it will be too ambitious to expect someone to stop and read it. We try to keep our communication clean and just focus on what we want to say. We also keep the size of the hoardings large. If you see our sites, they are all big and eye-catching.

What do you think is needed in the OOH industry to make things easier for marketers?
There is still a lacuna in some cities. For example, in Delhi there is very little OOH space, except for the airport. It’s the same with Chandigarh. There has to be a way of addressing these challenges. Having said this, there is still a lot of stuff happening. For example, transit media has come a long way. Then you have train wrap-ups, radio cabs, etc. as new options. The ability of the brand to utilise available media is what will distinguish brands. Just lighting up your site or putting blinkers on it is like creating a toy.

Speaking of new options, what are your thoughts on the Mumbai Metro?
They need to re-look at the prices. The current pricing doesn’t help. A lot of it is also over-head. So if I do a train wrap it will not be at eye-level. The DMRC and Delhi Airport metro are much better options but it is still a very new medium so I will give them some time.

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