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‘Digital OOH is not consumer engagement, but consumer entrapment’

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‘Digital OOH is not consumer engagement, but consumer entrapment’

Just as television jingles do not automatically become television ads, television ads are not qualified to be shown in out-of-home avenues like malls and multiplexes, which are largely audio neutral. Indian advertisers or ad agencies don’t seem to understand the difference yet. Future Media organised an evening to address this on May 19 in Mumbai to focus on the nuances of in-store advertising.

Partho Dasgupta, CEO, Future Media, set the tone for the evening by speaking on some of the key problems that the medium is seeing where ads specific to the OOH space were not created, which needed audio neutral spots. KV Sridhar (better known as Pops), NCD, Leo Burnett, took the floor from there and gave some observations on how he thought this medium could be delved it. Sridhar, who has seen different ages of media and the advertising industry evolve with that, took the audience through the pre-cable and satellite age on television to today, when the buzzword is interactivity.

Creative ideas and technology is like a dumb-dumb bullet

Sridhar said, “It took us 15 years to stop doing radio advertisements on television. Until 5-6 years back, we did very verbose advertising. We are a very audio-led medium, we love to talk, we love music, but still commercials aren’t written, they are shown. It took a lot of time for a lot of us to understand that. How you understand a medium also depends on how you see something, understand it and learn. It has been long since we understood what one does in digital, what you think of it, and how best can you understand it.”

He wondered whether anyone in the world understood the in-store medium, and asked where you are doing in-store advertising, is there any need to showcase all variants of the same brand? “It makes no sense to show the variant when they are on the shelf. The second point is that you need to understand the purchase cycle and see where interactivity can be added. More can be given out if you have touch and feel to the brand,” Sridhar noted.

According to him, there were enough examples about how people were the using the medium for activation and were using technology to support that. “Creative ideas and technology together is like a dumb-dumb bullet, there is no way you can go wrong,” he added.

Sridhar stressed that the medium had to be used strategically, with the right kind of interactivity. He cautioned that being lazy and not paying retail advertising its due attention would give the client lesser than his money’s worth. If silent movies can make sense, surely televised advertising that doesn’t have the advantage of audio can make sense too.

Karl Gomes, ECD – Digital, Arc Worldwide, took the audience through various examples where technology had been used to create engaging ideas for the digital medium. He said that the measurement aspect about the medium, which could show the return on investments, was one of the biggest advantages for the medium. “Imagine two screens talking to each other, or two people talking to billboards – that can create an impact,” he said. Gomes also spoke about moving images across screens done for Rocky Balboa, which he explained was just a simple loop played at a certain timing to create a visual effect.

He also mentioned the Fido example of communication between two screens, Nokia touch billboards and Innovations done by JCDecaux to establish that the potential of the medium was immense.

The move to Consumer Entrapment

Hindustan Unilever’s Rahul Welde took the dais next and explained that the sheer fact that the medium converted thought into purchase made the medium any marketer’s delight, and this was one reason why the medium would grow in the future. He presented a few other thoughts on the medium that challenged the basic structure of working.

According to Welde, “This medium is not suitable for consumer engagement – it is too brief for that. I would like to believe that the medium is about consumer entrapment and enticement. Second, the conventional way of advertising will not work for this medium at all. The cycle that we are in right now is too large. Is there a process through which we can brief the agency and get the commercial the next day? Is this doable? I don’t know. But I think the concept of the conventional model wouldn’t work. Unlike the good old model, here I can give the feedback tomorrow, which means if the in-store media is not paying, we would want the creative to change the next day.”

The third challenge was how to produce the ads. Welde was of the opinion that with the way the medium was growing it wasn’t far when different stores could do with a store specific creatives. Also, this had to be done at a cost that was manageable. “It requires a fundamental shift in the model,” he said.

Vishakha Singh, Director, MarCom, Future Media, shared client case studies of some of the work done by Future Media, with the results showing how different initiatives led to different impact on sales. She took the audience through some of the work done for Tata Salt, Dove Hair Wash, Pajero and Lakme.

Juju Basu, NCD, Saatchi & Saatchi, took the audience through some of the dos and don’ts for in-store advertising. He advised that the broad objective was to be able to make a memorable ad. The route could be to use the most arresting images; forget sounds and dialogues; shorten the ad as much as possible to adapt to a 10-second attention span; use sublime branding; and finally, if there were a few creative ideas, be sure to choose the right one.

He said, “If you have a poster that moves, then it opens another paradigm altogether. What I find more intriguing is that this allows undivided consumer attention if you have caught them at the right moment. Retail doesn’t cost that much more; if giving it its due attention can get the right thing for the client, then why not.”

“I’d like to end by saying that you are not compromising on a TVC to make a POP, you are making a moving poster, and the next time you get a brief, this may be a better way of looking at it,” was Basu’s signoff statement.

From one 360-degree idea, to 360 one-degree ideas

For Craig Mapleston, General Manager, Bates 141 Singapore, advertising was not just engaging behaviour, but “content in context”. He took the audience through various levels of communication that ranged from out-of-store to in-store and retail messages on-demand. He said, “Advertising has gone through many evolutions and revolutions to Advertising 3.0, which introduces an element of interaction.”

He explained that this was seen more in the digital age, where consumer played a role in communication and was part of the creation of that content. He further said that today there were many more channels and touch-points to reach the consumers and that different people were receptive to different touch-points. In all, instead of the creation of one 360-degree campaign, the move was to create 360 one-degree campaigns. “When we look at one 360-degree campaign, we are looking at channels, but when we are looking at 360 one-degree campaigns, the communications take consumers on a journey,” Mapleston said. He also spoke on communication generating interaction and the role of different touch-points to finally get the consumer in-store to covert into a purchase.

Mapleston further took the audience through what worked and what didn’t, citing various examples where he discussed the ‘Reactrix’, which is a projection of digital images, and other campaigns done by Nokia, Sony Bravia, etc., where offline media had converged with digital media.

The evening also marked the honouring of Future TV’s ‘Gone in 30 seconds’ film competition. The competition was launched in April 2008 with the purpose of inviting films that could be aired on Future TV. The competition had seen over 150 entries and five winners were declared. Bates David Enterprise CEO Subhash Kamath and Rahul Welde gave away the awards to the winners.


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