Muthoot Finance – Turbocharging OOH from Regional to National
By Bhawana Anand - December 23, 2019
Abhinav Iyer, GM Marketing & Strategy, The Muthoot Group talks about the emergence of impactful iconic outdoor advertising formats along with tapping regional carnivals to have a contextual branding
The Muthoot Group is a veteran OOH loyalist brand with a clear belief that OOH presence is an essential tool of communication to serve the marketing needs of their over 5,000 branches that serve more than 2 lakh customers each day. The brand has always been heavy on regional branding with the employment of the classic formats. However, with their growing marketing needs and altering outdoor landscape, the brand is also moving towards leveraging modernised formats with high impact and prominence. Calling both regional and national presence of an equal importance, Abhinav Iyer, GM Marketing & Strategy, The Muthoot Group explains, “We have started making this shift in about last two years wherein we have started looking at OOH with a different lens altogether. We are a corporate brand spanned across India, hence having a regional as well as national presence through OOH medium is important for us. I don’t think one is at the cost of the other, so our Regional Marketing Heads still plan regional branding initiatives. In parallel, from our Corporate Office at Delhi, our objective is always to select national-level impactful properties”.
Metro Station Branding
The brand has built a long-term eye-catching presence at the Greater Kailash Metro Station in Delhi by acquiring Semi-Naming Rights for the station. The selection of the particular station has come as a strategic move to serve the business need as well as visibility necessary for the brand in the national capital. “The objective was to figuratively own this area around Greater Kailash and make it look like a Muthoot Den, which is also home to our Corporate Office, and quite a few branches, Regional Office, etc. On a lighter note, it is a topping on the cake when the GK Metro Station emerges as a popular starting point for discussions during meetings with our new partners and visitors who come to our Corporate Office and find the branded metro station structure quite impressively done,” Iyer explains.
“From a business perspective too, South Delhi is a prominent part of the city and has many Muthoot Finance Branches, hence it gives us both business impact and widespread visibility. It was also important from the flowing traffic aspect as the GK metro station is situated on a significant arterial route which connects prominent parts of the city. Therefore, our prime focus was to take a station which caters high on vehicular traffic around it too,” Iyer adds.
“While branding the different elements of the station, we have tried to go a few steps ahead and include some unique aspects of the brand such as the family business’ legacy of 800 years, presence of 20 diversified business divisions, presence of over 5,000 branches pan-India, serving over 2 lakh customers every day, etc. The branding communicates the core of the business and its various divisions through PSD doors and on other formats which keeps changing periodically to convey newer services and offerings. Also, the Group’s Precious Metals division which sells gold and silver coins and pendants has been promoted through a motorised and rotational display unit of the Special Edition of Muthoot-CSK Gold Coin in the station’s main ticket concourse.”
When it comes to maintenance, the same is ensured by their partners i.e. Pioneer Publicity that the station is in best condition throughout the year. “Work done by our Metro station partner Mr Deepak Vasudeva from Pioneer Publicity has been commendable and their teams have been very involved all through,” says Iyer.
Interestingly, the brand is now extending this successful concept of semi-naming rights to Chennai where the brand is creating a strategic branding presence with one of the prominent stations on Chennai Metro network, expected to be completed soon. “We are now on a marketing-led growth journey, trying to do new things in a more organised, structured and large-scale fashion,” comments Iyer.
The Kumbh Initiative
Merging promotional activities with relevant context is their brand mantra where Iyer finds outdoor medium is a prefect contextual platform to connect with the audience on purpose. He recalls their Prayagraj Kumbh Mela 2019 experiential initiative wherein the brand had created a technology enabled, free-locker facility named ‘Muthoot Vishwas Ki Tijori’ for pilgrims converging at Prayag for the holy dip. It was observed that most devotees had to leave their personal valuables, belongings unattended at the river bank before entering into the river for their dip. According to Iyer, Kumbh Mela - biggest human congregation, which witnessed over 24 crore people earlier this year, was an essential place to be present for the brand and connect with masses from all walks of life and across the nation. The audience profile attending Kumbh was very similar to Muthoot’s customer profile and hence too there was a strong reason for the brand to be present. The 45-day Vishwas Ki Tijori initiative was extensively appreciated by the pilgrims, Kumbh authorities, media and others. It has also won many industry awards.
Another strategic and up-close platform for branding used by Muthoot is the Pune Cricket Stadium branding where the brand converted the stadium into Muthoot CSK Stadium to promote their association with one of IPL’s top performing teams the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) led by legendary Indian cricketer MS Dhoni. “In India, cricket is a religion and partnership with CSK offered us a very strong context considering our widespread presence in southern India, particularly Tamil Nadu where we have nearly 900 branches. While executing stadium branding, we always endeavoured to strike the right balance between brand presence and prominence to the team, players, franchise and the league. Our objective was to reinforce our association with CSK and hence the creatives were a good mix of player imagery in CSK’s outfit and the brand’s overarching theme of “Life Mein Aagey Badhiye” which beautifully resonated with the mood of the game of moving ahead and being victorious,” says Iyer.
Need for Measurability & Management Support
Highlighting the essence of such highly targeted avenues, Iyer states, “Outdoor is a prominent medium meant to generate effective brand recall and healthy return on investments. However, we have always tried to identify and leverage such potent mediums like Greater Kailash Metro Station, Kumbh Mela, Cricket Stadium, etc., wherein highly passionate, involved or relevant TG with the right frame of mind are getting exposed to the brand’s messaging”.
“The branding objective was not just to promote the brand name but also its various attributes by weaving a brand story and its journey. Conscious efforts have also been made to subtly yet smartly leverage our brand associations with our Brand Ambassador Shri Amitabh Bachchan Ji and Chennai Super Kings. We have tried to leverage every small opportunity in the best possible way,” adds Iyer. Carrying forward the organisation’s culture of ensuring investments are constantly measured and quantified before redeployment, Iyer shares, “We firmly believe that everywhere we invest, returns are measured. We have internal benchmarks and a process of reinvestment led by business impact created.”
While accrediting his entire team for the journey that the brand has traversed, Iyer particularly mentions the support extended by the Management, Board of Directors and particularly by the Group’s Deputy Managing Director Alexander George Muthoot, saying, “His unflinching support has always pushed the teams to strive for more and set new benchmarks by exploring newer opportunities for the brand. His special interest in marketing encourages us to try new things and think out of the box.”
While the brand has immense faith in the medium, Iyer states that there are challenges like measurability of impact in the OOH industry. “But I am glad that some work is happening by leading management consultants who are doing some work in this area by developing specialised tools for the OOH industry. It is good to see that some sort of science is being introduced which would change the perception of this industry to a great extent,” Iyer articulates.
“Another challenge faced by the brand are the unethical practices adopted by some players which impacts credibility. However, the Group’s strong audit teams and a dedicated team of 1,200+ auditors do a great job in plugging gaps and identifying such malpractices,” sums up Iyer.