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‘Invest quality time for a better future’

By Bhawana Anand - May 08, 2020

Nabendu Bhattacharyya, CEO & MD, Milestone Brandcom talks about the current business challenges, and the pathway to build a new world of outdoor advertising in India post-COVID

Nabendu Bhattacharyya, CEO & MD - Milestone BrandcomNabendu Bhattacharyya, CEO & MD, Milestone Brandcom is set to design the new business model by importing international technologies and ideas, and use foreign learnings to enhance Milestone Bandcom and DAN India brands.

What is the extent of the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdowns on your business?

We are in the business of OOH communications. Even before the lockdowns took place, business dipped to 50% because cities like Mumbai only wanted COVID-19 related communication. From April, with no audiences on the road, we have had cancellations and zero billing.

How do you plan to approach business hereon?

Prior to India, the US and Europe markets were already affected by COVID-19. Those countries mainly use digital as a medium to market OOH. Digital outdoor offers dynamic messaging with the use of creative applications. I firmly believe, audience behaviour and media consumption patterns will change because of social distancing. People will now prefer commuting solo in a car, on a bike or cycle or even walk on the road, at least for a year. Hence, I believe, digital billboards will be very effective for creating communications. Many more changes are expected, which are not known yet. But we will have to keep an eye and be an early adopter of the learnings from the developed markets.

Do you see a big change taking place in the OOH business practices?

The entire world will go through a drastic change in terms of working patterns. But yes, this is the best time to learn the best practices, be efficient and productive on deliveries. The next year or two would definitely be a challenging period, and after that business will bounce back. The changed working pattern will be the new normal.

How do you see brand expectations from OOH changing?

I am anticipating a lot of positive changes. Solo travel will be more visible. More people will now prefer travelling solo in a car or on a bike/cycle. Pedestrian traffic will increase. Commuters will now look for a job closer to their homes. People are becoming more health and planet conscious.

Purchase of cars/ two wheelers will now increase. Billboards on road and buses will be in high demand. Brands franchises will concentrate on local area distribution networks. People will prefer not going to crowded places like malls, airports, cinema theatres and stadiums.

There will be an evident reduction in public transportation and thus, brands will start looking at local area marketing post-COVID pandemic.

Additionally, smartphones and telecom service providers will play a huge role as people will spend more hours at home because of the work from home scenario. The demand for smart TVs and home appliances will also see an upsurge as living standards may alter.

Ecommerce players will be more active digitally as people will not prefer going to crowded places like malls. As I said, we are going to experience a very different world post COVID and therefore, would need to future-proof our businesses well in advance to combat the change.

How should OOH be working towards the new normal?

Research and networking will help create white books. Meanwhile, companies should prepare for the future with innovative strategies and plans. This is the best time to invest quality time for a better future. I am confident that we will come out stronger from this crisis and build a new world of outdoor advertising in India post-COVID.


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