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'Airports are not just about selling sites'

By M4G Bureau - February 04, 2014

Times OOH recently acquired the OOH Advertising and Sponsorship rights for Mumbai International Airport's New T2 terminal. Being an established player in handling premium properties like airports, Times OOH has underlined exclusive strategies for media planning and revenue generation in order to make it a win-win situation for all concerned. Sunder Hemrajani, MD, Times OOH shares his plans and expectations on this front with Outdoor Asia and in the process throws light on the possibilities for OOH innovations in a place like the airport.

Mumbai International Airport's New T2 is spread across 4 lac sq ft area and comprises 40 million passenger capacity with 50 scheduled airlines and 21 lac sq. mtrs. of retail space, lounges and travel services. Given all this, it is obviously a strategic point for brands to engage with their target audience and capture potential ones. Leveraging the opportunity is Times OOH, which has converted it into the most sought-after advertising place with the appropriate outdoor formats, packages and innovative solutions for brands. Sunder Hemrajani, MD, Times OOH shares the whole journey starting from the bidding stage till they began offering unique advertising solutions to their clients.

How tough was it, bidding for Mumbai's new T2 terminal?

Basically, it was a tough bidding as there were many other players who were involved. We have worked with Mumbai international Airport for almost 6 years. The fact is this being a world class airport; we were keen to continue this relationship. We were keen because our strategic priority is transit medium and that is why airports and metros have become important for us. Having now worked with both Delhi and Mumbai, we decided that we would be the serious bidder for this airport and other airports as well which are now up for privatization and subsequently will come up for bidding. For us, in terms of strategy, the transit segment like airports and metros are important due to their controlled environment places. Additionally they are important areas from all stakeholders' perspectives.

What has been you vision for T2?

It really bridges together aspects of the Indian heritage. Much of its design is made up of peacock feathers and that being the theme, we said to ourselves that all aspects including the design of the media etc has to be aligned with it. When you look at the quality, it is truly world-class. The over-arching theme pretty much runs in tandem with our media planning. Even in terms of monetizing it, this is slightly different. Here we have come out with very specific packages. For instance, there is a red carpet package which is for brands targeting VIPs. We have designed the package systems to ensure that it is a win-win opportunity for everyone. Ultimately, our focus is on the clients and we had to make sure that we make an offering which is of interest to them.
Times OOH is an established player in handling premium properties i.e. Airports. What learning's did you apply at T2 Mumbai?

One of the learning's has been that in an airport kind of environment, you have to give a format which makes an impact there. Our focus has been to give packages where a client picks his solution. For instance, if a brand wants to create only awareness, there is a specific solution for that, or if a brand is interested in customer engagement, or wants to take that to a next level of experience, then there are solutions for that.  We have learnt that airports aren't just about creating awareness; you can take them to a higher level of value for the client. If client gets the value, we get a part of it as media owners. We believe that airports are now being seen as a place where you can engage with your potential target segment. It isn't about selling sites but about innovations and solutions. Airports are more open to experiments compared to outside media formats. Street media is more of a reminder medium, but clients see greater value in the airport. We have seen our customers generating leads from the Delhi and Mumbai airports. Generating ROI certainly works for the client, for us and the airport authority. Both DIAL & MAIL are happy with this arrangement.

Next learning is that positioning is important - how do you position at the airport?  At the end of the day why should a client or consumer buy you?  The airport is a format where you can engage with the client and offer innovative solutions. The client base is a sophisticated audience here, so in terms of positioning and property, it has to be very distinct.

How did you plan to differentiate the Mumbai International Airport from the Delhi International Airport?

By and large, the reasons for buying the properties in Delhi and Mumbai airports are similar. But there is a difference in terms of media assets. Unlike Delhi which has huge horizontal spaces, Mumbai airport is more vertical. Therefore, the media plan for Mumbai had to be different from that of Delhi. To that extent, our selling strategy with the packages is also different.  So the client base is very similar, however the media is different as are the assets.

Did you conduct any research for the new property?

We did a research through Group M's research wing. They met with clients and agencies to know their perspectives on why they should buy a property, whether it is a Mumbai BQS or airports. This enabled us to work out our positioning for different assets and that is precisely what we have done.
What sort of revenues are you expecting from this new venture?

We are expecting strong double digits numbers.

How has been the Mumbai Airport Authority's support while working on this?

The Mumbai Airport authority has been very co-operative. In fact, we have worked with them very closely and the good thing is that both of us are very aligned in the way the airport needs to be marketed and propositioned. We have exclusive rights for advertising as well as for the sponsorships. This is a great example of teams working together. We have advertising experience and they have the airport experience so if both worked together then it can be a win-win situation for the clients.
Do you have any wish-list of brands?

It is such a great airport, we will surely get all the global brands here.
How do you plan to promote this new property of Times OOH?

We have conducted the entire series of customer-connect events. We organized launch events in London, Mumbai and Delhi to communicate with our customers and potential customers. As for going forward, we will have more such events to engage with the clients.

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