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‘Craft OOH-centric creatives’

By Bhawana Anand - November 26, 2020

Nabendu Bhattacharyya, CEO & MD, Milestone Brandcom sees the demand for OOH innovations growing with the advent of new technologies and wider use of DOOH

How do you look upon innovations in the Indian OOH space? Do you see any visible trends on that front?

OOH is poised to thrive in an ever-growing era of data, analytics and micro-moments. In my opinion, with the advent of technology and DOOH media, innovations are gradually increasing in the Indian market. With cluttered landscapes in India, agencies must focus on creating ideas, which would further provide a breakthrough for OOH as a medium. 

Specialist agencies are now more focused on giving innovative OOH solutions to clients as demand for fresh ideas has increased. Fierce competition among agencies to deliver value-driven work through innovative solutions has pushed both OOH and creative agencies to embrace newer technologies. Businesses and communities need new thinking more than ever; and with the availability of technology, the scope of creative minds has grown manifold.

Every OOH specialist agency has a creative wing set up and various awards push them to showcase their creative capabilities. Similarly, even clients’ KPIs to agencies are linked to award wins. It further helps them to demonstrate their seriousness and focus towards innovation.

Are innovations contributing significantly to OOH business growth?

We believe, size is the core strength of the OOH medium. It creates an impact, gets attention and maximum visibility. Imagine a huge space where a big car brand with an innovative creative is showcased. It certainly will help in building the brand’s image and create a recall value in the mind of the audience. Hence, the medium is more often called a message and a creative mind should know how to take its advantage.

Crafting an excellent creative with an innovation on a 80ft x 40ft billboard or as a matter of fact any billboard can immediately build noticeability. It will undoubtedly go viral in today’s times and help the brand grow. The ultimate objective of OOH communications is to get noticed in the midst of a cluttered information boom. Hence, it is necessary to have a great idea that breaks clutter, gains attention and noticeability. Since the last few years, many brands that believe in the OOH medium invested and increased their spends many folds. Inevitably, as a medium starts to get noticed, the budgets automatically increase. The increase in budgets has been between 20% to 25% over the last 5 years.

Would you also state any of the reasons behind a perceptible decline in demand for OOH innovations?

OOH is strong and growing. However, compared to other advertising mediums, OOH is often planned as ‘below the line’, while in the real sense it is an ‘above the line’ communication media. With the focus of most creative agencies being on TV and digital media, OOH stayed unnoticed. Due to a lack of knowledge/interest by creative gurus, press creatives were adapted to OOH. In fact, leaving aside a few brands, clients usually do not demand outdoor specific creative ideas, unlike for digital media whereby clients demand digital-led creative ideas separately from creative directors. The primary need of the hour is to create OOH-led innovative ideas.

To be honest, in India, roadside OOH advertising is static and not digital. Thus, the possibility of creating great communication ideas reduces. Several opportunities can be created for seamless communication across media like TV, digital and billboard, which is evidently visible in the developed countries. India is severely lacking on that front.

Lastly, there is an apparent absence of industry unified research data. It is difficult for brands to keep OOH media budget separately. Media planning agencies are not media neutral and thus, they do not suggest OOH unless or until they gain from recommending it (if they do not have the capability of OOH within the agency).

Do you see the possibility of executing larger-than-life innovations in the current scenario where sites are getting smaller, seeking permissions from authorities are getting tougher and OOH budgets & campaign durations are shrinking?

I believe, if there is a will there is a way. Milestone Brandcom is one of India’s leading creative agencies. Over the years, we have thrived to make everything possible. For example, right from the lightship display for Vodafone for the first time in India to many great ideas for most of our clients viz. Airtel, McDonald, Titan, ABP News, Axis Bank,, L’Oréal, Tata DOCOMO, Colors TV and DSP Mutual Fund, to name a few.

Yes, it is tough but Government agencies are extremely agile and cooperative too. As an agency, we must be passionate and have a creative bent of mind with the right energy to implement ideas. Our core USP has been to turn the impossible into possible and create visibility that goes viral. Furthermore, we ensure that the ideas/ innovations presented and shared with our clients are meaningful. Our goal is to bring justice to their brand communication. We focus to build trust and a strong partnership with our clients. It brings us immense happiness in making their ideas into action. Once we get an approval, we do not leave any stone unturned to make things possible. This is what helps us stay ahead of the curve and makes us stand out as an agency.

Who can play a lead role in bringing back the glittery avatar of OOH -- OOH agencies or mainline media agencies?

In my view, it should be a collaborative approach. It is important to keep the client first, followed by us as an agency that is responsible for ensuring their brand’s visibility. It is also imperative to have the active participation of media owners. Whether it is the creative/media agency, an OOH specialist agency or a media owner, the collective goal should always be to serve the client with the right value – that is, increasing their brand visibility or accelerating sales. However, it is a two-way bargain. So, it is also important for the client to be specific during the briefing to the agencies. Treating all agencies neutral will help in delivering the best solutions and leave no communication gaps.

How good is DOOH to play around with innovative ideas?

In India, closed environments such as airports, malls, multiplexes, metros, coffee parlours, retail chain stores and even transit media have introduced this medium in a big way. India is at a nascent stage of DOOH implementation. It needs huge hardware investment. Moreover, Government restrictions don’t allow roadside digital display at large. Currently, this medium hardly contributes 10%-15 % of the industry share. According to me, it requires a few more years for DOOH to be visible like in Europe and US markets.



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