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'We just need a tipping point to be creative'

By M4G Bureau - February 04, 2014

In the midst of the collective push towards larger than life, is the OOH industry losing out on original creative thinking? Why are there so less of the likes of Amul and Economist, brands who in their own ways trail-blazed creativity in OOH? Aneil Deepak, also known as Andee, Head - Ideas & Planning, DDB Mudra Group, in a chat with Outdoor Asia answers some of these questions and more in the context of creativity in OOH.

Why we don't have the like of'Amul's anymore…

The brilliance of Amul is that they made their point with just a few hoardings. They have created a reason for you to look at their hoardings. You might not know the exact size of their hoarding, but you know where it is. Therefore, the moment you come there, you just peep out of the bus window and look at it. But usually in most of the campaigns, we don't give a reason for the audience to stare at. There is a kind of arrogance or complacence among the brands and the agencies, which makes them believe that the brand name will automatically make people see it. But people are not really bothered about that.

Some good examples of creative thinking

Of course there are some brands that are fans of creativity, brands like Aircel, Star and Birla Sun Life Insurance. They are completely open to new ideas and willingly invest in them.  So creativity in the end is the combined efforts of the OOH agencies, the creative people and a few clients who love that kind of work.

I think creativity is a process and I won't say it is lost. I think it is just waiting for the right kind of efforts. For example, after almost two years we came up with the Aircel boat, every brief would end with the Aircel boat without knowing that I have done that. Lot of brands would say "we need to do something like the Aircel boat”.  So I would say that we are living in some exciting times and a lot of people are forcing brands to get creative. We are at our full steam and we won't lose the battle. We are almost there. It is only a matter of time before clients start becoming braver and everything will fall into the place. I am very optimistic and I would like to say that by the end of December 2014 may be you will see some pieces of work that will live up to the expected level.

Triggering Creativity

Creativity is not rocket science. It just needs a tipping point like anything else. IPL in cricket is a good example. You struggle for a long period of time and then something happens and changes everything. I think we are looking at tipping points to happen and unless that happens in the OOH industry, it won't change. Most clients associate creativity with cut-outs, jut-outs, neon lighting etc. But we need to demonstrate the possibilities to them so they can understand what creativity truly means.

Categories and Creativity

Creativity works everywhere. But there are too many pre-conceived notions. Also, it is possible to get creative around pre-set rules. Volkswagen is a good example. What the brand has done is extremely creative. They also have a set of rules on what to do and not to do and so does a brand like Birla Sun life Insurance brand. The fact is that the more restricted it is, the more challenging it is for you to be creative. And I don't agree that creativity is restricted by categories.  Also, there are some national brands which spend, innovate, and utilize the OOH medium internationally, but not in India. The brands need to be a lot braver. Most of them look at OOH as a reminder medium and ask for so many sites. But I think the braver thing to do would be to take one site and create a strong impact with it. 

Some Favourites

Hot Wheels is one of my favorite campaigns. It is impeccable; there is no LED, no technology, no Bluetooth activation and no AR code. It is just a beautiful and simple OOH and that is the challenge because we are so obsessed with all of the above that keeping it simple becomes a near-impossibility.

Getting Creative with Digital

Where digital is concerned, a lot of things need to change and the medium needs to be given its due respect. I think the bigger problems lie with the OOH industry. Once creativity happens on billboards, then it will spread to the digital networks automatically.

Message to Brands

When there is limited money; that is the biggest opportunity for a brand to be creative. When the economy is on a down swing and all of us have so very little to spend, we want the money we spend to work for us two times more, and that is when it is very important for us to embrace creativity. For me it is a complete no brainer as to why you can't be creative. The thing to do is to recognize the need for creativity, trust the agency, put on the thinking cap, give them more time, and communicate clearly if there is something you have in mind. This is a good enough brief for us to work on. Creativity is not about individual showcase for us, it is ultimately about the brand and its business.  

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