Posts Tagged ‘outdoor agency’

Advertising is going through a metamorphosis and how! These days most advertisers are pushing their creative and outdoor agencies to create eye grabbing installations on billboards or any other outdoor media vehicles. One obvious route used is to create giant replicas of package or other relevant objects. There are many popular ones like Absolut, Mini, Ikea or Heiniken done over the period of time. Check out few of them on Clients in India also desire to have their campaigns dotted with such innovations. But lack of time, prohibitive cost, lack of expertise and impatience makes it a difficult proposition.

In the absence of using such giant replicas or props, is there a way in which the billboard can still be made attractive? Yes, many campaigns we see these days use smart graphic renditions to give a depth to the objects and pictures. Clever use of shadows and perspectives makes the packs or objects that you want to highlight, stand out, and helps grab a better attention from the passing audience. The next pertinent question is, does it come cheap? Ideally not.

Shown below is an artwork where 3D effect is given:

Now guess what’s wrong in it.

Mistake #1:
The shadows by sunrays are sharper than what’s provided here. Probably it was meant for the 3-4 halogen bulbs from the top illuminating the board in the evening. But then half of the sites are illuminated from the bottom! So the shadow should be above the cubes as well!

Mistake #2:
This is a rampant one. It starts from the fact that outdoor is still an after thought and when a shoot takes place, the stills take care of ads for press and brochures. We all forget that these ads are seen at an eye level, when you hold them in your hand. The problem is the camera angle which are either top, a bird’s eye view or eye-level view. 99% of billboards or any outdoor media vehicle for that matter is at appreciable height. So if the intention is to create a realistic 3D effect of the object then the camera angle has to be from the bottom, i.e. ant view. Therefore if I want to show a car stuck on the board on its side, then I have no option but to show the bottom of the car, which I guess is not a great sight. Unless I stick it sideways with the wheels on the board and the roof outside.

So the artwork below can be considered as a correction to the above artwork:

Mistake #3:
A single artwork with size adaptations takes care of all sites irrespective of size of the board, its height from the ground, its angle to the viewer and the sun position during peak hours. That should never be the case while creating realistic 3D artworks. Each site should be treated separately with all the data of viewing angle, height and position to the sun. Look at the examples of the same campaign. I am sure you will get it.

Yes, creating 3D effect on the artwork itself takes care of lot of hassles and nightmares, but doesn’t come in cheap as it needs special skills, special treatments, softwares and calculations. The advertisers should realize this.

In the end, actual or replicas or props built and installed on billboards give much better appeal, but we can look at this cosmetic option as long as it’s done right.

Human Resource in outdoor advertising business in India has always been a challenge for the management of agencies. Retention of key talents is a nightmare and a KRA for all CEO’s and Presidents. In one of the Indian outdoor advertising portals, I saw around 50 people movements between 1st April 2010 and 15th September 2010. This is just a part of all the movements noted and published. I guess the numbers are far higher.

I don’t know why this issue has never been discussed in any forums. But to me its scary for just a Rupees 20 bn industry!

Quiet a few questions that come to mind and for which I don’t need to pretend having answers:

a) Such churn is witnessed despite the growth being slow or non-existent. And most people switch jobs not without a package enhancements. I wonder how are the companies coping with these additional budgets without additional revenue stream?

b) Why do people in outdoor advertising hop around so much? Did they set high expectations when hired, and fail to deliver? In that case there is a major problem both with the prospective employee and employer. Or its just for the lure of money?

One problem for sure is when a new agency sets shop. With the shortage of talent and resources, the only way the new shops can form a team is by attracting talents with hefty pay packets. The solution to this, obviously lies with all the successful agencies who have over the years failed to create a strong culture, training, talent development and retention policies.

The second issue is movement of big ticket clients. There are quite a few big budget accounts who have made a ritual to change their outdoor agency every year. To service such giant flirts, you do need a massive team spread across geographies. But when these gipsy accounts get ready to move to the next destination, the agency has little option but to let go that huge workforce.

I am sure the agencies and companies have a lot to do to have a process and policies in place to manage HR much more effectively.

These days we get to see those flimsy vinyl flexes on billboards. Once your advert is printed on them and installed on the billboard you would be lucky if the old message or writing hidden behind the flex doesn’t show up. It looks very apparent, especially if the background of your design is white, which remains unprinted. To add the woe are the strong winds or thunderstorm during the months of summer and monsoon, which rips apart your flexes and leave a torn brand message hanging from the billboards. This again is the result of the thinness of the vinyl.

The responsibility should not be passed onto the printers alone. The agencies and the clients should equally share the blame. In the jest of brining down the cost to sub Rupees 10 per square feet, they ignorantly propagated the cheaper materials from China and Korea. Thin skins can be a hit for condoms but not in outdoor advertising. In such cases of low cost printing, I would prefer the client taking the call and onus, and not the agency.

There is another problem area. And that’s about flex installation. Clients these days insists free or negligible  installation charges. I got caught in this trap once. For a recent campaign, to ensure quality we made sure the flexes were of acceptable weights (ounce) which is a denominator of the thickness of the material required. When the printed flexes were installed there was no reason to complain about print quality or translucency. But what came and hit me was the innumerable wrinkles after the flex was stretched, which couldn’t be eradicated despite couple of attempts . In the enthusiasm of getting the flex right, I had forgotten that these days pipe-mounting has beenn replaced completely with nail mounting.

Pipe-mounting is having pockets on all 4 sides of the bleed through which iron pipes are inserted which are then stretched and tied to the structure. Whilst in nail mounting or wire mounting the flexes are stretched by hand and then either nailed or wired through holes. The second option which is the cheaper one works fine for thinner materials which can be stretched with hand, but not for thicker ones which has less elasticity.

I learnt the hard way that from now on, I will have to  make my clients aware that by adding couple of percentages on the overall outdoor budget for thicker material and for pipe mounting installation, the outdoor campaign would be in good health.

30 Aug 2010

The dilemma with vinyl flex

Author: maya | Filed under: Uncategorized

I am not sure whether outdoor advertising was in vogue when William Shakespeare had written these famous words for Hamlet “To Be or Not To Be – that is the question”. Hamlet was dissatisfied with life and unsure what death would bring.

Outdoor industry in India resembles so much to Hamlet’s contradictory character – reckless and at times cautious, courteous but many a times uncivil, tender yet ferocious. Our industry in India is livid with contradictions.

For the last 18 years I heard everyone crying hoarse to make the industry dealings more transparent. Are we really serious about it? If yes, then we should have done away with the licensing system of allocation of sites. Licensing system will never let an industry become professional, organized and transparent. Also by now a robust monitoring system should have been in place. And with the agencies, they should have had by now an end to end, complete see through ERP system. None of these are visible in the horizon?

I have seen many weep to the fact that outdoor cannot be measured. What steps have we all taken to make this medium more accountable? Zilch. Only two agencies and two media owners stuck their neck out and invested in possibly a hopeless mission. The whole world knows that such research and tool will benefit the user as well as the seller. But most of us have held it back purposefully.

On one side we come out with schemes incorporating advertising opportunities along with city beatification and landscaping, on the other side there are a handful who propagate illegal media, sites and sizes, and we do nothing to stop them.

The lack of knowledge  coupled with the indecisiveness of Hamlet prolonged the inevitable fight of good over evil. For us its not good or evil its all about living or dying. Lets choose right away…

13 Aug 2010

To Be or Not To Be…

Author: maya | Filed under: Uncategorized