Covid 19 pandemic has cut short the advertising budget of most brands / organisations. Your 24 page newspaper is now hardly 10 pages and advertisements are at an all time low. TV ads repeat as if caught in a loop. Hardly any new video commercial appear now. Many billboards at prime locations are empty with brands not willing to pump out money as Covid 19 has affected their business too. Is that the way to approach it? Well, researchers and market analysts tell us a different story. The need for constant advertising and branding activities
The first thing to do by most brands and services when affected by Covid 19 pandemic was to cut short the advertising budget. Several brands have got strict instructions from the top not to release any further advertisement materials without further notice. Do you think such a strategy will work out? Well, the answer put forth by researchers and market analysts is that it might backfire. Although ceasing the entire advertising budget to Covid 19 might help you get a temporary financial advantage on the long run its gone affect the brand image it has created so far. In fact, veterans in the field of advertising and marketing points out that you should continue your branding activity with either a lower advertising budget or making use of the newer advertising media.
Branding is not just about creating a slogan and a logo that millions of people will recognise and remember. Consistency is the key to successful branding. The brand promise must be clear with every interaction about what it proclaims. Apart from this, a brand must constantly devise plans to stay alive in the minds of its customers / consumers. Since our market place is cluttered with products, chances are high that people might find interest in other brands. Constant advertising and branding activities helps consumers to easily connect and recall their favourite brand.
It is not easy to calculate the mood of the consumers and to woo them to buy your brand / product. The modern world consumer mindset is complex. They have their own specific needs and expectations from the brands. A successful brand should be flexible enough to evolve and meet each of their demand. Advertising campaigns and branding activities must be designed in keeping mind of the targeted market. A right ad campaign can concrete the bond between the consumer and the brand.
All said Covid 19 pandemic has turned the advertising strategies of most brands upside down. Yet few continue to keep advertising. Online learning apps have been using the advertising space effectively as the Covid 19 situation enabled more students to pursue education through online sources. Banks and financial institutions are the other sector which keeps on advertising at this time. The high gold rates have made banks as well as NBFC’s to advertise more especially with gold loans to attract more consumers. Automobile industry is also picking up. Reports show that the sale of used cars and two wheelers has increased as people prefer to avoid public transport.
When it comes to OOH, many brands are concerned whether they will get the same kind of exposure to their billboard / advertisement before the Covid 19 situation now as many people stay in their home and avoid journey. But the current situation is the best time to grab attention of people who are travelling as the number of active billboards is very less. Earlier people might not notice as there are many billboards out there. Public transport has resumed service although not in full fledge.
Research proves messages are more effective when repeated. Recall any popular slogan of a product you may remember and companies might have made it through years and decades to make them stick in consumers’ mind. Marketing experts believe repeating a message will work and more frequency is equal to more effectiveness. In other words frequency breeds familiarity and familiarity breed trust. This stands true in this era also.
Arnon Media reached out to a few industry leaders in the OOH industry asking them about their opinion on the same. Excerpts from their views:
Vijayaraj Anirudhan, State General Secretary, Sign Printing Industries Association (SPIA)
The need for constant advertising and branding activities
I believe a product or service can be sold successfully only with strong advertising backup. The main feature of OOH over other mediums is durability. Consider newspaper or TV ads, the moment you close it, the visibility of it ends. The impact of display advertising or OOH is entirely different. Imagine there are 40 outdoor displays of a particular product in the 85 km road from Thrissur to Kochi, by the time you finish reaching your destination the product will have got into the mind of a consumer / traveller.
Advertising and branding activities during Covid 19
Branding should be innovative and creative during this period. I believe the coming months will be a period for survival as an OOH solutions provider. We should introduce more innovative ways in branding and advertising. One innovative way is advertising around the sanitizer disposer machine. Say around 35-45k, advertising companies will be able to even mount a LED TV on this sanitizer disposer machine unit. Now authorities have put sanitizer disposer machines in public places as well as at the entry point of many business houses and organisations. We are now quite sure that the impact of Covid 19 will last at least for 1 or 2 years. People are now getting ready to live with caution amidst Covid 19 threat. The impact on the public specifically designed sanitizer disposer machine units will be higher in the coming days. I’m quite sure that the visibility traffic of this new product will be really good. Many organisations and groups like Charity clubs, Rotary Club and Lions Club are sponsoring more than 1000 sanitizer disposer machines which can be installed and used at the public places. It again increases the opportunity to effectively reach consumers.
Pradeesh Easwar, Co Founder & Managing Director, BLIK DOOH Innovations Pvt Ltd
The importance of OOH
In my personal opinion OOH is one of the few areas which can never be disrupted. It will bounce back for sure. In YouTube or OTT platform, advertising can be avoided if you subscribe to premium services. Or in a TV, you can change the channel to avoid advertisements. But OOH can never be turned off. I deal with various verticals like newspaper advertisements, TV commercials, social media marketing and OOH. Among all, I personally prefer OOH to be the most effective. I’m quite sure that the current Covid 19 situation is temporary. OOH will survive in new formats until people have mobility. Until we have roads and transportation facilities available, OOH will be there. For the next 100 years, OOH will not face any major challenges.
One thing we must take care of now is the rent of billboards. We have to pay the rent to landowners where the billboards are located. Remember that we must maintain a good relation with them. Covid 19 has affected our business as well as theirs.
We need to update ourselves to see the challenges of post Covid 19 situation. Maintain transparency and trust with our clients. Innovations are part of the industry and we must accept it. We should think how modern technology can be incorporated with OOH.
K Ramachandran, Managing Director, Baama Ventures
State Vice President, Kerala Advertising Industries Association (KAIA)
The importance of OOH in advertising
The only media that can guarantee an exposure as large as OOH does for a product or service. The difference in OOH installed across the state from Kasargod to Thiruvanathapuram will be the size. Repeated views create an impact through OOH on the minds of travellers or consumers.
OOH helps to create or continue an impact of a product or service into the mindset of the consumers or public. All other media advertisements merely supplements or continues this reach. OOH gives enhancement, say around 60% enhancement to all other advertisements appeared in other media. In a branding process where the brand or service wants to create an identity either by going for a nationwide launch or for a new launch, OOH provides continuity to advertisements in other media. Only OOH has this ability as its visibility is very high when compared with other medias.
through Advertising and branding activities during Covid 19
The public transport is not yet restored into its full capacity as a result of Covid 19. Fearing the exposure to be low, many brands have completely stopped advertising. That is not a wise decision. I believe for a client, this is the right time for media exposure. Apart from the containment zones, the vehicular traffic has been mostly restored although public transport is still not under its full capacity. Many billboards are now vacant. If a new product launch or branding activity happens, chances are high that it will get maximum exposure.
One thing we could do as advertising agency to encourage clients is to educate brands about this and encourage them to advertise under a new strategy. An informative-commercial advertisement scheme or strategy must have to be discovered by us and we should provide it to our clients. At a pandemic situation, advertising on a large stretch without a proper reason might not create much impact on consumers. So, a public informative advertising strategy must be devised. I’m quite sure that brands or services will return to OOH for sure as there is no other media which could promise the exposure of an OOH. I also think OOH will undergo innovations like Digital OOH is now gaining more acceptances. Physical advertisements like mobile vehicle displays and those which go directly into consumers or customers will get more attention. The lockdown has helped the growth of digital space especially that on our phone. We must really look on how to divert these users on to OOH. I have also heard of a new technology whereby users are notified on their smartphones over Bluetooth about the hoardings around their vicinity. I don’t know the practicability of it but I think some kind of innovation is required for us to effectively curb the danger of other media advertisements.
Brands or services which have experienced the effectiveness of OOH will never go for any other media advertising. From our part, I must say that we need to approach brands or clients convincing them about the need to advertise now. Automobile, Financial Institutions, Online Food Delivery platforms etc can effectively make use of this time. As I said, we need to convince our clients about the possibilities of advertising now and attract them various intelligent schemes.
K Varghese Thomas, Patron, KAIA
“Branding” is the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identify and differentiates a product from other products. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in an increasingly competitive market. It’s a promise to customer. It tells them what they can expect from the product / services. Outdoor advertising commonly referred as Out of Home advertising (OOH) targets consumers who are traversing to home or vice versa or for any other purposes and is a great way to reach active consumers.
Branding and OOH advertising are part of marketing. Branding is more or less a generalised process whereas OOH industry reminds or switches the product / service to a potential customers’ memory. Branding process is a costly affair compared to OOH advertising.
Branding activities help to create an awareness of the product through various mediums like visual, print and online. As a final measure, to reinforce this into the mindset of consumers, brands / services can use OOH. As Kerala is a consumer state almost all the products are to be procured from other states. Hence advertising and branding activities play a major role in making people aware of the brand. As soon as the product hits the market, the manufacturer has to begin its product / service branding / advertisements.
The cheapest and affordable mode for a marketer, working both as a branding and awareness medium in a single format to the potential people in the market can be OOH media.
Biju B Job, Head- Marketing, Eastern Group
The need for constant advertising and branding activities
Consistent advertisement is required to ensure that the brand is live. As the market is flooded with a plethora of brands, the memory of people about a particular brand could be short. Only through consistent advertisement you can create an impact in the minds of people. So, consistent advertisement is required to keep the brand and product alive in the mind of consumers.
Creative advertising during Covid 19
Trust is the factor consumers are looking for. Creatives should be attractive to catch the attention of the consumer. It has become mandatory to cover the driver’s seat in public transport. Consider this as an opportunity. Inform the consumer through OOH the measures you are taking to ensure that your products are safe.
Advantages of using OOH for brands now
You are in the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) world. As there are only few companies keen on advertising, the visual clutter is less. The brand visibility will be high.