30 June 2020

OOH advertising in the times of Covid-19

  • Sanjeev Gupta, director of Global Advertisers

By Akanksha Meena, deputy editor

Global Advertisers, a leading outdoor media advertising company in India, provides its services to the leading Indian and multinational brands including Raymond, Levi’s, Air India, Jet Airways, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Audi, Netflix, Sony and LG – to name a few. The company claims to have executed more than 300,000 successful campaigns, 200,000 product launches, 100,000 film brandings and 300,000 event sponsorships since its inception. It also holds a record for implementing Asia’s biggest hoarding in Mumbai in the Guinness book of world records.

Sanjeev Gupta, director of Global Advertisers, explains how the ad agency is dealing with the Covid-19 crisis and its strategy to stay afloat in the post-pandemic times.

‘Covid-19 has surely been an unexpected punch this year. The pandemic caused a worldwide lockdown, and our business wasn’t immune to it as well,’ Gupta says. ‘We had to shut all business operations for almost 3 months. Many big media players gave up in the last three months, surrendered their media houses to the government, and we didn’t want to end up like them. We worked on cutting costs to keep losses at a minimum.’

Strength lies in unity

Gupta explains that if there is one thing that binds businesses together in the times of COVID-19, it is the impact of the seemingly never-ending lockdown. He says, ‘Every business in the world faces uncertainty - no one knows what will happen next. But I knew that we needed to devise a strong strategy to deal with the post-pandemic consequences. 

‘We ensured that all our employees were safe and sound - because a company cannot stand without its people. The strategy was to stick together, protect our employees and their families at all costs through the tough times. We also hosted several webinars (more than 50) on the problems and challenges faced by OOH advertising, real estate, as well as design and architecture to stay connected with businesses, clients, founders, marketing managers, salespeople and to ensure brand presence in the market.’

OOH is here to stay

Gupta agrees that with people locked inside their homes, there weren’t many eyes on the highways, flyovers on the billboard advertisements and it meant profits for digital advertisements. ‘People were practically glued to their phones - so yes, digital ads were seen by millions every day, and of course, these ads promised a great deal of sales revenue. But I wasn’t bothered by it. In the advertising industry, trends keep changing. OOH advertising is the only form of advertising that has evolved with the changing times and adapted to the current trends. Look at DOOH! Outdoor advertising is no longer just static. It can attract the right kind of target audience and change ads according to the mood of the people. Outdoor advertising is here to stay,’ he says.

Gupta argues that brands have a misconception that with fewer people stepping outside their homes, printed OOH or vehicle graphics might not be fruitful. But, he says, even if just 100 people step out of their homes in a town, they might have more purchasing power than thousands of those at home. In-store and OOH ads target this specific group of people, who are probably earning, and who will probably spend a decent amount on buying goods and services.

‘OOH and in-store print ads attract the right customers to the right stores, in any situation. That is why OOH advertising has survived since decades and will continue to do so for all time to come,’ he emphasizes.

Gupta observes that with relaxations in the lockdown, the demand for OOH ads is on a rise and he sees the demand rising in the future. The company has started communicating with its clients again and is offering beneficial OOH advertising schemes and plans. 

Gupta points out that the advertising market has never been stable, and rather than constantly redefining its approach, the company tries to stick to its core marketing principles. A business of course has to adapt to changing times but should not abandon this unique vision.

Nostalgia attracts customers

The pandemic is not about to end, and while businesses are gradually opening up, footfall in brick and mortar stores is weak. ‘It’s not easy to position yourself in the market post-Covid-19 if you happen to run a traditional, physical store to sell your product. People are scared to leave their homes - and online retail has seen a surge in orders. But if you want your brick and mortar store to pick up the pace again, work on just one word - nostalgia!’ Gupta says. ‘Everyone remembers their favorite food from childhood and the store that served them. Evoke nostalgia, and see it work!’

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