Nimish Dwivedi
Mar 30, 2011

OPINION: The building blocks of outdoor media

Nimish Dwivedi, regional head of marketing at PayPal, looks at the building blocks for transforming outdoor media from a traditionally perceived passive or secondary medium to literally sing and dance for a brand.

Nimish Dwivedi
Nimish Dwivedi


Marketers continue to wade through the challenges posed by the blurring lines between on-and offline media and its ever-changing form. Television is all about clutter and wading through massive choices to find a programme that appeals or making a choice to ignore the television set altogether and simply to watch content online or through DVDs at one’s own pace. Similarly for print, consumers can choose to stick with newspapers and magazines, or access the same content through e-readers or simply switch to online consumption.

There is however one area which still represents a huge opportunity for marketers to drive home uncluttered awareness and even go beyond awareness to establish product benefits and brand values. In addition, this option can also be used to build levels of interactivity and opportunities to engage with the brand in exciting ways.


That option is outdoors. Consumers like to settle into a bus, train or taxi and take a look around what they are driving past, even when they are talking on the phone or playing on their mobile phones. Similarly, receptivity to marketing messages is higher when consumers are simply walking or waiting at trains and bus stations. There are of course a few building blocks to harnessing this medium effectively for maximum impact.

The first building block is consistency. Ever since its launch H&M has taken a set of billboards in Hong Kong and continue to refresh their messaging. Sticking to one location for a committed period significantly enhances awareness. The messaging format has also been kept homogeneous and standard around three elements, including attractive models with even more attractive clothes, a clear mention of the price making sure that value registers as a integral element of the brand and ongoing new collections to coincide with seasons or designers collaborating with H&M. 

The second building block is compatibility to the consumer’s consumption need. Beer brands like Carlsberg and Tiger Beer in Singapore are splattered all over buses. After a hard day’s work and the perennial heat and humidity of Singapore, a cold beer seems like the best thing in the world during the evening commute home.

The third building block is captivating messaging in terms of form and content. Is the messaging bringing out the brand values in a striking and catchy manner? Can the outdoor message be something that serves as a standalone and memorable means of brand communication? On a recent trip to India, I noticed a unique way of messaging in an outdoor campaign for Gatorade. A dummy climber trying to climb through a large rope in the billboard not only had very high noticeability but even brought out the sports nutrition benefit of the brand in a very clear manner.

The last emerging building block is connectivity. Think about the proliferation of 3G and smart phones that allow people to get online in a flash. Starting in Japan, the QR code technology allows interested users to go straight to the brand’s website through a click of the phone’s camera.

It allows marketers to use outdoor as a medium to kindle interest and lead interested prospects straight to their websites with detailed brand benefits, more detailed visual advertising messages and the opportunity for immediate purchase. Now is the time to embed connectivity in all outdoor campaigns as QR codes continue to evolve to become even more interactive and customer friendly.

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