How can COVID-19 be the much-needed change-maker for OOH

Charanjeet Arora

Charanjeet Arora, Kinetic Worldwide, India (Group M) sheds light on the state of OOH industry in the face of the pandemic, as it becomes the much-needed catalyst for all mediums

With the lockdown being extended, people across the globe are being confined to their homes, a little longer than expected. Working parents juggling their professional lives with entertaining their kids, people tuning in to news channels for updates more often, data analysts forever on the lookout for statistics; work hasn’t stopped, and productivity hasn’t deterred.

However, one of the few things that have changed, is the way that media gets consumed.

According to a Global Web Index survey, more than half of the Gen-Z group has been consuming significantly more online video content through various mediums.

Not All Superheroes Wear Capes

Earlier in the month of March, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to offer voluntary public service announcements across 7,000 electronic billboards with multiple digital out-of-home (OOH) formats. This led to ads being digitally downloaded more than 500 times!

Businesses across the world are facing difficulties. With the market fluctuating and the economy being unstable, each brand, in its own unique way, has been at work to come up with innovative ways to ‘stay connected’. At a time when uncertainty seeps into everyday operations, brands have come forward to show their solidarity in fighting COVID-19.

Take Coca-Cola for example. Undertaking a selfless initiative, the brand has put forth a disclaimer on all its global (Atlanta, Georgia) social media platforms, claiming that their social feed for the next few days is dedicated to the great work being done by ‘other brands’ during these challenging times.

Also read: Disruption of a Trillion Dollar Industry: How can events industry rebuild

Being socially responsible

A report by Deloitte states how the budgets allocated for advertising are now under scrutiny which creates a huge pressure on achieving the targets.

Some outdoor campaigns that were earlier approved, now seem redundant and have thus been taken off the charts.

Sports and entertainment largely contribute to the overall advertising revenue. But with the IPL postponed and production houses being temporarily out of work, there is nothing ‘new’ that can be leveraged and thus, most mediums have resorted to re-runs. This isolation has invoked a need for positive content.

Although, there is a limitation on the production of new shows, the OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Zee5 have been sharing a variety of content to relay that staying at home can also be an enriching experience.

While Swiggy and Zomato have opened up their portals to delivering groceries and home essentials at doorsteps, Hindustan Unilever, Oyo Rooms, and a lot of other hotels have united to create isolation facilities to ensure that hospitals do not have to bear the brunt of it alone. This initiative is currently active in six cities across the country – Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata. Even a grooming expert such as L’oreal has opted to create hand sanitizers in order to meet the increasing demand.

Social Media Plays a Huge Role

Sharing cultural moments and stories of how people have united, globally, giants like Instagram and Facebook have created stickers and frames that give people an opportunity to showcase their ‘staying at home to save lives’ stories. In fact, for one week, Google’s creative doodle has been paying a tribute to all the health workers, delivery executives, and police officials, that have been risking their lives to ensure that we are safe at home!

Brands are channelizing their energies in marketing communications and social awareness, that is the need of the hour. Majority of the hot spots for advertising, be it the cinemas, metros, malls, or airports and bus terminals – Everything has been put on hold! Once the lock down lifts, brands will first have to gauge the situation and then project a realistic business alignment, followed by advertising plans. It will take every industry a while to recover, but eventually, business will pick up.

The Change is Here

We’ve now experienced first-hand how working from home can become the new normal. Thus, brands that have been working in silos, have finally realized that it is much more beneficial to unite for the same cause. Amul has been one of the best examples of a brand that promotes diversity and inclusion. Be it an incident, a memory, or even an accomplishment, Amul has captured it all.

When most of the industries have figured out that the key to sustainable success is unification of industry veterans, why should media, advertising, and OOH be left behind?

Maybe this situation is just what we needed to help us realize that a team stands far greater chances to create a lasting impact than an individual. The pace may have slowed down but our determination to get back and thrive is still intact! It’s the perfect time to invest in learning something new that will help us invent something innovative for our consumers, in the future.

This article piece is authored by Charanjeet Arora, Co-CEO, Kinetic Worldwide, India (Group M).

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Media Samosa is an online publication reporting trends, insights and breaking stories on various verticals of media marketing.

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