Industry Speak

Karthi Marshan

Chief Marketing Officer
Kotak Mahindra Group

OOH is a very flexible medium

"OOH can be leveraged in powerful ways like Hyperlocal communication, Impact, stature and Topicality."
December, 2018

Karthi Marshan, Chief Marketing Officer, Kotak Mahindra Group in an interview with allaboutoutdoor.com shares insights on the brands recent campaign 'Card Mila Kya' and tells about all that the brand is doing to reach out to its TG.

Excerpts from the interview are as follows:

What was the insight behind Kotak Mahindra latest OOH campaign 'Card Mila Kya'?

It was more an idea than an insight. Previously in the year, we engaged Ranveer Singh to be the voice of 811, the bank account for everyone that could be plucked from the sky and set up in a jiffy. We felt that his was the perfect persona to convey that 811 did not judge, it did not screen and it did not discriminate. After the campaign that ran in the months of June, July and August, we found that the recall for Ranveer being associated with 811 was very high.

In the month of November, we were scheduled to launch a limited edition Ranveer Singh Debit Card, a card that would not only carry iconic images of him on the fascia, but also give his fans deals and offers from some of his other endorsements. That's when the news of the imminent nuptials of Deepika and Ranveer broke. On social media, we saw a lot of chatter around who's getting invited to the wedding, among other things. In this, we saw a chance for the yet-to-be-launched card to get some disruptive buzz. Thus the line, "Card mila kya?". We deliberately omitted Kotak logos from this teaser creative to create some intrigue.

Sure enough, social media mavens picked it up, speculated about who could be behind this, what it could mean etc. And inevitably, the smarter twitterati who made the connection enjoyed outing us, announcing to the world at large that it was a Kotak card being launched, not a wedding invitation card. In the bargain, we got a lot of engagement of an organic nature.

What was the brief given to the OOH specialist firm for the campaign rollout? Has the OOH campaign helped to build greater brand awareness?

The OOH agency had already been briefed for the Debit Card campaign. The task was to ensure that the striking images captured for the campaign make deep impact, by picking the most impactful sites. Once we had the "card mila kya" idea, all we had to do was hold back the launch creative and pre-empt it with the teaser.

How important are the Tier II and Tier III cities for Kotak?

Very important. In the first year of 811's launch, we were pleasantly surprised to see powerful demand for the service from far flung cities where we didn't necessarily have branches yet. Our investigation revealed, that as in many other categories, the consumer was leapfrogging the service provider. People from the smaller cities were perfectly happy to bank with us via just the app, and didn't really feel the need for a branch. In that sense, we were able to see 811 as the ecommerce equivalent in banking.

Will OOH only serve as a reminder medium?

That is a very lazy way to think about outdoor. I believe the power of OOH is in the fact that it can be leveraged in the following specific and powerful ways:

a. Hyperlocal communication is possible with OOH, because the message can be changed every kilometre, even every few hundred metres if needed. We have done this to great effect, by placing relevant messaging outside competitors' branches, for example.

b. Impact and stature: while video is naturally the king of emotional impact, I believe OOH is an underrated medium that can do just as well in moving the audience. The sheer size of the typical OOH site is one that enables us to make a grand impact on the senses. Used well, this can build stature for the brand.

c. Topicality: OOH is a very flexible medium, where messaging can be changed practically overnight, exactly like in a newspaper, except a whole lot cheaper. Which is what we managed to do very well with the "Card mila kya" campaign that was timed perfectly to align with the news of Ranveer's imminent nuptials and our about-to-be launched Ranveer Singh celebrity image debit card.

Brands often talk about clutter in the outdoor domain. Does that influence your decision in any way?

Yes, of course. The cities where OOH is available, are also abused by the surfeit of sites, all competing for visibility with each other. The primary way in which this influences our decisions is to ensure the creative is compelling. David Ogilvy advised 12 words or less. We try to use 6 words or less.

Is innovation the best way to stand out of clutter in the outdoor domain?

Not necessarily. Frequently, the innovation is actually just a gimmick that is shouting, "Look at me!" Unless the innovation itself is germane to the messaging, I would always prefer to avoid it. Just like it's a lazy marketer who leaps to use a celebrity just to get his customers' attention, innovation is a much abused tool.

Does it bother you that there is no common audience measurement system yet in the Indian outdoor space?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

What would you like to see happening in the outdoor space in the coming years?

Professionalism in all aspects, including rating, pricing, monitoring and reporting.

Interview by: Aarti Pahwa

Tags :  Karthi Marshan CMO Kotak Mahindra Group

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