Industry Speak

Abhinav Iyer

GM- Marketing & Strategy
Muthoot Group

Opportunities around Metro Rails will pave the way for Transit medium in the coming decade

"The OOH space has been growing at a decent rate of 11% CAGR for the last 4-5 years and is expected to continue to grow at a similar rate. For us too, OOH has always been a part of our media mix and it shall continue to grow in times to come."
March, 2020

Metro rail networks have become major advertising destinations owing to the increasing ridership and the variety of advertising formats that are available there. BFSI brand Muthoot Group is one of the brands that opted for high visibility in this space. After the Greater Kailash metro rights, the brand recently partnered with CMRL for the semi-naming rights of Nandanam Metro Station, apart from using various other formats there. Abhinav Iyer, GM - Marketing & Strategy, Muthoot Group shares the brand experience with advertising on Nandanam Metro station in an interview with allaboutoutdoor.com

Excerpts from the interview are as follows:

Recently, The Muthoot Group and Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) have inked a contract for Semi-Naming Rights (SNR) of the metro station. Can you take us briefly through this?

We are extremely happy to share that The Muthoot Group is the first brand to take Semi-Naming Rights at a CMRL Station. Chennai market is a very important market for us with over 150 branches in the city and +900 branches in Tamil Nadu (of the total +5200 branches pan India). Since SNR worked extremely well for us in Delhi, we decided to take the same format to select other metro cities as well. With SNR at Nandanam Metro Station, the larger idea was to reinforce our footprints in the state of Tamil Nadu. Apparently, Chennai does not have much of OOH options thus we thought of creating a signature signage specially in the out-of-home space – something that would be a great way to highlight our presence among the people of Chennai.

Why did you choose Nandanam Metro Station to invest in this mega branding and visibility property?

Nandanam Metro Station provides a unique platform for branding in Chennai. It is a brilliant opportunity for us to showcase and enhance the brand and widen its reach in Chennai. Nandanam Metro Station is located on the arterial road with high traffic in the city. It connects the city to the airport and the station at a major cross-road with heavy vehicular traffic. Also, it is an important junction because it is located near to the business hub with Regional Offices of various leading business groups. Our aim is to urge the consumers to develop affinity towards the brand due to its high recall and visibility quotient.

Can you throw some light on the interiors and designing part of the metro station?

Nandanam Metro Station has a rich aesthetic and artistic feel to it as the interiors and exteriors of the metro station are painted with our brand colours and messages that convey the inherent brand values of the Group. Our communication from the façade to the interiors, concourse and platform branding endeavours to take the customer on a seamless journey from brand building to tactical benefits. We have used our brand elements and tactical value prepositions beautifully and we believe that this will surely leave a positive impression on the minds of the people of Chennai. As Mr. Amitabh Bachchan is our brand ambassador and being the principal team partner of the MS Dhoni led Chennai Super Kings IPL team, we have promoted these assets quite aesthetically in our creatives. We have also leveraged the station’s façade to highlight key messages such as the Muthoot Family’s business legacy of 800 years, 20 Diversified Business Divisions, India’s No.1 Most Trusted Financial Services Brand distinction and 5000+ branch network pan-India. Apart from external branding, we have also used Platform Screen Doors & Concourse Branding inside the station.

Nandanam is a premium area located in the heart of Chennai city. This main arterial road connects all the major networking roads in Chennai. The Nandanam traffic signal is one of the busiest junctions in Chennai with +8 lac vehicles passing through it on any given day.

How does The Muthoot Group plan to use this initiative to increase the customer base? 

Coming up with such an initiative and getting associated with CMRL is a step ahead in our objective of extending the Group’s reach and offering a world-class consumer experience across India. Through this important Transit medium association, we plan to go beyond achieving reach & frequency and build (and reinforce) ‘brand stature’. In due course we also intend to host activations inside the station to create greater connect with commuters. This will help increase the brand awareness in a big way.

The OOH industry is largely labelled as unstructured. Where does outdoor feature in your media plans?

It is partially true that the OOH industry is relatively unstructured, but as the industry is developing, we feel that more structure will automatically develop. The OOH space has been growing at a decent rate of 11% CAGR for the last 4-5 years and is expected to continue to grow at a similar rate. For us too, OOH has always been a part of our media mix and it shall continue to grow in times to come.

Furthermore, an ecosystem of trusted partners always helps us in achieving our marketing objectives expected from this medium.

What percentage of your marketing spends is allocated to OOH?

The marketing spend for OOH is completely dependent on the kind of campaign that we undertake, that is, the objectives of the campaign, the target audience and the location. It is very relative to the need and the nature of the activity. Percentages of our marketing budgets spent on OOH are completely need-driven and varies depending on the marketing objective and brief.

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

Transparency is certainly a concern when it comes to OOH. Once this aspect of OOH is resolved; the growth will be manifold. Unlike other media channels, unfortunately, there aren’t any central monitoring reports by any third party. While many agencies are leveraging their proprietary audience measurement metrics, there is a growing need for an industry accepted common currency.

How is the Indian market different from the international market for OOH industry? 

There are differences because of a few factors such as infrastructure, regulation, technology, and in the basic way that the audience interprets the OOH medium. Digital OOH (DOOH) is another area where India is yet to witness growth. Globally, DOOH contributes to 30-40% of overall OOH revenues. In India, it is less than 3%. Vandalism, Regulation, Permissions and overall maintenance are factors which still need attention for DOOH to grow and match global levels.

What are the changes needed in the outdoor industry to retain and attract more brands towards it?

As mentioned earlier, this media is growing steadily at 11-12% annually, it is expected to grow at a similar pace. In terms of changes, the industry needs to get more structured, have transparency in pricing, and move with the latest technologies particularly for delivering measurability, and monitoring tool as a proof of execution. Another most desired change would be the capability to support great ideas on a bigger scale. Sometimes, brands expect a lot and the deliverability is comparatively low. Finally, I would say we are always looking for partners who can work with us to understand our business situation and actually come up with business solutions through their marketing ideas and campaign designs instead of approaching us with a fixed property and a fixed mindset to sell.

Does The Muthoot Group plan to extend Semi-Naming Rights and metro station branding to other stations as well?

Yes. We are always in the look-out for new and good ideas that can be seamlessly woven into a context that delivers our business objective. We welcome OOH partners not just in Metros but also in Tier 1 cities and beyond. As far as SNR is concerned, I strongly believe that opportunities around Metros Rails will pave the way for Transit medium in the coming decade.

Interview by: Aarti Pahwa

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