Dec 10, 2008

Mktg - Battle against terror goes ‘outdoor’ in Mumbai

Surina Sayal

Following the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, angry citizens are venting their feelings and opinions in the form of blogs, candlelight vigils and protests. Now, hoardings about fighting terrorism have sprung up across the city.

One of the first messages seen on hoardings read “Enough is Enough” and announced the peace rally held on December 3 at the Gateway of India, close to the Taj Hotel, where one of the terror attacks took place. The hoarding generated a buzz because it featured the name of no brand, company or person. Citizens gathered at the Gateway of India in large numbers with handheld signs and candles, voicing their views on the attacks.

DNA has launched a campaign in Mumbai, putting up hoardings that read “Enough of tolerance? Speak up.” and “Spirit of Mumbai. For how long?” The campaign, which is called DNA Eyes and Ears – People Protection Group, will provide people with a fast and decisive means of getting in touch with the concerned authorities in a crisis situation.

Sheena Saji, head, marketing, DNA, says, “We wanted people to write back and get involved. We wanted to reach out to people – to do something for the city. Instead of running from pillar to post, all a citizen now has to do is send an SMS to DNA and we'll check up on the complaint.”

Saji adds that print was used for the campaign, but since Mumbai does not imply only DNA readers, outdoor was also used significantly to reach out to as many people as possible.

The Times of India, too, has launched an outdoor campaign, with the hoarding saying, “Mumbai cares. Because all we have is us.” The campaign encourages people to contribute in terms of time and money.

These campaigns have made use of other media as well. So, why the focus on outdoor? Jayanta Sengupta, director, Skills Bridge, brand consultancy, says simply, “For the same reason that they would advertise any other product or service. Outdoor ensures very quick visibility and is literally an 'in your face' medium.”

He adds, “The effectiveness of the outdoor medium does not vary with the nature of the message. The way the lay audience consumes media is independent of the message – the only determinant in consuming behaviour is timing. The horrible incidents in Mumbai are highly top-of-mind now and if a brand wishes to do something about it, this is a good time to send out a message. Three months later, it will be old hat.”

Nabendu Bhattacharyya, president, Ogilvy Action, believes that the hoarding campaigns have helped create awareness. “In fact, internationally, they put up images of terrorists on hoardings so people know who the perpetrators are,” he says.

Bhattacharyya says that he thinks that the hoardings need to be much more interactive. They can be placed at high congregation points such as railway stations, malls and multiplexes. At malls and multiplexes, a small stall can be put up to inform the public of any development and to remind them to be patient during security checks.

The Mumbai hoardings are proof that whether they sport commercial messages or social messages, the power of the outdoor medium cannot be underestimated.

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