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Ads find way out of idiot box, printed page
By Kenneth del Rosario
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:51:00 06/04/2009

MANILA, Philippines—As marketing budgets shrink and the search for consumers intensifies in a bid to ward off the worst effects of the economic downturn, many companies are literally taking their advertisements outdoors.

That’s because according to an industry group, outdoor advertising offers a more practical way of launching campaigns as they are cheaper than advertising placements in television, newspapers, or even radio.

Room for growth

“There’s a lot more room for growth for the outdoor advertising industry,” said Astrid Cecile Chua Lee, sales and marketing head of OOH Inc. (OOHI), which produces and places outdoor advertisements.

Lee shared this assessment during the recently concluded Philippine International Conference and Tradeshow on Out-of-Home Media at the World Trade Center, the first of its kind organized by the Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines (OAAP), of which OOHI is a member.

OOHI was one of the 79 exhibitors at the three-day affair with the theme “Out-of-Home: What’s Up?” which brought together the region’s out-of-home advertising industry and marketing decision makers and interest groups to interact, network, discuss and debate issues important to the growing medium.

The trade show aimed to showcase the latest in OOH while encouraging business practitioners to continue breaking barriers to spice up the country’s outdoor advertising arena.

Often referred to as “below the line” advertising, Lee said out-of-home (OOH) advertising has become a major player in the competitive advertising world.

Lee stressed the potential of OOH advertisement in capturing decision makers—working people who have the time and money—who spend a lot of their time on the road because of heavy traffic.

“OOH advertising cuts across all market segments,” Lee said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re well off or financially struggling. Once you drive along Edsa, you see the same billboard up there.”

OOH advertising has also seen the development of new formats in recent years, said Demi Santos, OOHI sales and marketing AVP.

Aside from billboards, OOH advertisement can be seen today on T-shirts, caps, benches, waiting sheds, and even the exteriors of buildings.

Unconventional

Some firms also use mascots or people dressed in costumes to promote products or services.

Others are even more unconventional, putting up brand logos on hot air balloons.

Very effective, too, are ads placed on vehicles such as buses, jeepneys, and taxis that ply the metro the whole day, thus enabling ads to penetrate even the most remote subdivisions.

Santos said LCDs (instead of the usual posters) in vehicles are also showing signs of healthy growth and are the “in” thing today because they’re very “trendy and acceptable.”

“Vehicles with billboards (or what we call roving billboards) are actually very effective when it comes to political campaigns,” Santos said. “This allows them to carry speakers that play their jingles while going around wherever they like.”

According to Santos, the second and fourth quarters of the year tend to be the busiest time of the year for their business. The timely surge, she said, can be attributed to the advertisers’ back-to-school and Christmas campaigns, respectively.

When it comes to how outdoor advertising is affected by the emergence of online advertising, Lee was confident of the former’s strength.

“Not everyone knows how to use a computer,” she said. “I don’t think we’re affected adversely by this new trend at all.”

In the provinces where technology may not always be up to date, outdoor advertising remains dominant, she said.

If at all, she thinks the two forms can only work well when put together for multimedia advertising campaigns.

Though both OOHI officers see a very bright future for the outdoor advertising industry, challenges remain.

Major concern

While natural calamities such as typhoons or earthquakes pose as threat to the integrity of their outdoor materials, Lee said they are more concerned about people who steal the materials they put up.

“A lot of the advertisements we put up, especially the tarpaulins and posters, are stolen and are turned into roofs or curtains,” Lee explained, saying that the industry has been struggling with this problem for years.

Lee also warned ad placers against using fly-by-night outdoor advertising companies that fail to deliver promised results.

“That’s why it’s important to be a member of OAAP because it means we have complete licenses under our belts and that we follow strict rules and regulations that meet industry standards,” she said, adding that her group is also a member of the Advertising Board of the Philippines.

These days, Lee said OOHI was putting more focus on developing new products and services it can offer its clients. “We’ll continue travelling abroad to see and observe trends so our country can be at par, or better than, international standards,” Lee said.


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