Out-of-home advertising rides on Asian pop stars

Published February 28, 2021, 8:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The out-of-home (OOH) advertising platform, which was among the hardest hit sectors during the height of pandemic, expects to start to recover this year with new trends emerging and brands riding on the popularity of celebrities, particularly Asian or K-Pop stars.

Raoul Buencuchillo, president of one of the country’s leading OOH firm HDI Admix.

“The entire industry of out of home media was really badly hit last year, but the start of 2021 looks very encouraging for us. We are starting to get brands who paused their advertising efforts go on board again, and we are also seeing growth with interests coming from small and medium enterprises as well,” said Raoul Buencuchillo, president of one of the country’s leading OOH firm HDI Admix.

The long hiatus induced by the pandemic, he said, also gave the industry time to re-strategize and act accordingly. It has allowed them to re-assess current inventories, what products can be quickly launched that are relevant with the current times, and strengthen collaboration with other industry players to survive.

 For 2021, Buencuchillo spotted some interesting advertising trends for OOH. He noted that since OOH is a more personal platform, they were used to the idea that billboards are just for brands, or for major advertisers.

“But what we discovered is that because the clutter is now online, people are now attracted to the idea of putting their personal messages on billboard, particularly for fan groups,” he said.

He noted that the Asian drama and Asian idol craze was even more magnified during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and more people have become fans of these idols.

When restrictions were a bit eased up for Metro Manila under the general community quarantine, Buencuchillo noted that Filipino fans have also adapted the activities of other international fans, and one of those activities is greeting their idols on billboard. “We have gotten so many inquiries of Kpop or Asian idol fans wanting to greet their idols using our platforms. This made us create a special package for these fans because we want to make our sites more accessible to them,” he said.

Another trend is on jeepney ads platform, which Buencuchillo need some rethinking. To make their jeepney ads relevant to the present times, OOH firms have added the Jeepney passenger divider to jeepney ads set. “It’s actually a perfect channel for brands who would want to communicate more specific messages to their target audience, and if you have a really creative idea, you can play with the execution of this new platform,” he said.

Before the pandemic, marketing people would consider digital as a competitor to the traditional advertising. But during the pandemic, Buencuchillo said the audience’s lifestyle has become complex.

Thus, one industry trend in this pandemic is the integration of both online and offline advertising. As such, ADMIX has also re-crafted its current offerings and launched its Multi-touchpoint Plan allowing brands to stand out in different customer touchpoints. From mobile/socials ads as they wake-up to transit ads (Tricycle or Jeepney ads) as they head to work to the waiting sheds leading to their point of purchase.

“Today, brands are no longer asked to choose their advertising channels; the question we ask them is that what’s their budget allocation for each channel,” he added.

With these new trends, Buencuchillo believes that OOH placements will continue despite the fact that people are working from home and social isolation are becoming a regular occurrence.

“If you look at the roads now, the number of vehicles continue to grow every month. And while there are people working from home, most companies have also started requiring their employees to come to work physically,” he said.

To adjust with the times, industry players have also lowered their advertising rates to help especially the startups and small and medium enterprises.

“One of the insights we got was that SMEs were hesitant to approach us or inquire because they always thought you need millions to put your brand on a billboard along EDSA, but we made our offers flexible and affordable for them. And right now, you will see several start-ups on billboard and this encourages other start-ups to have their brand on billboard as well,” he added.

Aside from partnering with other industry players, HDI Admix also launched a program to help those who are in need of additional financial source. The Independent Sales Agent program of HDI Admix welcomes anyone interested to sell our out-of-home inventories to brands or people. “We offer competitive incentives to those who can sell and help us get our sites booked,” said Buencuchillo.

This is part of HDI’s legacy having started as a corporate social responsibility effort to provide decent sheds to Filipino commuters.

In the early 90’s, HDI founder Peter Chia saw a lot Filipinos waiting for their rider under the scorching heat of the sun. So, he approached the Metro Manila Development Authority that he would put up these waiting sheds.  Soon advertising firms were asking if he would allow the sheds to become advertising channel and to help maintain the waiting sheds. Thus, the HDI Stopovers was launched.

HDI Admix adapted to the changing trends in the industry over the years which led the company to launching 2 more businesses, HDI Admix – large format billboards and HDI Adventures –Digital OOH.