January, 2018

Freedom from Press!

By Javed Ansari

When Absar Alam, a working journalist, was appointed Chairman of PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) in October 2015, it was being expected that with an active journalist in the driving seat, the media regulatory body (only pertaining to electronic media) would move ahead on professional lines and weed out those elements on TV and radio channels who had nothing to do with the business of news media or had never been journalists. He was also expected to hammer sense into the unprofessional presentation of TV news. However, this never happened and Pakistani TV channels went from bad to worse.channels in the garb of news anchors?

Planning Your OOH

Everyone in advertising these days seems to be all hyped about the latest tool to have hit the scene. This is none other than the digital medium. More popularly known as the social medium, this is a tool that the advertiser and the media planner are all going ga ga about. They are so eager to include it in the media mix. They are excited because it costs so little and if it’s an urban and moderately educated audience they are trying to a then there could be nothing else like it. Who cares about the conventional media then? Who cares, for example, for TV, radio and print? But wait. There’s one other medium that everyone is forgetting, a medium that could be very economical if the target is the urban audience, though it could work as effectively for the rural market as well.

It is the outdoor medium, also known as OOH (for Out Of Home). Gone are the days of hoarding painters who used to make cartoons out of handsome faces or disfigure them because they practiced a half-baked craft. Now is the age of digital printing on vinyl. It is a process that accurately prints any photo – to any size – from the small pole sign, road banner and backdrop to huge hoardings going up to 15 feet by sixty feet or more – or from a hundred and twenty feet and over in height to any width. The art of outdoor advertising has advanced to such an extent that the frames in which the vinyl prints are enclosed can be moulded and wrapped around high buildings, etc. There are also many others methods of digital printing processes that print outdoor designs to wrap around cars, buses and even aircraft!

Since photography is involved, photos for the advertising message are either taken from the TV or print campaign or shot exclusively for outdoor advertising with professional lighting in studio settings or outdoors. What is great about the fast-progressing outdoor medium is that the hugely blown up picture looks pretty and creates tremendous appeal. It looks equally attractive in the day as at night through internal back-lighting or front-lighting. It is only that in cities like Karachi, those who booked all those strategically-placed outdoor locations tended to take things too far and the collusion between the various city bodies and the OOH vendors simply blanketed every available spot with outdoor signs which distracted traffic and even led to serious accidents in storms and high winds. No main road, road intersection, roundabout, traffic separator or building top was spared.

It was then that the Supreme Court of Pakistan stepped in and gave a ruling that all hoardings on Karachi’s roads, intersections and public land were to be removed by a certain date. This resulted in the removal of almost 70% of the billboards, pylons and pole signs. According to one estimate, this cost the vendors and advertisers some 9.5 billion rupees in Karachi alone. Most of the hoardings and signs were on Shahrah-e-Faisal and other they key city roads. Despite the court orders, there were many vendors who were still living in the hope that they would be back to their old ways very soon and that is why they did not completely pull the hoarding structures down. Why the Supreme Court intervened was perhaps because the OOH industry in Pakistan had gone into an over-excessive expansion mode. While the vendors were putting up hoardings everywhere they saw an empty space and making millions, the advertisers who were commissioning them seemed to have lost the plot and were pitching in their precious advertising budgets without determining the efficacy of the billboards with reference to their locations.
However, now specialized OOH advertising evaluation systems are available in Pakistan and these can be a big help for advertisers in helping them spend their advertising rupee where it gets the best results. The advertisers can make the adspend on outdoors a part of their advertising strategy and choose OOH spots that really do justice to the ad message instead of simply throwing in money haphazardly so that, at the end of the day, if there is anyone who benefits from the spending is the vendor and not the advertiser who is just lured into spending on unplanned OOH advertising and this leads to zilch results at the other end of the tunnel. Now advertisers must use OOH more judiciously and get results from every rupee they spend. After all, it is an economical medium and can be effective, provided the spending is based on location vs. audience research.


President & Editor-In-Chief:
Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Managing Editor
Zeba Jawaid

Javed Ansari
  Assistant Editors:
Syeda Areeba Rasheed Faizan Usmani
Khawaja Amer

Editorial Team:
Faisal Siddiqi
Kashif Qadri
Sumair Aftab
Kashif Ali
Rohail Hassan

Layout & Graphics:
Haroon Rasheed
Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Riaz Masih

  General Manager
Marketing & Sales
Syed Ovais Akhtar

Brand Manager
Muhammad Aamir

Circulation & Coordinator
Aqam-ud-Din Khan

The views expressed by the contributors are not necessarily shared by the editor.
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