Several parts of India have completed a month of being in lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country. While the Government included print and media services under the ‘essential services’ which have been allowed to function during the lockdown, the industry has been facing issues with customers opting out to receive their daily newspaper. This despite, several media houses releasing statements about how print surfaces do not transmit the virus, quoting studies from the World Health Organisation
OOH is also facing the strain as people are confined within their houses.
But, experts believe this is a temporary phase.
Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India, believes that the likes of OOH, posters and POS in public spaces will be used for important messages, announcements and notices directing people to observe safe behavior outside. He explains, “Once the pandemic is finally over and the restrictions are fully lifted, outdoor communication will bounce back. The medium will see increased interest. OOH, posters and POS in public spaces will be used for important messages, announcements and notices directing people to observe safe behavior outside. More brands will pitch in. New opportunities will arise. The focus will be to create greater awareness for health and safety in public life. The medium should return to a better place once the uncertainty is over.”
Raj Kamble, founder and chief creative officer, Famous Innovations, agrees with Paul’s sentiments and states that ‘print will always be proof’.
He says, “It will return to how it was prior to the lockdown. The message will be different (in the advertisements) but the media buying will be the same. Last week, the Government announced a fine of going to prison for spreading fake news on WhatsApp. No one believes social media. The credibility and culture of print and OOH will always be proof. So, the money and investments will be back, but the message will change. For example, a restaurant ad earlier would be about their taste. Now it'll be about their hygiene.”
Rana Barua, CEO, Havas Group India, adds that the advertising world will be judicious, yet aggressive, which will benefit all mediums. “I see the advertising world being judicious yet quite aggressive on all spends and this will benefit most mediums. Thus, print should also see a positive impact for many new brand launches, announcements that are pending in multiple categories and need fast awareness build up, consumer engagement and quick sales,” he says.
Ashish Bhasin, CEO – Apac and chairman, India, Dentsu Aegis Network, is bullish about regional print, but believes English print dailies will continue to feel the pressure.
He explains, “Return to normalcy is a term in question today. There will be things that will never be the same and some will take a long time to return to being 'normal'. The unique thing about the Indian market is that all mediums have been growing. If you look at print overall, (newspaper and magazine advertising), it's been the slowest growing medium in India for the last few years, but it is still growing. Now, going ahead, we will see that regional print players will do better than the English national print dailies. We're seeing it already, but it will be accelerated in the future. English national print dailies will be under more pressure than before. Having said that, print will remain a strong, trusted medium."
He adds, "It's time for publishers to seriously look at digital. Now, newspapers aren't being delivered in Mumbai and people are consuming the news digitally. That's a trend we could look at in the future too. Newspapers should capitalise on that.”