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Go outdoors, extend value for ad rupee: Anil Kannambille

When Accord entered the outdoor-advertising space 17 years ago, the trade was chaotically disorganised; red tape strangulated public infrastructure; and many corporate houses dismissed crowd-concentration areas, like stations, as infra dig. Today, Accord is fêted as a distinguished leader in the specialised field of outdoor advertising. And its roster of clients reads like the Who's Who of the most happening brands: Colgate Palmolive, Croma, Hitachi, Budweiser, Raymond, Spykar Lifestyle, and many others.

Accord's growth has been powered by the self-belief and innovatory zeal of its founders, Anil Kannambille and Sudeep Ganguly. Although the challenges they face today are dramatically different from what they encountered in the early stages of the agency's evolution, their credo has remained unchanged from the beginning: "Clients are not money signs, they're friends'.

Indeed, Accord has gone from strength to strength because it has always strived to eliminate the stress that clients feel in organising promotional products. Accord deals with every outdoor-ad protocol, from settling the location for hoardings to end-client servicing.

Accord offers services at the national level for hoardings, billboards, bus-shelter advertising, train media, neon signs, frontlit and backlit vinyl displays, station advertising, signages, and sponsorship of public utilities.

In an exclusive interview with Adgully, Kannambille recounts Accord's exhilarating journey and elucidates the shape of things to come in outdoor advertising.

Adgully (AG): It has been 17 years since you set up Accord. It has been a great journey¦

Anil Kannambille (AK): It indeed has been a great journey. We picked up media properties that were not very popular. Such properties included station advertising and tram advertising. We enhanced the value by improving structures, and popularised the medium by getting reputable clients on board. We also introduced the concept of solus bus-terminal branding in Bangalore.

We did run into several roadblocks, with authorities refusing to accept our solus branding proposals. And in many cases, our proposals to improve public Infrastructure were rejected because the authorities could not amend policies that were entrenched for over six decades.

AG: What outdoor solutions do you provide today?

AK: We have been providing need-based solutions to our clients. We have constantly used innovation to stand out from the clutter. For example, we have provided solutions ranging from transit advertising, aerial advertising and balloon advertising to LED display boards. We also offer mall-advertising solutions.

AG: What is the current turnover of the company, and what has been the growth rate?

AK: We have around 50 regular clients on our media properties. We are growing at around 10 per cent.

AG: What is your expansion plan?

AK: We have secured some very good property in Kolkata. We also have on our plate south India's biggest mall, in Bangalore. We are considering opening more centres to cater to client needs.

AG: The outdoor-advertising sector is believed to be one of the most disorganised¦

AK: Yes, I do agree. But professionalism is shoring up in the sector with the entry of big corporate houses, some of which are international. We are working with some experts to monitor the illumination of hoardings from one point, and to track displays for better control.

AG: What innovations has Accord brought to the sector?

AK: Our innovations include life-size cutouts, motionisers, and clock-down timers. The schoolbus advertising in Mumbai was conceptualised by us.

AG: Are there innovation avenues that have not been explored yet?

AK: We are yet to explore air and sea for innovations. Even we are awaiting laser displays over dead walls of buildings.

AG: What is the outdoor industry's biggest challenge?

AK: Media owners need to invest more for ensuring quality in displays. Also, there should be uniformity in display sizes. And, above all, I feel it is high time all of us got together to tackle various problems the industry is facing.

AG: What is your message to the media, marketing and advertising fraternity?

AK: Go outdoors; extend your value for the advertising rupee.

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