All over the place, by Footprint Outdoor Advertising Kashif Merchant

As well as traditional OOH, Footprint Outdoor Advertising places client branding throughout venues – from named suites to signs visible from space. Kashif Merchant explains what it takes to go all-in.

By Kashif Merchant, managing partner, Footprint Outdoor Advertising

We are a marketing agency that focuses predominantly on outdoor media as well as niche media within Dubai. We represent the media assets of Topgolf Dubai, The Capital Club DIFC and major golf courses in Dubai. Our idea has always been to give clients a solution that can increase their customer engagement using traditional mediums that can easily be shared on digital platforms.

Given how the world is moving, it would be naïve to say that traditional media will not be phased out. I feel traditional assets that are more ‘connectable’ and measurable will continue to grow as they reach out to a mass audience and have the guarantee of repetition, while the ones that cannot will simply become obsolete. One of the campaigns we ran was for local bottled water brand Mai Dubai, where we branded the Topgolf Dubai outfield and ran a competition asking people to share a selfie with it. Within a span of four weeks, we had thousands of pictures being posted, which gives the brand the equity it’s looking for. Furthermore, Mai Dubai was the first brand to do such an activity and its branding is visible from the Google Maps satellite as well. Moving forward, we are even implementing software that will be able to geo-fence our assets and target customers with ads for clients who are active on those outdoor sites or in the venues.

For our venue advertising we like to see what target audience the asset relates to. Topgolf is by far the best medium to use to reach a mass market with great spending capacity, while Capital Club and the golf courses target the crème of the crowd. Once we have the audience well defined, we sit with clients and their agencies to come up with ideas, which might be out-of-the-box or might be tried-and-tested campaigns. It is also important for us to know what a brand wants out of an execution. Is it to gain equity or to have a sale on-site? We execute the activity depending on the result needed.

Brands can use these activities in various ways. We have an ongoing deal with watch brand Hublot, where they have taken over the naming rights for the chairman suite at Topgolf as well as multiple placements throughout the venue. Hublot is a mammoth of a luxury lifestyle brand and I doubt there is anyone who doesn’t recognise it, but the brand believes in the idea and the venue. It gives them an audience with their target demographic.

Branding like this is all about creating an experience. Given the fact that there have been very few such branding opportunities, it is important that the clients experience the venue to see if it fits their target audience in a long-term partnership.

We also apply our own filters to the brands that work with us. We have been fortunate enough that we have got brands that are willing to spend with us and not only believe in the venues but also in our judgment, where they know we will not propose a sponsorship to them that will not benefit the brand. Likewise, the brands that are on board with us add tremendous value to the venues as well, where customers who associate with these brands are more likely to have repeat visits.

Given the fact that every client and agency needs results that are measurable, we will start implementing software and models that provide just that. We have already started implementing this on our outdoor assets, where we can target passers-by with ads on their mobile devices, so it does connect online to offline and meets our client needs.