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Storyboard18 | Why are Indian brands advertising in NYC's Times Square?

Indian companies are putting up ads in Times Square, shelling out up to $50,000 for a day’s inventory. We find out why.

August 04, 2022 / 04:05 PM IST
There are 238 billboards on the square. On an average, nearly 380,000 pedestrians enter Times Square, and another 115,000 drivers/passengers pass through in cars and buses each day. But the real reach is when a photo of your ad in Times Square spreads across the world through social media.

There are 238 billboards on the square. On an average, nearly 380,000 pedestrians enter Times Square, and another 115,000 drivers/passengers pass through in cars and buses each day. But the real reach is when a photo of your ad in Times Square spreads across the world through social media.

Indian brands are making their way to New York City’s Times Square through big outdoor advertising. As more and more Indian businesses eye global expansion, they are landing ads in Times Square as part of their multi-channel marketing strategy.

Brands like Laxmi, Pepper Content, Chingari, Mohun Bagan Football Club, ICICI Prudential, Classplus and many others have advertised in what many consider the mecca of global advertising.

Why does Times Square make sense?

“The chance of your brand not getting noticed is minimal to none at Times Square. The space primarily helps in building brand awareness, brand recognition and repetition. The more brands are in front of you, the better you will remember them. This results in brand trust, emotional connect, craft differentiation, and further build premiumness,” says Imtiyaz Vilatra, Country Head, Posterscope India. Posterscope has helped a lot of Indian brands like ICICI Prudential and others advertise on premium Times Square spots.

There are 238 billboards on the square. On an average, nearly 380,000 pedestrians enter Times Square, while another 115,000 drivers/passengers pass through in cars and buses each day. But the real reach is when a photo of your ad in Times Square spreads across the world through social media.

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Explaining the value proposition of the inventory, Vilatra says Times Square signage advertising can expect nearly 1.5 million impressions each day.

“On the busiest days, Times Square sees pedestrian counts of over 460,000 people. With those tourists, typically snapping photos and selfies for social media, which means that your ad will experience a significant amount of additional impressions beyond the eyeballs of Times Square,” Vilatra adds.

How much does it cost to advertise on Times Square?

The cost to advertise in Times Square depends on a host of factors. Just like anywhere else the money charged for a spot depends on the media format, the size of the inventory (billboard), the exact location and visibility of the ad and of course the duration of the campaign.

Advertising here can cost $5,000-50,000 a day. Which is anywhere between Rs3.9 lakh and Rs40 lakh approximately. While, there is no match in the visibility and the x-factor of a Times Square billboard for comparison sake in India, typically the rates for DOOH (Digital Out of Home) rates start at about Rs5000 a month in rural areas and can go up to Rs20 lakh for the same period for inventories in busy urban streets with maximum visibility.

Elaborating on the value proposition Rajesh Radhakrishnan, Founder and CMO at outdoor advertising agency Vritti Solutions, says, “Digital is all about controls. Data Analytics can be used to capture data of the number of people who have passed before the ad, the number of people who have actually seen the ad, and co-relate sales of products with the number of people noticing the ads. Brands can engage with the audience by creating content that encourages them to instantly respond.”

Which Indian brands are advertising on Times Square?

Five-year-old content marketplace Pepper Content ramped up its Series A funding celebration with a Times Square splash. Just last month, the brand was on the NASDAQ Tower for a day where it announced the funding news along with images of its content creators.

“It was more of an initiative to build up an aspirational brand value for us," Anirudh Singhla, co-founder and CEO of Pepper Content, tells Storyboard18. "We are a young team and this was just an initiative to give all our stakeholders a loud cheer."

Last month, Pepper Content was on the NASDAQ Tower for a day where it announced the funding news along with images of its content creators. The NASDAQ Tower in New York City.

Experts suggest it makes sense for brands that are targeting a global reach or trying to break grounds outside of the Indian mainland or targeting the Indian diaspora in the west to take up space at Times Square.

Radhakrishnan says tourism as a sector can capitalize on the Times Square inventory the most. “Companies such as ITDC or state tourism companies such as Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat, West Bengal, etc., can take advantage of the global targeting the inventory offers. This apart, other key sectors that could take advantage of this targeting include Indian foods companies, BFSI companies Stock Exchanges and Mutual Funds, leading Hospitals for medical tourism and Indian hotels and restaurants planning to open in the US.” he says.

Talking of targeting, Laxmi for instance, which is a South Asian food brand in the USA took to Times Square as a part of their Diwali campaign to reach out to their primary audience during the Indian festive period and also featured their brand ambassador Shilpa Shetty in the ad for maximum impact.

Most brands use Times Square as an extension of their ongoing campaigns to amplify the messaging. Just like short-video sharing social media app Chingari was featured on Times Square as a part of their NFT conference programme.

Deepak Salvi, Cofounder and COO Chingari, says Times Square offers a unique experience that adds on to the brand’s credibility and recall.

“The campaign ran for 2-3 days and we witnessed major downloads in the US market during the campaign and even after it. People took notice of us as ‘product of India’ and we got calls asking us about our offerings. More than anything it was like a showcase opportunity for us,” Salvi says.

Some Indian brands also take their celebrations to Times Square. Classplus, an ed tech start up took to Times Square as a part of their four-year anniversary celebration campaign. Then ICICI Prudential got the NASDAQ billboard in October 2021 to felicitate and recognize their star performers in the most unique way.

Posterscope India helped to create a brand experience for the winners at NASDAQ Tower.

“A perfect execution helped the brand connect with global business leaders and ensured that our content reaches the right audience. After 14 days of campaign rollout, our idea and understanding of the brief have been in sync with what we wanted to communicate and create iconicity,” says Vilatra.

According to Vilatra, a spot at Times Square is a way of making a statement, an opportunity to share a belief or ideology, and just one of the channels in the wheel of a wider PR campaign.
Tasmayee Laha Roy is Assistant Editor of Storyboard18. Storyboard18 is Network18's flagship platform focused on the advertising & marketing community and a leading source of news and analyses on the business of brands.
first published: Aug 4, 2022 04:05 pm
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