Table talk

Roopesh Bhatnagar of NPA on the changes in the advertising and media sectors

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A barrage of radio channels, popular brands and free newspapers has definitely led to a surge in advertising, both print and outdoor. If one takes a step back and analyses the situation, one will notice that the advertising and media sectors have come a long way in Oman. And most ad men will vouch that this is a good time to be in business.
Roopesh Bhatnagar, general manager, NPA, has seen that transformation having been a part of the advertising fraternity for many years now. Advertising in Oman has a come a long way from where it was.
Still, a lot is lacking. Until recently, advertising was not so much about the brand. It was more about getting the cash registers ringing. The industry is now coming of age." One major catalyst has been the arrival of more clients and brands. But the level of maturity and sophistication in the tools to disseminate information are still lacking. "What is needed is higher levels of creativity and larger levels of channels of integrated communication. For example, not many have even heard of Web 2.0. We've been lucky in the last few months to see a few radio channels. These are things that are up and coming."
The clients' approach to advertising is also witnessing a shift. "Earlier you had departments which were not necessarily marketing or brand related, and run by people with little or no exposure to marketing communication. Now we have people who know their stuff handling advertising. This has raised the bar and you'll notice that the agencies' work is also improving."
There is certainly no doubt that the creatives are talked about now more than ever before, but elements like humour and slice of life, both of which are big elements in advertising elsewhere, are missing. "Slice of life is limited to showing a person in the ad, but not in context. As for humour, we see none of it here. So much more can be done. The agencies are capable of a lot more but these do not get executed due to market pressures. We must remember that the client is not the consumer and we need to relate to the consumer."
There is a perceptible change in the ad scene. Earlier there were four or five agencies that had their share of clients in various categories. But in the last two years a few agencies of repute have set up shop here. They have shaken up things a bit and are pushing the creative envelope a bit further, challenging the existing agencies. "You can't rely on old, hackneyed formula to work all the time. If we don't move with the times, we'll probably remain where we are."
NPA is also seriously looking at joining hands with an international partner. According to Bhatnagar, the tie-ups some Omani agencies have forged with international names do not reflect in their creative work. "We are in discussions with partners. The tie-up will not be for namesake and we will make sure that our business interests are mutually aligned. You will definitely hear something from us this year."

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Table talk
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