By Derek Baldwin, Senior Reporter www.gulfnews.com XPRESS
Dubai: City roads are about to get a major facelift. Against the already visual noise that motorists now see, bright-coloured live hoardings will beam crystal-clear pictures through light-emitting diode screens, thereby adding colour to the roadside landscape.
XPRESS was given a sneak preview of massive orb-shaped ads that run on solar power as well as the ring-like screens wrapped around Metro footbridges.
But will these attention-grabbers, brighter than LCD screens, pose safety hazards? For the moment, authorities don’t think so.
In contrast to large billboards that offer static exposure for retail clients, giant television rings will be installed along the length of the footbridge overhanging Shaikh Zayed Road. With thousands of daily travellers on the Metro and along Shaikh Zayed Road, client exposure using the latest electric panel technology will be far-reaching.
“These are mobile audiences who adapt to new messages,” said Salim Barkett, Director of Kassab Media, the company chosen by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to oversee advertising on the Metro for the next decade.
“They understand technology, science and investment that will help them. These are people who want to be practical in life, who believe there is no need to throw away money on car transportation.” Kassab is working with SMRT and Welmark Communications to target decision makers, housewives, students and tourists.
The switch to electrically-generated advertising technology won’t stop at the Mall of the Emirates station where it will be initially installed.
The mass media triumvirate will capitalise on other newly built Metro structures to reach out to commuting consumers. The same panels will also be installed along sections of the Dubai Metro viaducts broadcasting images and text on behalf of advertisers, Barkett said. On a smaller scale, Kassab is also considering installing television screens up to 62 inches in size on the concrete pillars that support the Dubai Metro viaducts to attract passers-by on nearby roads and highways, he said.
“There are 450 pillars but we can’t use them all,” Barkett said.
Kassab is also working on 1,000 signs to be installed at all Red Line and Green Line stations to target commuters, Barkett said.
The secret to laying out a successful advertising campaign on the Dubai Metro is keeping prices reasonable, he said. “It will cost much less than what they’re [clients] are paying now,” he said.
Seasoned drivers get accustomed to roadside billboards and over time learn to focus their eyes, say experts. “You have to focus on the road,” said Brigadier Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of Dubai Police’s Traffic Department, adding he didn’t believe roadside advertising is a distraction. “If you focus on the road, you don’t care about these ads,” Al Zafein said.
Meanwhile, top Arab advertising executives are questioning whether humongous television screens on Shaikh Zayed Road are an effective means of advertising. Roy M. Haddad, Chairman and CEO of JWT Mena advertising agency, said: “Ambient advertising can be effective if utilised well but it may be pollution if it’s utilised badly.” “Moreover, advertising must be read within three seconds,” he added, noting that drivers travelling at 60km/h may not be able “to read the message in three seconds because the screen is always moving”.