How CGI advertising is adding an ‘OOH’ factor to brand communication

The most mouth-watering proposition to all marketers is the ‘shock and awe’ factor of computer-generated imagery in out-of-home advertising, but If the concept is lazy, it can be an investment of not too much return, say experts

Archana Raj
Updated On
New Update
Listen to this article
0.75x 1x 1.5x
00:00 / 00:00

Delhi: We have witnessed CGI banners (computer-generated imagery) soaring above the Gateway of India for Baskin-Robbins, peacocks gracefully traversing Bandra's streets, bags floating through the avenues of Paris, and even subway trains applying mascara on social media. These campaigns showcase CGI's knack for turning ordinary products into compelling visual narratives.

CGI advertising or CGI OOH uses computer software to create visual effects that appear realistic or completely imaginary. 

“CGI is here to stay,” says Harshil Karia, founder of Schbang, adding that CGI offers multiple opportunities for brands to stay relevant in a cluttered world.

Echoing this sentiment, Abhishek Gupta, Joint Managing Director of BEI Confluence Communication, stated that the most enticing proposition for marketers is the shock and awe factor.

At first, the advertising landscape thrived on classics like billboards, and print ads with the iconic presence of the Amul Girl. Then, with the digital, we witnessed the rise of the internet and social media, followed by the emergence of AI-driven personalisation, and ultimately, CGI.

“This kind of larger-than-life CGI installation and experiential branding makes the brand stand out from the everyday advertising clutter. The grand concept, the impact, and the overall 'wow' factor make consumers notice these executions and help grab attention, especially in an age where attention spans are diminishing by the second,” Gupta added.

Giving a different perspective, Jayesh Yagnik, CEO of MOMS Outdoor Media Solutions, stated that, CGI is good to have. However, it is not a must-have. 

“Therefore brands should be cognizant of the fact that if they want to do CGI, they should invest in making creative which stands apart and becomes the talk of the town,” he said.

Highlighting creativity, Rasshi Agarwal, Founder of Megalodon. She explained that CGI enables the creation of visually stunning and imaginative content that can effectively capture a brand's essence in ways traditional media cannot.

Technological advancements, audience engagement, cost-effectiveness, flexibility, global reach, and creative freedom are a few factors that ensure the longevity of CGI campaigns in out-of-home advertising, said Yagnik.

Agarwal emphasised the importance of integrating CGI with other technologies to enhance longevity. She explained that combining CGI with technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), holographic screens, and anamorphic videos is expanding the possibilities in advertising. 

Gupta stated that, as technology accelerates and tech advertising gathers steam, there will be more and more CGI-based executions. The style & genres will keep evolving, but the use of CGI/VFX will continue to build momentum in India as well as globally.

As per Statista report, animation and VFX hold a significant market share of the media industry in India, and it was estimated to have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 35% between 2022 and 2023. In the past, many more brands have opted to include CGI in their campaigns. 

Here are a few CGI campaigns that have made a lasting impression:

The Baskin Robbins CGI ad:

According to Gupta of BEI Confluence, Baskin was one of the first movers and did it before everyone else jumped onto the bandwagon. 

“It was also refreshingly nice to see Baskin do some exciting work after quite some time,” he added

Schbang’s Karia highlighted the work for Britania, moving across the sea link, “as the most fantastical thing one would find.”

He also praised the work of Perfetti brands, particularly the tennis-themed activation for Center Fruit.

Schbang also experimented with other works with CGI. From featuring a giant Dabur Chyawanprash popping out from a billboard

Manifesting bagging the World Cup with Skybag 

A coffee cup being dropped at Gateway of India, too garnered momentum with its larger-than-life installations

Agarwal of Megalodon said that CGI has been around for decades, initially used in films and video games. Its application in advertising started gaining momentum in the early 2000s, but it has truly come into its own in the past decade. 

The trend has accelerated with advancements in computing power and graphic design software, making high-quality CGI more accessible to brands, she added.

Media reports suggest that the CGI industry is predicted to experience significant expansion in the coming years. It's estimated that CGI generates 40% more attention on social media than traditional ads, effectively capturing audience interest.

Karia stated that the top factor for CGI's longevity is design and the imaginative fantasticality it brings. He also mentioned that it's about showing consumers things they've never seen before, opening new pathways and portals.

Furthermore, CGI ads are prevalent in many online display ads, with an estimated 5.3 trillion ads appearing yearly. 

Gupta of BEI Confluence stated, “What a Creative Director could only imagine before is now so much easier to execute, even in a simple 10-second video format.”

Creative teams no longer need to create a full-fledged TV commercial or digital film to convey the brand proposition. They can conceptualise short but impactful ideas through CGI-based executions.

For example, imagine a giant Zomato Delivery Box flying through India Gate and delivering itself beside an awestruck set of consumers.

The whole idea of Zomato Home Delivery is communicated in less than 10 sec! But it all boils down to the power of thinking or creative big ideas. The better the idea, the bigger impact the execution can make honestly, he stated.

CGI has revolutionised the advertising industry by enabling brands to create attention-grabbing and memorable campaigns that leave a lasting impression on consumers, said Yagnik.

From product visualisations to elaborate CGI characters, advertisements leverage the power of CGI to engage audiences and convey brand messages in innovative ways.

Experts asserted that achieving realism, integrating concepts, optimising content, managing technical constraints, and adhering to legal and ethical standards pose significant challenges when it comes to creating CGI ads.

Gupta stated that a lot of brand teams are talking CGI right now. Everyone wants a share of the pie and how they can make their brand narrative stand out. But it often boils down to Budget and Quality. 

Highlighting the challenge, he pointed out that the concept of CGI is still nascent and does not have strong benchmarkings, and therefore budgets tend to fluctuate amongst different production teams. 

Karia underscored that if a concept is lazy the approach may yield minimal returns, while merely inserting CGI into an environment may not always be effective.

Gupta further added that during these executions, the paramount conversation is to ensure the brand world and its assets are portrayed in the right manner and no compromise happens on that. So as brand custodians, this is the most important factor. 

Looking ahead, Agarwal emphasised that the future of advertising will likely see an increased use of holographic screens and anamorphic videos. These technologies, combined with CGI, will create more immersive and engaging experiences. 

As these tools become more integrated into creative workflows, they will become staples for design and creative teams, enabling even more innovative and captivating campaigns, she concluded.