Rodeo! With Valens in the driver’s seat

rodeo malaysia valens raihan marketing asia

By Raihan Hadi

Howdy fellas! I’m going to take y’all on a rodeo this week, not the kind on horses though, I have no intention of hurting your crotches.

The rodeo I’m talking about is something else, and by the end of my conversation today with Valens Subramaniam, Founder of Rodeo, you’ll thank me for giving you an amazing ride.

Rodeo is a specialised transit advertising company that’s taking advertisers in Malaysia on a crazy adventure with the latest and best of tech in Out Of Home advertising, and without further ado, we’ll jump right into it!

Can we begin with stuff that we don’t know about you yet?

When I was in primary school, I got caned by my math teacher who failed to believe that I have 12 fingers until I showed them to her. Yes, I have 2 extra fingers which makes me unique and special.

That was then I told myself, believe in yourself and let actions speak louder than words in order to make people believe what you are and have achieved.

Prior to forming Rodeo, I was in Taxi Advertising at iCab. We executed numerous campaigns from private to government brands such as SPRM, KKM, KPDNHQ, KFC, MBF, and IQI among others. I moved away from the taxi scene after a while due to its initial negative image in the industry.

What made you come back?

When demand for ride-sharing started increasing rapidly, I realized it was a huge “missed opportunity” for us to canvas private vehicles with ads when knowing each car contributes huge moving impressions with the long number of hours spent on the road. And they’re real impressions, not the work of “internet bots”.

Moreover, brands can leverage our media towards their audience as it’s always on the move, visible by a bigger bunch of people across various locations.

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Why call it Rodeo?

I’ve always believed in creating a character which connects to the emotional elements within a brand, and that is the fundamental for naming the start-up Rodeo.

Rodeo is a Spanish word which means ‘go around’ which the Americans adopted as the name for their sport. If you look at the Rodeo players, they are very persistent, strong, raw, patient and focused.

These characteristics perfectly reflect that of the company and myself.

Each character of Rodeo has its own soul – R for Rebellious, O for Out-of-the-box, D for Dynamic, E for Efficient and last O is simply for OMG. OMG? Yes, we execute every campaign in style – from ideation to deployment, which creates the WOW factor and turns heads.

Awesome! Who do you draw your inspirations from?

For sure my late dad! He was a DBKL gardener but sponsored my degree in Architecture and my 4 years stay in England. He is the man who taught me the true meaning of hard work, to always keep learning, be persistent, appreciate and value every single cent that we earn.

I have grown to what I am today by learning from my dad, the only superhero of my life. My dad had a different personality, one that easily inspired anyone. I loved his values and his positive attitude. He was always concerned about our academics, health and happiness. He worked every single day of his life without breaks, always came back home with bruises in his hands and legs, only so he could earn more in order to keep the family going.

Having said that, I am a “kampung boy” from Ayer Panas, Setapak which allows me to understand the meaning of hardship.

And what about your teammates? Must be quite a bunch!

Before telling you about my team, I must talk a bit about my Core-Founder (joking). Vaani, the Co-Founder of Rodeo, is my life partner as well.

Besides being a respectful and dedicated wife, she is super sharp on whatever she does and at Rodeo she manages finance and HR. She’s always got my back in whatever I do, sort of like the backbone and the prime motivator who directly contributes to everything I fight for and deliver at work and life.

As for my teammates, there’s Joyce Chin and Thiyagu, who have been with me since the beginning when Rodeo only had a team of 5. We’ve grown to a super devoted bunch of 14 now, and each and every member is dedicated to the point where I can reach out to any of them even during public holidays.

In the end, it is about the culture of the company, in our case it’s the unity and family-like orientation that are the fundamentals in bringing us together. Each of us walk in the same direction, you can see the result from our success. Best part of it all, I do not just create runways but I make sure to be part of the journey and get my hands dirty with my team whenever needed and lead them to greater heights.

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Why should I advertise with Rodeo?

Well firstly, whether you like it or not, you need to hit the road to travel from Point A to Point B. Unless you wish to travel via drones (which might happen soon), and by then, Rodeo will be on drones as well.

Therefore, you won’t miss seeing ads on vehicles, and you can’t skip the ads either, unlike digital platforms on handheld devices where you always look for that “skip” button. We are here to disrupt every asset that commuters use every day.

To add, based on a Nielsen 2019 report, Wrapped Vehicles contribute 64% brand recall compared to other OOH media.

Secondly, our chosen medium reaches out to the masses, considering the number of hours spent on the road – from a branding perspective, that’s a huge plus point.

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We can also execute a campaign based on geo-targeting by activating “swarming” using ride-sharing cars and food delivery bikes. Share of Voice (SOV) is also doable especially using the Rodeo DOOH. Advertisers have the flexibility to opt for brand push, engagement push or even tactical.

Thirdly, when advertising with Rodeo on cars, advertisers can audit and validate their campaigns.

Last but not least, we make sure you put your money where your mouth is because we believe in the transparency model as we provide a comprehensive report to advertisers by submitting pre and post campaign reports. For instance, if a client engages 100 cars, even if a car is missing from the network, we will do a credit note and we will provide a minimum guarantee on each car to achieve 1,500km per month. Then, we can validate that via our self-service telemetrics dashboard.

What if I’m just selling fish and want to advertise?

If you are selling fish, we can bring your ‘fish’ to reality in the form of 3D and “fish” your customers with stunning visual effects. This is a similar scenario which happened to AirAsia, where they requested for typical livery ads on cars but what the end product turned out was a Myvi depicting a mini-plane where we fabricated 3D fins, turbines and mini wings attached to it.

This execution went viral in social media and not to forget, Tan Sri Tony himself didn’t want to miss out this opportunity and took a selfie with the mini-plane Myvi. We are creating campaigns that are social media materials which bring Offline to Online.

But this is only for cars or multiple types of vehicles?

We have a few formats now with Rodeo as we offer to advertise on cars, trucks, motorcycles and even in elevators. We’ve even had experience executing a campaign using bicycles for SWATCH, parading streets with neon outfits.

In our latest exploration, we have partnered with foodpanda to monetise their delivery bags with advertisements where brands can now execute a geo~targeting campaign on offline media.

As for elevators, we have more than 100 condos in our clientele within Klang Valley. We have created a journey and connectivity between these formats.

If brands wish to go fancy, they can opt for Rodeo DOOH where we have screens on Car Roofs to play digital formats such as live streaming, live updates, geo-targeting or even zone of time sensitive ads.

When it comes to DOOH, we are creating a digital network and working on introducing our own proprietary IoT (Internet of Things) that offers live campaign measurements for our DOOH as well as our Offline format which provides metric gauge impressions in real-time.

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myrodeo interface

Let’s put a cherry on top of that Rodeo cake shall we?

Cherry? Firstly, every campaign is treated like a diamond, and executed in style keeping details intact. We are strong believers of execution and not merely on ideas.

Hence, every campaign will have different flavours as we put our hearts and souls to it. Transparency is one thing we embedded into our business. Advertisers are given full access to our dashboard to monitor their campaigns in real-time. That makes us unique and we treat clients as our partners and manage each campaign accordingly.

Not to forget, we are an independent start-up where we can disrupt ride-sharing providers and complement them at the sametime. For instance, we recently executed a foodpanda campaign on a leading ride-sharing car. To date, we have used more than 5,000 cars with ads and would have contributed more than 2 million ringgits to the gig-economy. We are taking the driver’s seat to help these gig economy drivers to earn additional income.

This piece was the cover story for MARKETING WEEKENDER Issue 332

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