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The Invaluable Contribution of Venus Navalta to the OOH Media Industry

I am still reeling from the shock of Venus Navalta's sudden departure from this earthly life.  As we have heard it through social media, IPG Mediabrands CEO in the Philippines, Venus Navalta, passed on to the next life last July 31, 2021.

Her passing has undoubtedly shaken the media marketing industry as a whole, very much including the field of Out-of-Home media.  Personally, the shaking must have been so deep that I was not able to come to grips with writing a piece on her passing that week when she lay in state.

As it was, Venus was a solid believer in the power of Out-of-Home Media.  To the industry of outdoor advertising, she was not just an advocate, she was an ally.

Her contribution to the OOH industry is invaluable such that she was the one who pioneered agency-managed OOH media holdings.  Venus blazed the trail by setting up an in-house OOH media unit within UniversalMcCann during the early days of UM's formation in the year 2000.  For this, she sought out a partner company in the APAC region who could provide tools and streamline processes for outdoor advertising implementations of McCann.  The answer was found in the group of Poster Publicity, then headed by Ron Graham in Singapore.

From there, McCann became a formidable buyer of OOH having under its auspices, the total OOH inventory of Nestle, Globe, Coke (all brands under TCCEC), Johnson and Johnson, Mastercard, Cathay Pacific, and all other McCann clients we as UM could lay our hands on.

During this time of birthpains, there were a lot of conflicts which arose.  Naturally, the suppliers' side could not immediately take all the new parameters set forth by the agency in order to regulate the common problems encountered by clients and agencies when it came to timeliness of implementation, compliance of illumination, billing procedures, and more.  But Venus knew how to manage these all.  The charm of Venus could easily arrest the irate feelings by key people from the vendor side, assuring the industry organization that vendors will get paid as long as the new system of check and balances implemented for the client's peace of mind are followed.


From then on, Venus had always become a visible ally of the industry organization, the OAAP which is now known as OHAAP.  She would always have time to lend her insights at the speakers' podium in the conferences of the OAAP.  She even went all the way to Davao to attend the OAAP Summit in 2015, sharing new directions on where OOH may be in the years to come.

Over the past year and a quarter, during the pandemic, I have been posting on my blog (and on my Facebook wall), a lot of the OOH firsts done here in the Philippines.   These were executed during my brief time with UM and under the leadership of Venus.

Time and again, through these posts, I would acknowledge Venus' thought leadership in this arena.  And yes, time and again, she would acknowledge these "OOH firsts" with a like, a heart, or even a simple and succinct comment like, "Contextual messaging, we were way ahead!!!".

For this, I am happy that while none of us saw what was coming in terms of Venus having her health challenged this year, I was not late in letting her know that the "OOH Firsts" by UM are still remembered.

And even after Venus' passing, she still leaves something for the OOH industry. Last December, Venus messaged me to set a discussion via Zoom with OHAAP Chairman Alex Montanez in order to come up with an OOH Effectiveness Research which would help the industry have the critical numbers to present to the clients wanting to know the effectiveness of outdoor media.

It is sad that Venus will not see this anymore, nevertheless, this is her gift to us as we pursue this in the coming months with in collaboration with the UM Team.

In Venus' last work-related post on Facebook, she had this to say,

Her final work-related story was still related to OOH! 

Oh dear Venus, you have been such a friend to this industry.  Your thought leadership is so invaluable.  Truly, like our medium, you are Spectacular, Scintillating like an LED on EDSA, towering above all, definitely Larger than Life!

The writer, Lloyd Tronco, is an Out-Of-Home Media Strategist.  He is a constant subject matter expert on Out-Of-Home Media and Digital Signage.  He is also the industry journalist for OOH in the Philippines.  He was handpicked by Venus to be part of the UM pioneering OOH team in 2001.

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