CEO Interview: Motion Icon, Escalator Step Branding & Innovation

The Iconic Group CEO, Marco Valente, walks through the company’s unique retail offering, what Hyper Proximity Marketing means for brands, escalator step branding and the global brand that is Motion Icon.

1.      Tell us a bit about Motion Icon and its global footprint.

Motion Icon is the pillar of The Iconic Group, providing an innovative branding solution, unique to the market – fulfilling our promise to provide the very best in Hyper Proximity Marketing solutions for brands, agencies, retailers and property owners.

Founded several years ago by a group of South Africans, the brand holds the sole global patent for branding escalator steps. We have grown exponentially over the past few years – now boasting a few international territories. It’s a great business offering driven by a team of executives around the world who have taken the passion and drive that South African entrepreneurship brings to the out-of-home industry, worldwide. 

We’ve had some fantastic business success in the past few years. In South Africa, we’ve worked with some of the most recognisable brands – across retail, airport and corporate spaces. In the UK, we are present throughout the British rail system and the London tubes. We have a presence in Dubai; in Australia – we’ve built strong retail relationships – and we’re just about to set up offices in the United States as well. 

2.      What is escalator step branding?

It’s branding the vertical portion of the escalator where all the pieces come together to turn an everyday escalator into a large, moving billboard right at the point of purchase. There are billions of escalator rides every day around the world. You’ve got to see it as an unseen, unused medium – in that we tend to advertise in a lot of spaces, online and offline, but not often close to point of purchase. 

It’s akin to taking a digital billboard and putting it right in the mall where it counts. Where people are in the buying frame of mind, people are looking for buying signals, looking for deals and specials. It’s designed to engage shoppers. In essence, we bring the billboard to the consumer while they are in that a buying space. 

3.      How can brands benefit from retail advertising?

With retail brands spending millions on advertising annually, the question is: “If the average consumer receives more than 10 000 messages daily, which message do they actually respond to – and how can you ensure that your message is the one that they respond to?”. 

Throughout our research over the years, we’ve found that people have a 9 times higher chance of responding to an ad within 25 minutes of seeing it. That’s where we come in. We take messaging and place it close to purchase proximity, where brands can remain top of mind when buying decisions are made. In essence, we offer a solution that brings real return on marketing and advertising spend for brands. 

4.      What is Hyper Proximity Marketing?

    Hyper Proximity Marketing is the last mile. It’s translating high impact messaging into rands. For Motion Icon, its dedicating over 80sqm of ad space to brands; placing visually strong content at the right place and the right time to convert shoppers into buyers. 

5.      How important is innovation in OOH advertising?

Innovation in any industry is important, but good innovation is the kind that makes a difference or delights the client. That’s the measure. We believe that our set of solutions at The Iconic Group, specifically focusing on escalator step branding – is focused on ROI. 

Escalator step branding is an innovative solution that has been well received by the market, specifically because of its impact. It’s an always-on medium, dedicated to brands. 

6.      What does success mean to you?

Success for me, is multi-faceted. The bottom line is important because we’re running a business; but just as important for us, is having a staff compliment that works well together – that is happy, motivated and actually wants to be there, seeing the bigger vision. 

Bringing people together to achieve a common goal is another real element of success. From a personal perspective, being able to go home at night knowing that not only am I building a great business, but I’m also helping people actualise their true potential. That is my personal definition of success. 

7.      What new innovations in the escalator branding space can you share? 

We’ve recently partnered with global escalator manufacturers to produce a safety solution that aims to minimise escalator-related incidents worldwide. Throughout the UK rail and retail installations – we’ve managed to decrease the number of incidents by about 80%, particularly for children and the elderly.

So it’s not just advertising, it’s also a very important safety aspect. The safety branding drastically reduces foot catching, reminds people of basic escalator safety guidelines (i.e. holding onto handrails); and provides better depth perception for the visually impaired.

Now we’re taking an unseen escalator and turning it into an impactful work of art; a moving billboard that turns escalators from a liability to an asset; an effective tool that drives brand awareness, foot traffic and retail sales. It’s a winning model for all stakeholders. 

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