I have always been a fan of Outdoor advertising – it’s the simplicity of the medium, no more than six words and a stunning image. Monument to your brand stuff I think it would be fair to say. The big multinational brands believed that if your TV concept worked as a 48 sheet it was always going to be a great TV ad.
You can call me old – well I have had a couple of lives (agencies) throughout my career – but I come from a time when certain brands treated Outdoor with as much reverence as they treated their TV commercials. Creativity flourished as food, beverage and cars brands all tried to outdo each other with producing the wry little smile that gave rise to such memorable posters as “Perfect for Barbies” – just three words for a headline and a photo revealing a small part of the Heineken logo. I wouldn’t want to embarrass you by spelling out which small part but anyone who thinks Ross O’Carroll Kelly came up with the short hand version for a pint of Heineken can think again! The campaign was subsequently pulled as there was literally none left on the shelves of your local off licence that summer. Thirsty work this creativity. Okay so we also had a heatwave as well!
Aiding and abetting the creativity were the Outdoor pioneers, a motley crew of people who wanted to prove there was more to their medium than buckets of paste, paper and ladders. Day in, day out they were beating a track to media planners with wondrous concepts as wrapped buses and 3D 48 Sheets. The media department became as creative as… well the creative department.
Outdoor was a king and the awards night was one of the best nights of the advertising calendar. Rumour has it that one MD, knowing his agency was about to be fired, walked straight from one awards session the next morning with an armful of awards and dared the client to fire them now!
But then the internet, digital and social media came along and our heads got turned. Whatever chance broadcast and print had with their digital add-ons, my beloved static medium didn’t stand a chance. Particularly now as I was stuck into my smart phone as I walked past it.
And so the Outdoor industry was confined to those backwater roads that we now can’t remember as we speed down to Cork in two hours. But they are a resilient bunch these outdoor pioneers. Much maligned and misunderstood – rather than curse and bitch about the arrival of a new channel to the consumer – they have press ganged all this new media into working for them to provide a greatly enhanced service.
Yes the old sites are still there but they are now screens in many different sizes, shapes, designs and locations. Witness the new site in Ballsbridge by the American Embassy a thing of beauty for us Outdoor aficionados.
Now thanks to Outdoor, I walk down the street and a poster tells me I need an ice cream because the temperature has risen to above 17 degrees, but please not when I am out with the kids. An enforced trip to Dundrum is no longer hell on earth. My wife is availing of offers thanks to geo-fencing, whilst the kids are involved in a massive Cadburys Crème Egg treasure hunt thanks to clues posted on a dPod. And me, why hanging with my new friends – a Saturday afternoon playing FIFA 18 in the man crèche or buying cinema tickets by simply pointing my phone at a poster.
As a result impressions, unique impressions and CTR’s are as important as recall and awareness. Outdoor, more than any other medium has embraced and worked with the new technology to bring brands, according to Mr Coke “within arms-reach of desire”.
With this renaissance has come a renewed interest from our clients – in the past year we have worked with the HSE, Savvi, Maynooth, Flow and the National Dairy Council to create everything from traditional posters to DOOH and even a pop up milk shop as part of our Complete Natural campaign.
To you Outdoor pioneers I doff my cap. Now if only you could bring Leeds United back to the Premiership?
PS: Thanks to my friends in PML for bringing these words to life.