Commentary

Great OOH Creative Born of Crisis, Historic Milestones

Yes, the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg evoked an outpouring of articulate, superior word-smithing from lawyers, politicians, and others. Out-of-home media designers eulogized RBG... with barely any words. 

Outront Media’s tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg ("You Can’t Spell Truth without Ruth," below), in a transit display and Clear Channel Outdoor's ("Forever Notorious," above).

In the West, responding to fires and smoke, Creative Director Matt Fitchen at Oregon-based Meadow Outdoor Advertising designed a high-contrast message with three words: "Thank You Firefighters."


Simultaneous events — fighting western fires and honoring Justice Ginsburg — showcase broader trends in out of home media:

  • Milestones and tribulation produce great out-of-home media

  • Digital technology brings immediacy to messaging; myriad RBG-tribute designs were posted nationwide quickly after the announcement of her death

  • Out-of-home creative designers are motivated by milestones and crises

“It always fills the heart when I get the chance to create something so timely,” Meadow Outdoor's Fitchen says of thanking firefighters. “Having dealt directly with the smoke, and family members being evacuated -- this art hits close to home.”


In Grand Rapids, MI, Rob Jackson of creative agency Extra Credit Projects recently published a book (“Reflect”) on memorial billboard designs spanning 20 years, honoring Betty Ford, Muhammed Ali, Kobe Bryant, Prince (above), and more.

“From my early days, I felt that the medium could be used for something more than just advertising a product or a brand. And even something beyond public service. That little something extra that would connect with viewers when they need that connection the most,” said Jackson.


The surprise, early death of acting phenom Chadwick Bozeman — who played the Black Panther, Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall — brought immediate, diverse memorial designs across the country.  

Memorial out of home media tributes rely on powerful symbols, with minimal use of words.


For two decades, the Denver-based Foundation for a Better Life has sponsored the “Pass It On” public service campaign to promote common values. Its first series of creative followed the 9/11/2001 attacks:  firefighters showing courage, determination.  

And, a poignant photo of a child with an American flag at a post-9/11 rally in Las Vegas with a one-word tagline: Unity.

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