Amidst a global pandemic, extreme social unrest and battered economies, 2020 has proven to be anything but normal.
The economic fallout has been cruel, with some sectors and businesses being hit harder than others. Particularly travel & tourism, hospitality and high street retail.
COVID-19 for better or for worse, has been a catalyst for change. The lockdown has forced many things on society, and in response, we have altered our behavior to adapt. One of these behaviors being the digital acceleration that has taken place in all of our lives.
One positive to arise from this unprecedented upheaval is that shared experiences have brought us closer together, even while we have been physically apart. Working from home will undoubtedly become popular, and appreciation of home life has meant more working-age consumers have spent time in their local communities. This has strengthened our community spirit and given a new importance to the idea of local messaging—what we see and experience in our hometown hub has greater resonance.
In today’s high-tech, mobile-driven world, the oldest form of out of home information exchange, the poster, has a window of opportunity to become the medium of the future. Think of OOH as a community bulletin board that will become a more powerful tool as the streets begin again to brim with life.
Local activation has the power to create real human value and be a vital information communicator. We, as communicators, now have this absolutely beautiful opportunity on the streets to have a conversation and to create value. This presents an amazing opportunity for emotionally intelligent brands to change and evolve in this new experience era.
You can’t ignore brilliant out of home. You can’t block it or shut it off. You can share it. You can provide an experience. There’s a beauty and power in posters and other OOH platforms that other channels cannot offer.
OOH doesn’t speak to people, it speaks with them. The finest out of home communication has real experiential value at the time that it’s consumed rather than just dispensing a message. OOH doesn’t make people empty, short-term promises. It encourages authentic, emotional, long-term relationships between brands and the people who use them. Ultimately, it adds something to people’s lives.
The best work transcends advertising and creates something far more valuable for people. Visionary brands understand that.
Great brands have an unmistakable brand identity. They capture the human spirit. They are delightfully simple in their approach. They grab people by the eyeballs, stop them in their tracks and reward them for their time and intelligence.
The finest out of home activations work because they display originality, a clear idea, lateral thinking and skill in execution. A fine example is the Burger King Moldy Whopper campaign.
Fast food brands are all doing a similar job when it comes to showing real and fresh products. Beautiful burgers from over-produced photographs. People find it hard to believe that these products are actually real and free from artificial ingredients.
To break the mold –– and against all industry aesthetic practices –– Burger King decided to depict the chain’s signature Whopper sandwich rotting throughout a 34 day-period. The brand created a simple and clear message that demonstrated their food had removed all artificial preservatives. A simple product demonstration that drove a 14% sales increase and worldwide attention for the brand.
Today, OOH advertising is more powerful than ever. It is one of the purest forms of communication that can transform business and impact society. A poster, whether on a billboard or a kiosk or on public transit, is a creative canvas that calls for distillation and pure reduction. It demands potent graphic language and pure simplicity. It has the power to create visual drama that results in maximum meaning using minimum means.
Out of home advertising presents infinite possibilities to create “Theatre of the Streets.” Think of the streets as your stage and your goal is to earn a standing ovation.
A wonderful example of this is the new PlayStation 5 launch in the UK. Sony partnered with Transport for London to take over the Oxford Circus Tube station to celebrate the launch of the new PS5 console. This idea played right into the hearts and minds of gamers who love their brand. The Tube station was emblazoned with the iconic PlayStation symbols in a 48-hour creative unmissable event. For two days, the classic British Underground Roundel was reimagined to feature the four iconic PlayStation shapes: triangle, circle, X and square. As well as transforming the roundels, the partnership saw PlayStation appearing in the station’s tunnels, platforms, street entrances and exits. This is the kind of playfulness gamers love.
In this age of instant transmission and advanced technology, it is perhaps surprising that the oldest and purest form of communication continues to flourish as a primary and valuable form of communication. But this dynamic, exciting exterior medium remains as powerful as ever.
The new OOH communications landscape offers an “infinite borderless creative canvas” for marketers and agencies to think and act in a different way.
Instinct, alchemy, entrepreneurial thinking and human connection will win the creative future. Our ability to create fresh, original, disruptive, transformative ideas will become indispensable – and will be the gateway to future OBIE Awards, which celebrate the best in OOH advertising. Creativity and innovation are key if businesses are to adapt and prosper in 2021. It’s time to embrace out of home for all of its creativity, power and potential –– the medium of the future.
Tutssel is currently Creative Ambassador To The Out Of Home Advertising Association of America.