OOH Advertising Goes Alternative

Dasani water did it. Calvin Klein and Minute Maid are doing it. Discovery Channel did it for their TV show Monster Garage. Target used to do it, and is going to again for the month of December. They are OOH advertising campaigns like you’ve never seen before. Unless of course, you ride the subway.

Submedia, a 5-year-old New York based company, began selling these subterranean ads last year. The concept is similar to a flipbook. Flip the pages fast enough and the ballerina twirls around. With this ad format, flattened ads are strategically spaced out far enough on subway walls so when the subway is in motion, an animated image is seen. The ads last about 15 seconds, and can be seen from as slow as 3 mph. Each ad card is unique and encased in theft proof, vandal proof, and fireproof boxes. The first ads appeared in September 2001 in Atlanta’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) system. Philadelphia debuted the ads in October 2001, and New York’s PATH systems followed suit in June 2002.

Saul Federman, EVP, director of sales and marketing at Submedia, says this approach to advertising is appealing to brands because it is reaching consumers when they are not expecting to be reached. “You are capturing people in an environment they are not used to seeing entertainment in. It is an uncluttered environment that reaches out to consumers in a unique way,” he says.

Dasani, (a bottled water owned by Coca-Cola), was the first company to use this form of advertising in a branding campaign nationwide. Deemed a form of “Alternative Outdoor Media”, Stephen Freitas, chief marketing officer of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, says that companies are more receptive to using these new forms of advertising to reach consumers.

“Submedia provides a new and unusual outdoor media format that reaches targeted consumers in a very unique way. They are part of an emerging category called alternative outdoor media. A basic characteristic of this outdoor segment is communication that reach defined demographic audiences at very specific times in their life cycle; in this case they reach people while commuting on an urban rail system.”

That demographic audience is an estimated 1.1 million subway riders in NYC, 550,000 in Philadelphia, and 450,000 in Atlanta. Pricing for a one month stint runs anywhere from $60,000-135,000, depending on location.

Watch out for Submedia ads in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C., and MTA lines in New York in the future.

Target, who already ran a campaign with Submedia, returns in December with a month long campaign in all available areas - New York, Atlanta and Philadelphia. Freitas adds: “Alternative Outdoor Media is growing in prominence among advertisers since many brands are looking for more efficient ways to target specific consumer groups.”

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