Across The Desk – Rick Robinson

2020 isn’t something to survive, it’s here to teach us how to thrive going forward.

What excites you about OOH right now?

The pressure. The shape-shift.  We’re getting pushed, poked and prodded.  It’s good for us. We are collectively facing the biggest challenge of our OOH careers.  And not everyone will make it.  That part is brutal.  Yet the upside is solid.  Fortified by our right to a place and purpose in The People’s Space.  The societal and technical trends that make OOH bullish haven’t changed.  COVID is creating short-term pain, yet our core strengths and gravitas have not left us.  If anything, we are teed up to come out stronger.  What excites me is the question of how we will endeavor forward and who will lead the way?  I want to see our venerable industry OG’s show courageous leadership and risk their comfort zones.  I also open my arms and welcome the new money and entrepreneurship coming into our space.  They have no legacy to protect and they will push us to think differently.  Same goes for the young people in this business who need to stand up and demand more of the reigns.  If there was ever an open runway it’s now.  What excites me about OOH in this moment?  The pressure – and the potential of what it will manifest.

Which recent OOH campaign inspired you?

In recent weeks and months OOH has once again proven its role as the visual voice of our cities.  OOH signals what’s happening right here and right now.  The concurrent nature of our one-to-many, highly visual, commercial public messaging at scale, is always a mirror of the times. 

What’s moved me the most is what I consider the largest unauthorized global OOH campaign in history.  The messengers came in many forms; hand-written placards, do-it-yourself wheat paste posters and quick-hit stencils.  The “clients” in this case were the people out on the streets who demanded to be heard.  Regardless of your politics it has been an undeniable demonstration of the raw power of “out-of-home media” in its natural form.    

More traditionally, a campaign from one of our healthcare brands – City of Hope – made a landmark DOOH statement to the residents of Los Angeles during the height of COVID with the headlines “City of Courage” & “City of Heroes”.  This simple reflection of purpose delivered an inspired and dramatic merger of content and context – reminding all Angelinos of our collective strength in the face of unexpected challenges.  In this case OOH literally served as a beacon of hope.




What do you envision as the next big thing for OOH?

I see a fundamental shift of mindset.  One from managing existing legacy demand to actively creating new demand. Now that our historical 4% share of the media pie is uncertain, we will be forced to play ball.  To retain and potentially grab more share, we’ll have no choice but to step up and compete with all other media.  It’s high time we hold ourselves accountable for impression guarantees, we embrace hyper-flexible contract terms and we significantly improve our understanding and application of real-time audience movements.  Our OOH bubble has burst, and we must see this as a liberation. The future is no longer about us and the old rules simply no longer apply.  They are just old.  This isn’t a cliché.  Truth is we have needed to dramatically shock the system for some time.  Now, as a result of COVID, we just might find a way to flip the switch.  In the end, 2020 isn’t something to survive, it’s here to teach us how to thrive going forward.




Modified: 2 years