There is a beauty in out of home (OOH) advertising that is not often discussed when planning the media. It’s the moment when a great piece of copy posted on a perfect location makes you do a double-take. This is where and when content, context, and location are fully in sync. I fondly refer to this as the Art of Pause. A consumer slows, takes notice, and reflects momentarily. OOH is uniquely qualified to deliver these moments of recognition and delight.
At its very best, a billboard is a canvas for creating branded works of art. No other media mirrors OOH’s physical size and capacity for delivering a creative message. When mixed in the proper proportions, iconic imagery and popular culture or emotional messaging can really break through the barrage of images thrust upon consumers every day.
The industry is working diligently to deliver OOH into modernity through automation, data, programmatic, and attribution. These steps provide a deeper understanding to the value the media provides and its connection and effect upon consumers. While automation and data aren’t sexy, they are important to deliver the oldest media into a new age. Though when I look back on the best OOH, the inspiring, the soul-cleansing, and the moments where I paused, I am reminded that beautiful visuals and simple, clean copy have the ability to transport us.
Consider Apple’s “Shot on iPhone 6.” At base, “Shot on iPhone 6” is an ad for one of many phones on the market today. But if you’ve seen the ads, you know it’s more. It’s a parent perfectly capturing the exact moment their baby smiles, it’s a walk that will be forever remembered, and it’s the best sunset you’ll ever see. Sure, it’s an ad for a phone but also so much more; it’s a moment in time frozen to which we can all relate. OOH can be artistic, and when it’s done right, it’s beautiful.
We should be working to make more art – the relevant, real, and uncompromising. We should be working to create messages that demand attention and don’t clutter the landscape. OOH done as art should be integral to a brand campaign; not an add-on to the marketing plan. So, shine on Chiat, Y&R, Ogilvy, Leo, JWT, and Crispin. There is a canvas anticipating your first brush stroke; make it a good one.