by Charmaine Moldrich,
CEO of the Outdoor Media Association (OMA)
Out and about is where we want to be
Our greatest strength is often our greatest challenge. That rings true for the Outdoor industry, particularly in these days of physical isolation. We are an always-on medium and a broadcaster to the masses. And when those masses moved indoors, our signs went (theoretically) silent.
I am reminded of the question … if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?
There is a scientific and a philosophical answer to that question: one deals with observation, and one with perception.
The perception is that we are all staying at home, but the observation is different. Nine out of ten people left home every day before the pandemic. During the pandemic it is more like six out of ten people leaving home and they’re making very different trips, hyper local trips. In this COVID world our signs are narrow-casting to a variety of audiences who are traversing shorter distances, usually by foot, to exercise, to shop, and to work, from home.
Our lives in COVID-19 have added a new dimension to the word ‘home’. The introverts among us may be enjoying not having to interact, but most of us are also craving the freedom to move about and enjoy our cities and public spaces. Travel has become functional and essential, not the playground of choice it once was.
All this is making us realize that the outside world is as much our home as the place where we lay our heads at night. We look with optimism to a time when we can go back to being social and being outside.
During this time of COVID we have embraced the notion that society is more important than the individual or, in fact, the economy. For me, this has been heartening and reassuring, as we collectively made the social contract to self-isolate, to protect the most vulnerable in our community. We are all in this together.
In Australia, our shared value ‘to muck in and help’ has meant that we have well and truly flattened that curve. Which means the next hurdle is the gradual re-entry back to life as we knew it.
The threat has not abated. We are still vulnerable, but no one knows how much yet. If history is our guide, then it was the second wave of Spanish Influenza that killed an estimated 30 million of the 50 million who died during that pandemic one hundred years ago. What is different today is better medicine and technology to back us.
Yes, I will be downloading COVIDSafe app. It is not a salvation– that will come in the form of a vaccine. But, combined with vigilance, hand washing, and testing, it is one of the tools that will help us return to a life of movement, travel, and being outside to function, to have fun, to re-ignite the economy, to embrace all that life has to offer.
When we started the #stayathome journey seven weeks ago, we did not know how long we would be here. We now know that we are about to embark on the next stage of our COVID journey.
The COVIDSafe app is one of our guiding lights. I encourage you to download it. Let technology do what technology does best: help us as humans lead more productive and enjoyable lives.
I look forward to seeing you all again in the real world, walking, driving, cycling, public transporting, and scootering through the hustle and bustle in and among our Outdoor advertising signs … at a safe distance.
T: 0407 418 273
Charmaine Moldrich is the CEO of the Outdoor Media Association (OMA), the peak body for the Out of Home (OOH) advertising industry in Australia.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed belong solely to the author, and not necessarily OOH Today.