Out of home (OOH) advertising offers a diversity of size, scale, location, and creative possibilities unmatched by any other medium, but with it comes one of the most challenging and rewarding canvases for creatives who must simplify a brand’s narrative and evoke an audience response with a single image, word, or headline. This challenge incites creativity within the medium and has driven me to dedicate my 22-year career to designing for the OOH industry.
The 81st Annual OBIE Awards are the most prestigious honor for creative excellence in OOH advertising, and it was an honor to serve as a judge. In a record-breaking year for entries, several trends stood out to me on judging day. We saw drone aerial shows, 3D anamorphic technology, holographic projections, multi-sensory street-level activations, market takeovers, hand-painted murals, and clever copywriting – all proving that our industry continues to push the creative needle and embrace innovative design.
The Resurgence of QR Codes Continues
In the OOH landscape, QR codes have become more of a staple than a trend. The trend now is how we use them in new and innovative ways.
In several campaigns, including Childhood Domestic Violence: “Change the Ending,” the experience shifts from a one-to-one interaction and becomes a one-to-many experience, which is what OOH is meant to be. Using QRAD (Quick Response AD), “Change the Ending” encouraged consumers to interact with the ad and see changes in real-time, turning attention into action.
As our industry evolves, creatives are continuously challenged to consider how brands can be positioned outside the home, and advertisers are seeking maximum impact. This doesn’t mean we must work with substantial budgets for an OOH campaign to be successful. The Coca-Cola billboard “Yes” from 1946 is a model that advertisers adhere to today because it is effective and concise: one image, one word, and one logo. The MLK tribute was one of several entries that followed this model of simplicity.
While creative is undoubtedly a vital component of a successful OOH campaign, so too is location. This year, brands used the medium with intention by selecting markets or locations to craft memorable campaigns that attracted global attention.
Following a 13-year wait, Avatar: The Way of Water reunited audiences with Pandora via an epic OOH campaign with a Niagara Falls takeover using holographic projections, custom lighting, and a 600-drone aerial show. In Times Square, 40+ screens featured creatures flowing around the bowtie for Avatar Day, a global trailer release. A global anamorphic 3D campaign covered 13 iconic locations. Disney partnered with the LA Rams to showcase their new machine learning-powered branded Snapchat lens at SoFi Stadium. A stunning caustic lighting effect on a wallscape completed the Avatar experience.
Your Options Are Infinite with OOH
OOH advertising is successful when it’s memorable. Whether that memory makes you happy, sad, or angry, creating an effective campaign requires content that connects with your audience. Our role as stakeholders should include taking what we see in this year’s OBIEs shortlist into consideration when presenting new ideas to our clients – especially when asking them to step out of their comfort zones and explore new methods of execution. Competition for consumers’ attention continues to grow, so innovative and memorable concepts are key. This year’s OBIE Awards entries inspire creative thinkers to keep thinking creatively. Everyone advertising in OOH is now held to a higher standard because of this year’s winners.
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