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“Billboards, for All My Friends!”

Once A Week, But Rarely Weakly— Especially This Week

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Once A Week, But Rarely Weakly— Especially This Week

by Nick Coston, OOH Media Buyer and Industry Agent, for now

“Billboards, for All My Friends!”

For the last 2 years, almost to the week, when that rude house guest, Mona Corona showed up at all our doors, a couple of things have been weighing heavy on the ol’ Coston household. Thing number one, and please feel free to laugh:  I had become a physically disabled individual, complete with the parking sticker that is worth more than my car.  In our family, we fight over who gets custody of the handicap placard at any given day.  My Dad’s “special needs” my daughter would whisper to her friends while I would Uber them around, probably alluding to my sense of humor more than my limp  A combination of lower back issues coupled with a nerve/muscle disease that I was told is irreversible, rendered me a gimping, bigger version of Ygor from Young Frankenstein. Sorry, Eyegor. Back surgery on Nov 2020 took care of a a lot of issues, I could stand up straight and most of the pain went away. But the stability problems remained and eventually grew worse. As one of the many neurologists I saw cracked “you lost all this weight and now you can’t walk, that must suck”.

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Indeed it did, Dr. Congeniality, it sucked big time, and you win line of the year. At least something funny came out of this.

Thing number 2: go back another 11 months with the onset of a once-in-a- lifetime pandemic, the OOH industry took a nosedive. We were forced to work from our bathrooms while wearing non matching, ill-fitting sweats. The company I worked for already had suffered some hefty media buy budget cuts, some markets we were buying in were offloaded to another agency, then came Covid. By the end of 2021, I was out, looking for new clients.

After two years of multiple doctor visits, weekly physical therapy, we became such good friends that I would bring the therapist Greek dishes I had cooked the night before, pain shots, steroids and occasional hits of Knob Creek, I thought this may be as good as it gets. I’m always going to slog along, “hey wait up for Nick” I’d shout. I was that guy who spoke in the 3rd person.

But through a series of fortunate, quickly timed events, my world changed again. So here it goes.

Addressing Thing Number 2, it was obvious I was headed towards a head on, dead-end, as when James Bond crashes into that big mirror while being car chased in Goldfinger, as static buys were slowing down. As projected 7 years earlier by my friend Andy at OUTFRONT, “you know your job will be obsolete someday. Here have a cold beer.” Thanks Andy.

Andy was right, just a few years late. Programmatic digital OOH was making its move and I was running out of traditional clients and ideas.

Back to Thing 1 and my hobbling ways. A completely random phone conversation with a guy I hardly knew, he and I met while working on a freelance project, told me about a relatively new muscle therapy program called MAT. Muscle Activation Technique. As we spoke during a rambling conversation about our industry “by the way, you should look into this it’ll definitely help you. Professional athletes use this to fix a lot of their injuries.” 

Keep in mind the guy I was talking to I still have never met in person. I definitely owe him.

Back to what Andy said. Not only did I change around the way I was dealing with a disability but I also had a spectacular opportunity to make that pivot, a 180° angle move into the programmatic world. This too was the result of a chance, happenstance run-in during Digital Signage Week NYC this past October. A longtime client of AdMobilize, one of my original consulting clients, was waiting for an event to begin. Although he looked someone familiar, it was hard to tell since we were masked up. A NYC Covid story. We realized we knew each other and began a pleasant conversation that lasted over three months.

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He owns and runs the company I am now going to work with.

As you’ll find out in the next few days, I’ve taken a position as the US Sales Director for this very successful, talented programmatic agency.

It’s a quick transition to a new dimension of my somewhat staid career path. I get to assist newer, smaller to medium size clients to get in the OOH game, regardless of budget, they can be on digital screens anywhere in the country. It’s not just for the big players anymore which is where I came from. Late in my media career it’s exciting to have a chance to contribute to the evolution of traditional buying. Enabling anyone with a budget to have their ad run on what we still consider to be billboards in some form, that’s exciting.

As Mickey Rourke shouted in the film Barfly, “billboards for all my friends!”

He didn’t exactly say it that way but it was pretty close. You get my point.

As for my mobility, it has greatly improved in only a month. At the least, I’m now confident that I won’t wipe out a whole aisle of grocery store shoppers or fall down while giving someone a hug. That did happen. Just ask Andrea Henley at the 2019 DPAA when I came close to a flying tackle while losing my balance leaning in for a hug. A pre Covid-hug mind you. “Well, that was unexpected,” Andrea would say politely.

You’ll still be able to find me right here every Wednesday in OOH Today. I’ll also always be available to mentor anyone in our industry. Although this is a big move, in reality I just moved up a few notches and learned some cool, new tricks.

While I’m no hero, it’s never too late to learn how to walk and it’s never too late to learn a new craft. Sometimes the simple things in life are the best.

And as always, it comes back to billboards being the catalyst. 

But we all knew that, right?

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