Feeding from the Trough
Booze and Butts
I am frequently impressed with the caliber of people and products entering the OOH industry. Back in the 1980’s, when I got into the biz, it’s not that we didn’t have quality people, we did, but a number of our cigar-smoking OOH veterans were best described as ‘characters’.
OOH, for better or worse, was, at that time, fed from the trough of booze and butts. To be clear, I am referring to cigarette butts!
It wasn’t until 1991 that tobacco became prohibited on OOH. That was twenty years after radio and television banned tobacco ads. That lag helped our industry. Similar stellar boards that Apple might have today were often permed to cowboy creatives of The Marlboro Man. Lark and Kool cigarettes with their buddies Miller beer and BudMan were also commonly found glued to the sides of transit buses and posters lining our city streets.
Stories passed around like well-worn poker cards were the legendary tales of taking a national OOH buyer to “ride the boards” that quickly detoured into a dark smoky bar. It was, at times, a gritty business with a glimmer of greater things to come. The change has been glacial for those of us who have been around for decades. But anyone selling OOH who just thawed after decades of being frozen in that same glacier would be amazed at the innovation and professionalism of our industry today. Yes, our core inventory is still traditional. However, with the vast research and options available now, OOH is still a medium that reaches the masses, just as it did those years ago with cowboys smoking on a bulletin.