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Is Dead, Dated Copy Disrespectful to the OOH Industry? About that Bumper to Bumper Boondoggle

A Billboard Photo Can Provide Many Insights About a Market

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Bumper to Bumper Boondoggle 

Detroit, Michigan. Friday, May 22.  There was bumper to bumper traffic for two miles on westbound Interstate-94 near the Interstate-75/Interstate-94 interchange.  As the photo above shows, it is very impressive and perhaps an indicator traffic is up and OOH impressions returning to near normal levels.

But is it? “The photo is misleading in the fact that the traffic back up was caused by an accident and the resulting gawker slowdown.”  The OOH sales person who shared this has requested anonymity. 

Her point: Traffic is very ‘patchy’ in its return in the state’s largest Metro and during no time in her daily travels throughout the market place has she witnessed any bumper to bumper backups unless there was an accident on the road ahead. Understanding the point, we would suggest some degree of traffic has returned or there would no traffic to back up. 

The sales person’s frustration lies in the irrational exuberance by some OOH companies and organizations declaring traffic up and therefore the Industry’s return to normal is near. See OOH Today’s ‘Bumper to Bumper Traffic in San Francisco!’ And yes, OOH Today would be guilty in its occasional optimism despite that clearly there is a great deal of uncertainty in the market place. We appreciate the other view point. 

Our anonymous salesperson continues to question the wisdom in leaving ‘dead dated copy’ on the streets. See her comments below.


Is Dead, Dated Copy Disrespectful to the OOH Industry?

“Of more significance to me is the beautiful 20′ x 80′ bulletin in this photo advertising the Rolling Stones concert that was scheduled for June 10 at Comerica Park.  This concert was postponed due to COVID-19 on March 17.  In other words, more than two months after the show was cancelled, OUTFRONT is still running this copy.  What’s up with that?  I’m 99.9% sure the advertiser was issued a credit for this space when the concert was postponed. 

To make matters worse, OUTFRONT has copy advertising Mayor Pete, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer on another over-sized bulletin that is 500′ east of the Rolling Stones billboard.  The Michigan presidential primary was March 10th and Mayor Pete, Klobuchar, and Steyer had all dropped out of the race prior to the primary!

This is really outrageous and shows a complete lack of respect for the Out of Home industry.  How can a billboard company tout that “things are returning to normal” when they can’t sell their “A+” inventory more than two months after the copy as expired?  If they can’t sell the space, why not give this quality space to a worthwhile public service advertiser?  I’m embarrassed for them.”

Are the examples mentioned above an outrageous lack of respect for the Out of Home industry?

What about your market? Are you keeping it clean, updated and free of ‘dead’ dated copy? 

Please let us know how you Roll in the comments section below.



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  1. Chris has Boston's best billboards says

    I think just poor plant management. Blame is equal on sales dept and operations dept…but I think more on sales. Lack of weekly checks n balances, timely reporting by AEs or anyone from company. Also may be due to lack of manpower due Covid downsizing.

  2. Klaus Meine says

    Is dated copy disrespectful to the OOH industry?
    It’s actually heartbreaking. We must aspire to higher standards, we attempt to compete with TV, Radio, Digital etc…and yet we still act like old, tired and apathetic billboard people. Ask yourself another question, do you see/hear dated copy on our competition? I realize the challenges of replacing a 20′ x 80′ piece of copy but those are just lame excuses.

  3. Patricia says

    The overall question, is it disrespectful…or is it lazy? The Rolling Stones point she’s making isn’t the best, no one predicted the Pandemic, the contact is probably still active for the advertiser, why make the change when it can still push audience engagement or drive for future concerts.

    The political artwork still being active, that’s laziness to me! Agree, “If they can’t sell the space, why not give this quality space to a worthwhile public service advertiser? I’m embarrassed for them.”

  4. Dave Menk says

    Dated, expired copy and unwarranted override for non-renewals greatly diminish the value of our medium and can have an indirect effect on maintaining rate integrity. Replacing with avails/PSA or even added value copy for active advertisers helps keep creative fresh in the market as well. A mix of the three is my recommendation as there is a balance that can be achieved. In my experience, Account Executives are ultimately responsible for managing these plans thru to completion–which means cutting work orders to take down/cover dated copy and non-renewals. Part of account and inventory management. Make a note in your calendar to remove when appropriate and then do so.

  5. No Fear No Favor says

    You speak as a person of obvious experience Chris. Likely plant management. Sales is responsible. It falls on them to police it. Lack of manpower or unwillingness to spend limited resources in this COVID Crisis is certainly is a possibility. It is no secret the Big 3 are hurting.

  6. No Fear No Favor says

    We agree with your assessment Klaus Meine. As an Industry we talk of ‘being responsive and responsible’. ‘Engaging change.’ ‘Leaders in media.’ The real issue which may be difficult for some to understand and most challenged to acknowledge, is the opportunity cost of display issues. Regardless of the problem on the individual display(s), dated copy, lights out, graffiti, vegetation blockage and others issues, it is the brand which sees the offending billboard and decides at that point, they will not find themselves in a similar position, thus electing not to consider OOH. Do you have any prospects you just can not get a meeting with? Opportunity cost or more appropriately named Opportunity Loss. Everyone’s billboard plant, no matter how big or small, traditional or non, reflects on all of us as an OOH Industry. “We must aspire to higher standards.” Thank you Klaus

  7. No Fear No Favor says

    Thank you for your comments and sharing insights Patricia. OOH is one media, all of us must protect and take pride in execution.

  8. Kasper Koczab says

    Bill and the anonymous sales rep!

    I could not agree with you more. A temporary traffic back up due to a an accident is not a sign of recovery for the OOH industry. On the same note, the empty blue-chip boards on the SF skyline are a clear indication that there is zero interest from advertisers to use the medium. Those vendors need to post inspiring, funny, or simply gorgeous creatives to give those who are out there something interesting to look at. Otherwise, viewers are left with a graveyard of billboards that only compounds the feeling of despair that most are experiencing during this time. Empty boards are horrible for the industry and for OOH sales in particular.

    OOH’s #1 fan,

  9. No Fear No Favor says

    “Otherwise, viewers are left with a graveyard of billboards that only compounds the feeling of despair that most are experiencing during this time. Empty boards are horrible for the industry and for OOH sales in particular.” OOH 101 isn’t it? Your comment could not be better said. Thank you for the share Kasper Koczab.

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