OOH Champion Today —Lisa Clarkson
OOH Today’s Conversation with Lisa Clarkson
Lisa Clarkson —OOH Today Champion
OOH Today features individuals who Champion and define Outdoor Advertising. We share the faces and stories behind the names who add a personal dimension to Out Of Home (OOH). Personal connections, are still an important part of OOH and is an Industry where the people behind the company, are as important as the company itself.
by Will Farmer
Media and Communications Manager, OOH Today
OOH Today’s Conversation with Lisa Clarkson
Hello and welcome Lisa. Please give us some background on yourself
- My name is Lisa Clarkson and I was born and raised in Champaign, Illinois. I am a lover of tacos, Beyoncé, the perfect shade of lipstick, bold statement earrings, and my adorable pug, Jamal. I graduated from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana with a degree in Business Administration/Marketing and Spanish. To further develop my fluency in Spanish, I had the opportunity to study and live abroad in Córdoba, Argentina. I have always loved the Spanish language and culture. In fact, the first billboard I recall noticing was in Spanish and I even took a picture of it. This was in 2009 – almost a decade before I began working in the OOH industry.
With such a diverse array of work experience, how did you find your way into OOH?
- By complete accident. Initially, I had no idea what I was signing up for but once I commit to something, I am all in. I knew I would enjoy and be passionate about building up multiple brands, but I had and still have much to learn. I was a young millennial fascinated by how the platform has evolved from paint to paper to vinyl to digital – and how it continues to evolve online. I quickly realized I wanted to be part of the next chapter of growth, change, and transformation in the outdoor space. Despite having less than 5 years of experience, I have always had the same passionate, creative, and driven energy that is the hallmark of the OOH industry.
What have you enjoyed most about working in the OOH Industry?
- There are several things, but I love that no day is the same. It is both so challenging and yet extremely rewarding to partner with a business owner who is initially hesitant to “old,” “outdated,” “traditional media,” but in time falls in love with the outdoor medium. Being able to challenge misunderstandings and change perceptions of the platform even among other marketing professionals is a special feeling. Outdoor is always on. It is a one-to-many medium, yet it is non-invasive and does not disrupt the consumer experience. Working with a variety of industries/business owners and learning from each other is the best part of the OOH industry.
What work within OOH are you most proud of?
- Northeast Central Illinois Regional Intermediary 2020 Census –
- Through working on this campaign, I was able to learn so much from the client about the importance of completing the Census in your local community. The campaign covered several counties and locations were selected to reach certain demographics. One of the target audiences was the Latino population, and I suggested the ad copy for these be in Spanish. The client loved the idea but did not have access to messaging in Spanish. I was able to use my knowledge of the language to translate several options for her to choose from. I loved seeing the Spanish ad copy in our market and being able to use my passion for the Spanish language to improve my client’s outdoor campaign.
- I was able to do this again a few months later while working with the local public health district on a campaign surrounding the COVID19 pandemic. The original messaging was, “Wear It, Don’t Share It.” We were able to also offer the Spanish translation, “Utilícela, No lo propague.”
- Northeast Central Illinois Regional Intermediary 2020 Census –
Collaboration with National Eating Disorders Association for NEDAwareness Week 2020
- In February of 2020, I partnered with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) on behalf of my employer at the time, Adams Outdoor Advertising, for its Annual Awareness Week. NEDAwareness Week is the largest and best-known eating disorders outreach effort in the country. It is an opportunity to improve public understanding of eating disorders and their causes, dangers, and treatments and to empower everyone to reduce risk factors and join prevention efforts.
- Our CEO, Kevin Gleason, had just visited our market the month before and he encouraged us to do the best work we can and to make an impact on those we encounter every day. I am extremely passionate about mental health and have been for many years. My own struggles and decision to recover from anorexia and bulimia in 2013 only fueled my desire to learn more about the struggles of those around me and how we are all connected.
- As a NEDAWeek Collaborator, Adams Outdoor matched advertising campaigns and used the outdoor medium as a voice to build a community of support and hope in the fight against eating disorders. Raising awareness and changing the conversation surrounding eating disorders is SO important. Everybody knows somebody. People who need help often look a lot like people who do not need help. I am still learning, still growing, still working to accept and love myself. But healing is not linear; healing is ongoing. One day at a time truly does take you places, and there is always purpose to be found in our struggles. I hope sharing my own story and years of struggle will allow others to find comfort in it, be hopeful because of it, or better understand this illness. My hope is that even one billboard will change the thoughts of those around me and lead someone else to a path of healing.
My hope is that even one billboard will change the thoughts of those around me and lead someone else to a path of healing.
What approach to your work has allowed you to exceed your goals?
- Hard work, honest dialogue, and a commitment to my clients and their goals. A willingness to challenge the status quo versus take the easy way out.
- Understanding the value of the outdoor medium, respecting that value, and passing this onto clients I work with. I believe in working with businesses to establish long-term relationships, to develop and sell strategic campaigns rather than one-time, short-term, promotional buys, and to respect the outdoor medium. I diligently research both my clients and prospects extensively to create tailored proposals for both online and outdoor advertising strategies. Attention to detail is both my biggest strength and biggest weakness. I always take notes, and I dedicate the care and concern in managing each client’s campaign as if it were my own business that I had built from the ground up. Trust is consistency over time, and I will always be honest with my clients.
Any advice for those getting into the OOH industry?
- Find your why. Be honest and remember your own values. Remember every day is new. Take the time to reflect and have self-awareness. While there is a lot of creativity and fun in this industry, it is also extremely competitive and challenging at times. What good is being the best if it brings out the worst in you?
Who has helped or influenced you most in your OOH career?
- I have been fortunate to have several mentors and people who have taught me valuable lessons that apply to both my career and my personal life. With respect to my career in OOH, there are a few who come to mind.
- Ed Schulz – Local Sales Manager, Adams Outdoor Advertising
- Ed Schulz gave me a new appreciation for the word, “value,” and taught me the importance of valuing both the outdoor asset and myself as an individual. Because he instilled in me the value of the outdoor medium and educated me to understand why, I also learned to not compromise this value in order to fit a budget. Additionally, Ed encouraged me to be unapologetically assertive. Just as I am responsible for honoring the value and rate of the outdoor assets and not devaluing these to accommodate a specific budget, I also must honor my own value and “price” – even if it means walking away instead of settling. If you settle for crumbs in hopes that you will be fed, you will only be left starving.
- Dan Wild – Illustrator, designer, caricaturist, and author, for Dan Wild Creative; former Art Director, Adams Outdoor Advertising
- Dan Wild taught me the importance of strong creative and the role it has in the success of an outdoor campaign. I credit him for my knowledge and my understanding of the Rules of Outdoor, as well as for having the confidence to engage in healthy dialogue with a client that may challenge the status quo but ultimately deliver a stronger campaign.
- Additionally, Dan and his work showed me the impact of OOH – even by a campaign that did not highlight any specific brand, product, or service. I learned that impact comes in many forms – ROI by increased sales, brand awareness, etc.… but also by impacting the world around you, and sometimes, by impacting a stranger miles away by sharing his talent and passion with the world – and by taking it a step further with an act of kindness that brought OOH to life for an autistic child and allowed his parents to find joy in watching him play.
- Working with Dan also taught me things that apply to any profession. His kindness is infectious, and he has an ability to work with anyone – even those who are much different than him. Dan always reminded me of the importance of teamwork and collaboration; a business is rarely profitable because of a single employee. Additionally, Dan exemplifies setting boundaries in a variety of ways that I aspire to myself. These include boundaries with clients and managing expectations, as well as boundaries that honor his time and talents and separate his personal life from his professional. Dan also is an incredible example of someone who finds joy in everything.
- Charlie DeNatale – Senior Media Buyer, Healthcare Success
- Charlie DeNatale was the first media buyer and agency contact I worked with shortly after I began my career in the OOH industry. Over the last few years, he has become a source of professional guidance and someone whose friendship I deeply value. From our first contact, Charlie has always been transparent with me. Although he is always on the go and a true workaholic, he is patient and always willing to clarify any questions I have. Anyone who knows me can attest that I always have A LOT of questions! Charlie has also been someone who I have looked to for feedback and constructive criticism to better myself both personally and professionally.
- Lucia Lacombe –National Sales Manager at Trailhead Media; former National Sales Representative, Adams Outdoor Advertising
- Lucia was patient with me as I was learning to work with high dollar agencies such as Kinetic, OMD/OMG, SlyFox, and direct clients of the agencies, including McDonald’s MolsonCoors, and Target. She is extremely knowledgeable and was always willing to help me gain a better understanding of strategies and campaigns we were collaborating on. She and Melissa Gonzalez (National Sales Coordinator, AOA) provided me a deeper understanding of the agency side of the OOH industry from their many years of experience – including key differences of smaller versus larger agencies, as well as the importance of management, ownership, etc. However, I am most thankful for the continued guidance and mentorship afforded to me by Lucia over the last year while we are both navigating the transition to a new role.
if/when my time on earth is up, I would like them to put up a billboard in my honor
- If I am not able to find a role in the OOH industry as a career, how do I plan to fuel this passion of mine?
- I often find myself telling friends and those around me that if/when my time on earth is up, I would like them to put up a billboard in my honor with “______” messaging. Some examples include a plea to bring back manners and pet peeves of mine while driving on the Interstate. I am realizing, however, that I have so many in mind already, so the only solution is to start while I’m still here! If the next chapter of my career does not find me in outdoor advertising, I would love to create an Instagram Account featuring mockups of all these billboards. Some will be elegant tokens of wisdom or “Ah-Ha” moments, others will be blunt truths, and of course some will be just for laughs.
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