OOH Today Road Trip: 5 Biggest OOH Takeaways from Los Angeles
A cross-country crash course in how to do OOH right
by Sarah Druhan, OOH TODAY Editorial Correspondent
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when it comes to OOH hotspots, Los Angeles is one of the brightest on the map. In a land where social media is king, LA’s out-of-home market is one of constant transformation, always pushing itself to be smoother, sleeker, and shinier than its competition—with thrilling results. Entire short films unfurl on the digital wall of a bus stop kiosk, just to advertise perfume. The phrase ‘Augmented Reality Marketing’ is just a casual part of conversations you hear on the street. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a building on the Sunset Strip without a hundred-foot poster emblazoned on its side.
More than just billboards, out-of-home advertising is woven into the very fabric of the City of Stars. That’s why when I found out I would be visiting Southern California around the holidays, I knew I couldn’t resist a little exploring. So buckle up for a road trip of real visual treats (and some admittedly blurry photos taken frantically on the freeway)—here are this writer’s biggest OOH takeaways from one of the market’s biggest names.
More than just billboards, out-of-home advertising is woven into the very fabric of the City of Stars
1. LAX Farmers Market
If Los Angeles is the nation’s outdoor advertising capital, the LAX Airport might just be its national monument. Based on stalls from the LA Original Farmers Market—a historic staple operating on the corner of Third Street and Fairfax Avenue since 1934–this small food court in LAX’s Terminal 5 serves hungry travelers crispy taquitos from ¡Loteria! Grill, fresh baguettes from the T&Y Bakery, and old-school lattes from the Coffee Corner, to name just a few. These digital screens located just outside the food court continuously loop footage of the exciting events and shops at the real Original Farmers Market, all unfolding underneath the market’s iconic slogan “Meet me at Third and Fairfax.” As advertising gambits go, it’s a pretty clever one: the display not only offers us first-time visitors a direct glimpse into the heart of LA, but also draws us to the famous market by making us feel as though we’re right in the center of it. A stroke of genius that cements their business as many visitors’ first impression of LA, this DOOH piece ensures that the address “Third and Fairfax” will linger in travelers’ minds the whole ride to the Airbnb.
Serious question—does anything seem less ‘out-of-home’ than social media? While most people’s answer is probably a hard ‘no,’ this intriguing advertising piece for a pop-up selfie museum may just defy expectations.
Bathed in bold neons and eye-popping blues, this ad for SelfieWRLDLA can be found at the Americana at Brand Mall in Glendale. The museum itself is a display of colorful interactive exhibits that are designed purely for visitors’ selfie-taking pleasure. In other words, the idea behind it seems to be one of drawing the social media experience out of our phones and making it into a physical interactive reality that we can share with others face-to-face. This ad not only effectively channels this idea—part of it almost resembles an electronic device that is literally being pried open—but it also taps right into the spirit of out-of-home advertising. Its slick visuals and snappy Gen Z anachronisms demonstrate how themes we associate with online ads can become that much bigger, brighter, and more exciting in a real-world setting. Both glamorous and eye-catchingly creative, this installation is nothing if not a love letter to the power of out-of-home—and sure enough, many a tourist just couldn’t resist snapping a quick selfie with it on their way by.
3. Cadillac Electriq Theater
Los Angeles, meet the future. Future, Los Angeles. (Charmed, I’m sure.) While its limited run ended on December 31, the Cadillac Electriq Theater was not just an ad for the classic car manufacturer. It was also a “3D Immersive Experience”, where any curious pedestrian could open its doors and step right into an electric-powered utopia.
The Electriq Theater leans decidedly hard into Cadillac’s core company tenets of luxury and prestige—first impressions may leave some visitors feeling as though they’ve stumbled into a part of Bruce Wayne’s basement. But Cadillac gives the installation a sharp edge by emphasizing their company’s hard focus on the future. The product pictured above, currently only a concept called “PersonalSpace,” is designed to transport users in high-style above time-wasting traffic; it looks like something we couldn’t have even dreamed of existing even just five years ago. In the next room, the upcoming 2023 Lyriq car model promises a sleek and sporty all-electric vibe, assuring customers of Cadillac’s identity as an adaptable brand that is more than ready to roll with the punches of the coming year. Equipped with a gleaming all-glass storefront and towering digital screens, the Cadillac Electriq Theater is more than just a prime example of how out-of-home can physically transport customers to another time and place. It’s also a stunning vision of Christmas Yet-to-Come that even the grumpiest Scrooge might actually enjoy.
4. Fashion Nova
Much like the eyes of out-of-home legend TJ Eckleburg, the gaze of this Fashion Nova model watches over LA from the rooftop of the lavish Casa Vertigo—and to Los Angeles drivers, the popular billboard spot is probably just as infamous. The rooftop’s clear location just above the bustling I-10 and I-110 interchange has long cemented it as an LA out-of-home staple; any brand or billboard planted here likely would have earned a spot on this list. But Fashion Nova scores additional points for their choice to literally push at their boundaries. The featured model physically breaks out of the billboard itself, a possible hint at Fashion Nova’s refusal to be fit into any one box or definition. And by illuminating itself in stark, unmissable white after sundown, the billboard becomes more than just an ad, but also a brilliant beacon heralding travelers’ imminent arrival into LA’s legendary downtown. Smack dab above two of California’s busiest highways and just to the left of a glitzy ‘Welcome to LA’ message, Fashion Nova’s billboard has everything it needs to be a true Los Angeles out-of-home great.
A masterclass in the limitless power of out of home to be anything, anywhere:
5. Glass Onion
It had been three short days packed full of digital posters, luxury car themed theaters, and larger-than-life billboards. As she hopped into the LAX security line to make her early morning return home, this sleep-deprived writer thought she had seen every nook and cranny of what out-of-home in the City of Stars could offer her. But more than anything, LA is a city of surprises, and it seemed there was one more tantalizing gem left on this OOH treasure hunt to discover—in fact, an entire stack of them.
These security trays, themed to advertise Netflix’s latest murder mystery hit Glass Onion, not only captured even the most exhausted traveler’s attention with lush Mediterranean backdrops featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest names, as well as with the striking scarlet of Janelle Monáe’s portrait. They also were an example of OOH advertising that, frankly, I had never seen before. The security line is a part of the flying experience that no one can avoid; during the particular week I flew, this included every single one of the 200,000 people estimated to be flying through LAX for the holidays. With fingerprints from all over the world on these trays, there’s really no telling the sheer amount of exposure that the Glass Onion marketing team was able to garner. And with catchy themed phrases like “Plan your Getaway” and “Pack the Evidence” printed right where viewers could see them, it’s clear that time was spent on tailoring these ads perfectly to their environment. By shaking up everyday airport routines with just the right splash of creativity, Netflix stepped up to the LAX plate to bat a total out-of-home-run—and indeed, these particular trays were spotted only two days before Glass Onion hit the streaming platform to an audience of a whopping 35 million households. Could this number have been boosted by an LAX traveler or two home for the holidays? That’s something we may never know. But here’s something that I can say for sure: this campaign is the best of LA OOH, all wrapped up in one literal box. A masterclass in the limitless power of out of home to be anything, anywhere: we’ll see you next time, Los Angeles. It’s been real.