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OOH Today’s Champion -Aaron Gaeir

How he went from selling lemonade to bus shelters to Founder of an agency who executes over-the-top Outdoor campaigns for the biggest brands in the world

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Aaron Gaeir, Founder and CEO of Grandesign.

Aaron Gaeir OOH Today Champion

OOH Today features women and men who Champion and define Outdoor Advertising. Sharing the faces and stories behind the names who add a personal dimension to Out Of Home (OOH).  Relationships are still an important part of #OOH and is an Industry where the people behind the company, are as important as the company itself.

We are visiting with Aaron Gaeir, Founder and CEO of Grandesign.  Grandesign, is one of the fastest growing out-of-home media solutions companies in the country specializing in over-the-top outdoor campaigns and unique brand engagement.

OOH Today’s Conversation with Aaron Gaeir 

Aaron, how long have you been in the OOH business?

AG: The OOH business has wholeheartedly consumed my life for over twenty years and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The fun began in 1996 when I joined Transit America as a founding member which provided advertising in and around bus shelters in Las Vegas. Haven’t turned back since.

BB: Tell us about your experience working in OOH.

AG: In the course of two decades, I’ve founded three startups and five as a founding member—all in the out-of-home and billboard business. Grandesign, my current company, focuses on both experiential and traditional advertising. We’ve been lucky to successfully execute campaigns for some of the biggest brands in the world including Fandom, Warner Bros, Blizzard, Amazon and Adult Swim.

BB: College and further education?

AG: I studied health and physical education at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo before making the jump to bio-tech industry sales, but I’m a natural-born entrepreneur. At the ripe age of five, I was roaming around my neighborhood asking for money to start a lemonade stand.

BB: When you’re not at the office, what are your passions?

AG: On paper, my business is OOH, but over the course of my career and experience in the workforce, I’d like to think passion really lies with business and people. I enjoy speaking with aspiring entrepreneurs and helping them understand unique ways to make a business scalable and successful. After a day of hustling, I get to come home to my wonderful wife and four kids in sunny San Diego

BB: How did you find your way into the OOH business?

AG: A friend secured a municipality contract to build bus shelters in Las Vegas called Transit America and he asked me to start the sales for the advertising in and around those shelters. It was the foundation for the intellect and big shoulders needed to then pursue for additional entrepreneur endeavors.

BB: You have been in Outdoor for 20 years. What has kept you there? What is it about OOH you enjoy?

AG: I love that OOH is the oldest form of advertising in the world – it goes back to the caveman days and it’s still relevant today as an $8 billion industry. Grandesign embodies both the traditional and experiential elements and I’ve been lucky to build a team of winners that keep me excited every single day. Even if Grandesign didn’t exist, I’d still find myself in OOH. It’s what I do. What I enjoy the most about the industry is the tight-knit community. Everyone knows everyone and loves the business.

BB: We have been admiring your work in Experiential. What are the most important elements you have learned about experiential?

AG: Real answer…I’m still learning. It’s incredibly dynamic and requires an entrepreneurial mind that’s nimble and has the ability to react quickly. There is no playbook. There is no study guide. It takes certain kind of people – People Like Us (PLUs) – to thrive in this environment. I think here at Grandesign, we’ve figured that out.

American Idol judges and host Ryan Seacrest were the objects of Grandesign’s work for the ABC TV

BB: How do you approach target audience of Experimental verses traditional OOH?

AG: Both are different, but together create synergy. Traditional is the best vehicle to drive credibility and trust within a brand and generally speaks to those older generations. The folks driving in their cars to get from point A to point B and glance up to see a billboard about brands. Experiential drives ROI and generally speaks to the millennials since those activations generally happen in urban areas where most are on scooters, bikes or walking. You need both to really make it work.

BB: You have done very well in this business.  Any advice to others contemplating getting into OOH?

AG: Don’t get into the industry unless you have an appetite for constant change.

BB: What do you attribute to your personal success OOH?

AG: The movers and shakers of the OOH business including Pat Hazel, Arnie Marino and Mike Tobey. These pioneers took me – a young, eager-to-learn entrepreneur – under their wings and taught me the #billboard side of OOH.

BB: Over 20 years of experience, what are you most proud of?  

AG: I’m most proud of the infectious, small, family like atmosphere that we have been able to create that is still true to the OOH roots. We’ve made progress, in both traditional and experiential, but we still stay true to what we are.

small, family like atmosphere

BB: Do you have a prediction for the future of OOH?

AG: AR (Augmented Reality) is going to shake the OOH industry to its core. We’re going to have these ads that have OOH customization the person wearing them. Might not happen for 10 years, but Grandesign was one of the first to deeply understand experiential, and we will be one of the first to adapt to the AR

AR is going to shake the OOH industry to its core

BB: Is there anyone you most admire or credit to providing significant influence in your Outdoor career?

AG: Doug Hecht. Pat Hazel. Rick Hilmer. These people are either my partners and good friends or know exactly what it takes to run a company this size while still remaining true to yourself. And, they are good people. They resonate with me because they know my pain and successes I’m going through, because they went through them too.

BB: Anything else you’d like to add?

AG: Grandesign recently introduced The Experience – beginning at San Diego’s  Comic-Con this year. We’ve been busy these last few months introducing this new arm at our company. Stay tuned…you’ll be hearing a lot about this concept we’ve pioneered.


Contact: Aaron Gaeir, agaeir@grandesign.com





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