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Step Outside … and Out of Your Comfort Zone

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By Melody Roberts, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Out of Home Creative

Out of home (OOH) advertising offers a diversity of size, scale, location, and creative possibilities unmatched by any other medium, but with it comes one of the most challenging and rewarding canvases for creatives who must simplify a brand’s narrative and evoke an audience response with a single image, word, or headline. This challenge incites creativity within the medium and has driven me to dedicate my 22-year career to designing for the OOH industry.

The 81st Annual OBIE Awards are the most prestigious honor for creative excellence in OOH advertising, and it was an honor to serve as a judge. In a record-breaking year for entries, several trends stood out to me on judging day. We saw drone aerial shows, 3D anamorphic technology, holographic projections, multi-sensory street-level activations, market takeovers, hand-painted murals, and clever copywriting – all proving that our industry continues to push the creative needle and embrace innovative design.

The Resurgence of QR Codes Continues

In the OOH landscape, QR codes have become more of a staple than a trend. The trend now is how we use them in new and innovative ways.

In several campaigns, including Childhood Domestic Violence: “Change the Ending,” the experience shifts from a one-to-one interaction and becomes a one-to-many experience, which is what OOH is meant to be. Using QRAD (Quick Response AD), “Change the Ending” encouraged consumers to interact with the ad and see changes in real-time, turning attention into action.With the “Find That Thing” OOH campaign, Google highlighted its newest innovation – Google Lens. Image recognition technology delivering information about the scanned object was displayed across nine hand-painted murals encouraging over four million people nationwide to “Search what you see.”Brands Have Distinct Needs

As our industry evolves, creatives are continuously challenged to consider how brands can be positioned outside the home, and advertisers are seeking maximum impact. This doesn’t mean we must work with substantial budgets for an OOH campaign to be successful. The Coca-Cola billboard “Yes” from 1946 is a model that advertisers adhere to today because it is effective and concise: one image, one word, and one logo. The MLK tribute was one of several entries that followed this model of simplicity. This year, we saw the world’s first billboard creative written in Aurebesh – the alien language from the Star Wars universe – thanks to LG’s limited-edition Star Wars OLED TV. Only the most hardcore Star Wars fans would recognize the words broadcast on #Maythe4th in Times Square. Those who successfully translated the message were led to a website where they could pre-register to purchase a limited-edition Star Wars OLED TV. This customized call to action received global press coverage and, more importantly, went viral across Star Wars fan sites.

Creative Placement

While creative is undoubtedly a vital component of a successful OOH campaign, so too is location. This year, brands used the medium with intention by selecting markets or locations to craft memorable campaigns that attracted global attention.

Following a 13-year wait, Avatar: The Way of Water reunited audiences with Pandora via an epic OOH campaign with a Niagara Falls takeover using holographic projections, custom lighting, and a 600-drone aerial show. In Times Square, 40+ screens featured creatures flowing around the bowtie for Avatar Day, a global trailer release. A global anamorphic 3D campaign covered 13 iconic locations. Disney partnered with the LA Rams to showcase their new machine learning-powered branded Snapchat lens at SoFi Stadium. A stunning caustic lighting effect on a wallscape completed the Avatar experience.During their Times Square takeover on Earth Day, Algorand demonstrated that crypto could be climate conscious. The internationally renowned intersection was covered with Algorand green across 47 marquee billboards for two minutes. Then everything faded to black for 13 minutes to represent energy conservation. That’s powerful. That’s what OOH delivers. The OOH industry benefits from these thought-provoking ideas, challenging us to remain open-minded and to think differently. Several brands opted for one-word copy, backlighting for a glow-in-the-dark effect, 3D elements, extensions, pop-outs, channel lettering, custom installations, and even a bubble machine. Where else can you see a crocodile in a bathtub with bubbles floating in the air?

Your Options Are Infinite with OOH
OOH advertising is successful when it’s memorable. Whether that memory makes you happy, sad, or angry, creating an effective campaign requires content that connects with your audience. Our role as stakeholders should include taking what we see in this year’s OBIEs shortlist into consideration when presenting new ideas to our clients – especially when asking them to step out of their comfort zones and explore new methods of execution. Competition for consumers’ attention continues to grow, so innovative and memorable concepts are key. This year’s OBIE Awards entries inspire creative thinkers to keep thinking creatively. Everyone advertising in OOH is now held to a higher standard because of this year’s winners.

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  1. […] Want to Know What’s Trending in Advertising? […]

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