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The Cool Kids Table

Livia Brown

Owner & Founder what3things and Editor-in Chief dooh.co.za

what3things and dooh.co.za
Livia Brown

Livia Brown

29 January . 9 min read . Opinion

(Credit: Canva)

Since I joined the wonderful world of media 12 years ago, OOH specifically, has always had to fight for its’ seat at the proverbial media “table”.

Long known as one of the first media channel to be removed from media schedules when media budgets get cut, OOH budgets usually sit around only 5% of the total budget allocation. When TV needs more budget it seems the strategists always “come a knocking” at the OOH door for some budget to get reallocated. This is something that has irked me for years and I have spent as much time as is appropriate shouting from my soapbox about the value and critical role of OOH within the media mix, but in 2023 I decided to step down from my soapbox.

This was not out of defeat, quite the opposite actually.

I realised that my soapbox was no longer needed and that the media channel that has always shouted the loudest, fought the hardest, push the boundaries and gone further than all of the other channels, could stop fighting for a seat at the table because it had created its’ own table.

A table that is sturdy.

A table that has earned its place.

A table that has seen it all and knows what it deserves.

This, my friends is….a table for the cool kids.

The thing about the cool kids is that the cool kids don’t have to try to be cool, it’s not forced, it’s a confident energy that comes from knowing and trusting yourself to just be who you are and it’s that level of cool that draws people in and this is exactly what OOH has done in 2023.

Join me, to pull up a seat at the cool kids table and explore the emerging themes that prove my observation is accurate and that demonstrate how cool OOH is.

What follows is a collection of some of the campaigns that stood out for me this year and we will explore the major themes around; OOH Stunts and Experiential OOH, Static OOH Excellence and a few others…

OOH Stunts and Experiential OOH

The OOH media channel offers a perfect platform to engage with audiences by creating immersive experiences and these experiences are inevitably shared on social channels, further amplifying this type of campaign.

One of the stunts below for the airline Lift for the Christmas Holidays in South Africa was pure magic, where we can see a combination of Activation elements and OOH coming together, and can I just mention that the actual aeroplane is branded, talk about a moving…sorry flying…billboard.

Sticking with the theme of taking brands to the sky with OOH, we have to include at least 1 drone execution and I cannot think of a better example of this type of execution than what Coca-Cola did in Japan for Christmas this year.

RCL Foods used a combination of Digital OOH and Activation elements for their Stork #OrderfromtheCountry campaign at Mall of Africa and you can see the intrigue and excitement from the people in the mall. The addition of influencers to drive awareness online merges the physical and online worlds well and the cherry on top for me in having the actual person on the screen appear to deliver the food orders, a perfect execution and a great display of the opportunities that exist within environments where you have some dwell time and a captive audience that is able to interact with your campaign at a pedestrian level.

Playlist

3 Videos

OOH Projections and 3D Mapping

Complex in execution and planning, costly to bring to life, but magnificently impactful and unmissable, we have seen the use of projections used for storytelling and stunts in OOH grow in popularity. From luxury brands to movie releases the list of brands and the ways that projections can amplify any campaign are endless, it is undeniable how cool this type of execution is. Here is an example of the impact that can be created through projections, as well as the ability to convey brand messages and stories in an effective way.

 

See below some amazing work done by the Innovocean and PHD teams in South Africa and an international example of what Louis Vuitton did at Harrods in Paris.

FOOH (Faux OOH)

 

Faux Out of Home (FOOH) is one of the latest crazes to take over, I am sure, all of our feeds on social media and for good reason, this is just damn cool.

 

Clever use of AI and CGI technologies are truly merging the mobile and OOH worlds like I could not have imagined before. The first FOOH that I saw was the Maybelline mascara campaign in London and New York and I was instantly fascinated.

The OOH Strategist side of my brain took over and wanted to understand how they received the council/city permissions for this, how long the production had taken to create, how and when was this flighting done and were there road and subway closures needed to place the structures and what did this type of execution cost and how was the client going to measure the ROI? Then I realised that this did not in fact exist in the real world, but rather this is an OOH stunt that is enable purely by mobile and this is where the magic came in.

 

The cross over between online and offline media channels has long been debated and we can all agree (and there is research and stats to prove) that OOH is a primer for online behavior, but the introduction of FOOH has taken this to the next level and the response from the public speaks for itself, people cannot stop sharing these types of campaigns on all social channels.

Of course, as with all things, there are mixed opinions about these types of executions, and I think that as they become more frequent, we will see forms of regulation come into play. We need to be aware of brand safely and what risks brands can put themselves at with this type of “fake” execution, we also need to be aware of any public disturbances these types of stories can circulate.

 

From my perspective this pushes OOH into the future and at the forefront for brands to talk to the current generation and meet them on their level and in their world and the upside is that you have a range or people who are now actively looking for and engaging with OOH than ever before.

 

We are creating a world when people can become so consumed by the experience that you become part of the experience. My advice to brands playing in this space would be to ensure that reference is made to the execution being created using CGI/AI, rather than let this be debated on the socials, claim it upfront. The next level of this for me would be the combination of the CGI/AI aspect of the campaign coupled with a static OOH execution, so that the campaign is enhanced by the CGI/AI aspect, but that the campaign does also exists in the physical OOH world.

 

See below some additional campaigns showcasing FOOH, and first up is this amazing execution from KFC and Mindshare and the magnificent use of Table Mountain as a backdrop for their Faux OOH campaign, then North Face, Peacock TV, adidas, Puma, London Essence Company and Coca-Cola to give a few recent examples. Please also take note that the format these are filmed in are all portrait, mobile videos, further emphasising the point around these being built for mobile/social/online exposure.

Playlist

7 Videos

Please also see this article released by OOH Academy Nigeria with a great perspective on this topic too:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rise-faux-ooh-cgi-out-of-home-advertising-blurring-7gwff 

Static OOH Excellence

Relevant and simple creative campaigns take OOH reach and engagement to a new level with static OOH.

 

 (Credit: Eskort Facebook)

The Eskort “Springbox” campaign certainly caught everyone’s attention in 2023 just before the Rugby World Cup started and for a variety of reasons. In case you missed this one, there are various articles on this, as this was both in everyone’s good and bad books, see links below;

https://www.goodthingsguy.com/business/eskorts-go-springbox-billboard-a-stroke-of-marketing-genius/

https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/423/243990.html

Despite the controversial side of this campaign, what is undeniable is that this campaign leveraged all of the reasons why OOH is so crucial to execute a stunt like this. The messaging could not have been more relevant, it created intrigue and was the perfect channel to launch this campaign before the digital and TV assets went live, quite simply OOH was used to set the stage.

Static OOH is the foundation on which the OOH media channel is built and despite the introduction of Digital OOH (DOOH), the foundation is unshakable and Static OOH continues to serves as an incredibly valuable part of the OOH mix.

The past 2 years at Cannes the campaigns that won gold in the OOH category are a British Airways campaign about,” The purpose of your visit?” and adidas Dubai with “Liquid billboard”. Both of these campaigns had a simple, effective message delivered in a simple, but effective way, in order to achieve great results.

An OOH campaign doesn’t have to have CGI/AI or 3D anamorphic creative to demand attention and be effective, it has to be strategic and executed exceptionally well.

Locally, Pineapple Insurance wins my vote for exceptional work in OOH, they created 108 unique creative messages for OOH specifically and made excellent use of humour, intrigue and clever, strategic placements of their sites to drive engagement and interest online and the case study on the below playlist shows exactly how cool this campaign was.

Also see some great production innovation concepts for Netflix and Cadbury’s giving us all of the feels for static OOH.

Clever, creative work really comes to life with static OOH and simple production innovations go a long way to drive core messages and resonate with audience. See some great work done by Audible. “For the story you need right now”. The medium becomes the message in this example as we see the actual structures being adjusted to land and enhance the creative messaging…simple…creative…effective.

Digital OOH Excellence

This Editor’s Edition would not be complete without honouring some exceptional work in the Digital OOH space.

 

The fact your are reading this article at all and following this platform means that you are well aware of the benefits of Digital OOH (DOOH) and at the top of this list has to be the adaptability of the format and how Digital OOH (DOOH) can be used very effectively to change creative messaging quickly and boy did we see this in action all over the streets, malls and airports across South Africa when we won the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

 

These is not enough space to capture all of the messaging of support and celebration here, but I have included a few examples to remind us all, not only of our Rugby victory (again), but about the magnificent display of strength from DOOH sites across South Africa. It was impossible to see the World Cup bus tour, when the trophy came home, through each city, without seeing OOH billboards along the route and specifically, the Digital OOH sites with relevant creative, reminding us of the power of relevancy through OOH.

 

Playlist

3 Videos

Other work that stands out is the phenomenal work done by Heineken 0% in the United States, utilising all of the cool toys inside the Digital OOH tool box, we see the ever impressive, massive Sphere in Las Vegas (learn more all about the Sphere here), execution as well as world class 3D anamorphic creative coming to life across different digital OOH platforms.

I mentioned upfront how this Edition of the newsletter is all about how cool OOH is and I have given numerous examples of this, and to further emphasise my point, we see a Digital OOH billboard in New York on Times Square being transformed into a stage where, among others, artist Post Malone performed a concert, that was simultaneously displaying a live stream of the concerts onto the surrounding digital OOH screen…I mean come on…it’s almost a bit unfair for the other media channels who are trying to be cool, there is just no competing with a live performance from inside a digital OOH screen…for real.

See below these campaigns, as well as some other Digital OOH campaigns what are quite simply excellent, which include a floating DOOH screen in the sea among some others.

Heading into 2024, there are numerous global media agencies who have published various trends and growth forecasts for all media channels into 2024 and beyond and according to dentsu’s Forecast 2024 for Global Ad Spend, dentsu has forecasted a 4.4% growth for OOH specifically. What is interesting to me is that their forecasts below show the biggest growth for 2024 coming from Digital at 6.5%, Cinema at 6.4%, OOH at 4.4% and then TV at 2.9%, Audio at 1.1% and then Print at -3.3%.

 (Credit: https://www.dentsu.com/news-releases/dentsu-forecasts-2024-global-ad-spend-to-grow)

Reviewing the growth and adaptation of the OOH channel, as well as the untapped opportunties that exist, both locally and globally I can see why OOH would sit in the top 3 growth channels in this forecast.

The stage is set for OOH to excel into 2024. 

I think we need ask ourselves honestly where will the 4.4% growth in 2024 come from? In my opinion, I would argue that we have just started to skim the surface of the current evolution of OOH. South Africa is a fast moving and adaptive media market and we have proved time and again that what is being done on the global stages can be executed in our market too. I’d invite the industry to go deeper from a creative perspective and to not play it safe, push the envelope and be brave. 

Let’s see more projections, let’s see more dynamic and 3D/anamorphic creative campaigns coming to life, let’s see more campaigns where OOH sets the stage for the other media channels to follow, let’s see more intentional and strategic OOH campaigns where simple, great work wins for our clients and let’s remind, not only our clients, but ourselves of the strides that OOH has made and we as an industry are only getting started.

Livia is passionate about working with people and driving business results through doing things differently. She has experience in the media industry and until recently was the General Manager for Posterscope South Africa, the largest Specialist Out of Home media agency in South Africa, part of the dentsu media group. Livia drove the agency to success through putting her team first and knowing the importance of early adoption and introduction to industry leading data, tech and tools and a “if it doesn’t exist, I will build it” attitude. 

Livia is an industry leader in the Out of Home media space and has marketing expertise that comes from over 10 years of working on major brands in the following industries: FMCG, Quick Service Restaurants, Airlines, Banking, Alcohol and Insurance.