The Annual 2004: The Year in ... Outdoor

Flyposting, consumer lifestyle trends and technological advances are posing contrasting challenges for the outdoor industry.

At the risk of sounding smug, outdoor is continuing to perform extremely well in a tough media market. Revenue growth to September 2004 is likely to be confirmed at about 10 per cent year on year, which is extraordinary coming on top of 10 per cent growth in 2003, and outdoor continues to outperform the rest of the media market.

The key to outdoor's continued success is that the medium has been - and continues to be - transformed. This transformation is neatly signposted by the two outdoor stories that those not actually involved in the medium were probably most aware of this year: the challenge to the legality of fly-posting and the arrival of digital screens in Tesco.

On the one hand, fly-posting - old-fashioned, unappealing, not much thought given to targeting and none at all to accountability. It's everything the outdoor medium has spent the past decade moving away from.

There has been a number of attempts this year to solve the problem. In June, Camden Council issued antisocial behaviour orders against record company executives at Sony Music Entertainment and BMG for using fly-posters, and Westminster Council launched its own campaign to combat the fly-poster nuisance.

On the other hand, digital screens in the country's biggest retailer - state-of-the-art, promising greater engagement with the consumer, highly targeted and offering unparalleled levels of accountability. This embodies what the outdoor medium has become.

Tesco TV is just the highest-profile example of a myriad of new screen-based opportunities, which in turn are just a fraction of the new outdoor advertising opportunities that spring up on a continuing basis. Their chief significance is that they broaden the way outdoor can be used; such media extend the length of time you can communicate with consumers and, via electronic point-of-sale technol-ogy, they can give advertisers the clearest view yet of exactly how their advertising works.

We're just beginning to understand how this novel part of the outdoor medium will develop, what content to use (certainly just plonking on a television ad isn't the best idea), and how it fits in with other elements of marketing communications. Like so many other recent developments in media, it blurs the distinction we used to draw between above and below the line.

What we do know is that the advent of screens and the constant flow of other new formats will continue to make outdoor more flexible and effective.

In our view, this is one of four key drivers that will accelerate this trend.

The first driver is consolidation, on both the supply and demand sides.

On the supply side, outdoor is the most consolidated medium in the world, with three global players - JCDecaux, Clear Channel and Viacom - controlling around 35 per cent of global outdoor advertising and more than 60 per cent in Western Europe. These percentages will almost certainly increase.

On the demand side, specialist outdoor agencies will continue to develop in influence, as advertisers demand an accountable return on their investments.

The consolidation of ownership, power and revenue among major contractors will continue to drive investment in outdoor communication facilities.

This will create ever more opportunities to connect with audiences out of home; new formats in existing prime sites; improved access to spectacular sites negotiated with landmark building owners; new experiential opportunities; new production methods; more flexible sites with screens offering day/week part access; and greater interactivity, through mobiles linking with embedded poster site technologies and with screen sites via the web. There have been significant developments in all these areas this year, which increase opportunities to interact, engage, stimulate and inform consumers.

The focus of media owner development is now to produce the best opportunity the location affords and not to just stick to a pre-determined format.

Hence the growth in mega-sites, banners and the large portrait formats.

More traditionally, six-sheets have continued to reach out into everyday environments: the street, the station, the gym, the cinema, the swimming pool, the university campus, the shopping mall and the supermarket.

And where conventional or new formats aren't possible, we can now develop bespoke solutions. Who would have thought, say, five years ago, that a branded skating rink could be developed in a key city-centre location to capitalise on the pre-Christmas shopping traffic swell?

Consumer lifestyle changes are having their own effect. Recent research from the BBC revealed that 60 per cent of our waking hours are now spent out of home, underlining that mobility is a key trend across almost all demographics, with the way consumers communicate, are entertained and are informed increasingly happening out of home.

In effect, people are spending more time with outdoor, and less time with in-home media. Communication technologies mean leisure and business lifestyles are more fluid and less fixed. Finally, populations will continue to migrate to urban centres, increasing the reach of outdoor messages.

Accountability is, of course, key. Better information, research and data on the performance of the medium will allow buyers to show increased effectiveness and accountability, and drive continued growth in share of adspend.

This will be considerably enhanced by the developments on Postar recently announced at this year's Barcelona Outdoor Conference: a further £6 million has been spent on developing the existing roadside data and extending it to include transport and point of sale between now and 2005.

THE 10 BEST POSTERS

1. Polo, "King Kong", DDB London

This consistently brilliant DDB print campaign for Volkswagen always hits the mark. In this case, "small but tough" is illustrated by King Kong clutching his foot because he stubbed his toe on a Volkswagen Polo. The 30s-style poster scooped no fewer than four awards at the Campaign Poster Awards this year. These included the top honour of Best Individual Poster and silvers in the Best Six-sheet and Best Automotive categories.

Agency: DDB

Writer: Simon Veksner

Art director: Nick Allsop

2. Quality Street, "toffee finger", "purple one", "green triangle", Lowe

Giant sweet wrappers accost unsuspecting pedestrians in these three understated executions to communicate the arrival of giant Quality Street. "The big toffee finger has arrived" is the best, but all three ads are charming and fun. The ads took the gold for best campaign at the Campaign Direct Awards. This marked an early triumph for Lowe's newly promoted executive creative director, Ed Morris.

Agency: Lowe

Writer/art director: Ed Morris

3. Dove, "supermodels", "actual size", Ogilvy & Mather

This campaign, which plastered "real", curvaceous women dressed only in their underwear all over town, caused a storm. The public liked it because it made all the size-14-and-above women feel normal and the tabloids loved it because they could fill their pages with images of barely dressed females. The campaign did well at the Campaign Poster Awards, but its reported effectiveness is truly astounding, with a claimed 700 per cent increase in sales of Dove firming products in the first six months of 2004. Lever Faberge attributes this rise - from 280,000 products to 2.3 million products - to the campaign.

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather

Writer: Dennis Lewis

Art director: Joerg Herzog

4. The Economist, "Brains", Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

After 17 years on the billboards, you might think that David Abbott's red Economist posters would be looking a bit tired. However, they've still got oomph, judging by this year's efforts. This poster taps into the recent craze for all things Thunderbirds and continues the intelligent humour of the original ads. There's no logo or strapline. Instead, a cut-out of the Thunderbirds character Brains sits on the distinctive red background.

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Writers/art directors: Tony Hardcastle, Mark Twedell

5. Robinsons, "dog", "girl on swing", Bartle Bogle Hegarty

These delicate images demonstrate how an advertising idea for TV can be transposed to posters without losing its charm. What, at first glance, appear to be whorls of juice hitting the water, on closer inspection coalesce into swirling images of a gamboling dog, or a girl playing on a swing.

Agency: Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Writers/art directors: Rosie Arnold, Matt Kemsley

6. Velvet Toilet Tissue, "pool", Fallon

Nothing too obvious here, either; these posters demand a little thought and provide a little smile in return. Your first thought is: "What has that got to do with toilet roll?" The idea is the same as the TV campaign - Velvet toilet paper is soft.

Agency: Fallon

Writers/art directors: Ed Edwards, Dave Masterman

7. British Heart Foundation, "artery", Euro RSCG London

The artery-clogging effects of smoking are illustrated with peculiar clarity in this remarkable campaign from Euro RSCG London. The still image of a cigarette as a fat-laden blood vessel is nearly as disgusting as the dripping cigarettes of the TV campaign. If this doesn't get the message across, it's hard to imagine what will. No surprise then that the campaign has been swamped with plaudits, including a Campaign Direct award in the Best-Not-for-Profit or Charities category and an IPA Effectiveness gong.

Agency: Euro RSCG London

Writers: Sam Richards, Liz Whiston

Art directors: Dave Shelton, Phil Beaumont

8. The Guardian, "Trivial Pursuit", DDB London

Another understated offering for the intellectuals among us, this time for The Guardian's Life supplement, which deals with science issues. A Trivial Pursuit holder filled with green segments - the colour designated for science questions - deftly illustrates the strapline: "The big questions of science answered." If you don't get it, it doesn't matter, because you aren't in the target audience.

Agency: DDB London

Writer: Patrick McClelland

Art director: Grant Parker

9. The Times, "biggest for sport", Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Larger-than-life images of a football, a rugby ball and cricket ball convey the message that The Times has extended its sports coverage. A huge rugby ball wedged between the posts edges ahead as the most entertaining of the three, but only just. The campaign communicates in a language that its audience will appreciate and understand. Both "cricket" and "rugby" picked up silver awards at Campaign Posters and "football" earned a commendation.

Agency: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Writers and art directors: Andy Clough, Richard McGrann

10. BBC Radio 1, "in music we trust", Fallon

Medieval heraldry meets contemporary pop culture in this poster from Fallon. A portrait of the rapidly rising Radio 1 star Zane Lowe is adorned with music paraphernalia, griffins and wyverns rampant. The campaign even has a motto, in the form of the strapline: "In new music we trust." The imagery, worthy of a spoof rockumentary, emphasises Radio 1's commitment to new music and aims to alert listeners to its post-7pm programming.

Agency: Fallon

Writer: Lawrence Seftel

Art director: Gary Anderson

THE 10 BEST AMBIENT EXECUTIONS.

1. DaimlerChrysler, Smart sites

This execution extended the brand values of the Smart Car brand in a novel and unexpected way. Working with JCDecaux, the agencies came up with a new billboard format to fill the gaps between the standard 48- or 96-sheet billboards illustrating how the car makes good use of the smallest spaces.

Client: DaimlerChrysler

Media agency: BJK&E

Outdoor specialist: Portland Outdoor

2. Lynx, "truck"

This ambient execution involved a truck with girls' names and phone numbers scrawled in the dirt in the sides. The judges at the Campaign Poster Awards gave this campaign a silver award in the Best Use of Ambient category.

Client: Lever Faberge

Media agency: Initiative

Outdoor specialist: Concord

3. Portaloo branding at Creamfields dance music festival

Posterscope's specialist Hyperspace division produced a relevant execution for a tough target audience in a credible way for COI Communications' anti-drugs "Frank" campaign. A pair of arms was attached to a portaloo, along with the strapline: "If you want to hug this portaloo, call Frank."

Client: COI Communications

Media agency: Naked

Outdoor specialist: Posterscope Hyperspace

4. The Guardian Ryder Cup guide

In this tightly targeted campaign, Claydon Heeley Jones Mason created 50,000 camouflaged golf balls to promote The Guardian's 68-page Ryder Cup special guide and planted them in hoppers on golf driving ranges and on counters at pro-shops nationwide.

Client: Guardian Newspapers

Agency: Claydon Heeley Jones Mason

5. Diageo, "23"

As well as special builds at key drinking locations, the campaign for the mixer brand involved a barge and a truck with a glowing cube on a ramp that could be lifted into the air in front of pubs and bars where the mixer was being promoted.

Client: Diageo

Media agency: Carat

Outdoor specialist: Posterscope Hyperspace

6. Madame Tussauds and Jonny Wilkinson

Madame Tussauds sought to capitalise on England's Rugby World Cup victory this year with its interactive model of the England hero Jonny Wilkinson. Hyperspace adapted 48-sheet posters around Twickenham on match days into goals and invited people to visit Madame Tussauds to emulate that winning kick.

Client: Madame Tussauds

Media agency: Carat

Outdoor specialist: Posterscope Hyperspace

7. Nescafe, Trinny and Susannah

This ambient element was part of a massive "start the day with great taste" campaign and supported an on-pack promotion to win a £10,000 shopping spree.

Client: Nestle

Media agency: MindShare

Outdoor specialist: Concord

8. Hitachi, Euro 2004

MediaCom's outdoor division, Outdoor MediaCom, used the European Football Championships to drive awareness of Hitachi's digital plasma TVs. To target the ABC1 business audience, plasma screens were situated in the departure zones of major European airports. Girls in referees' uniforms dispensed cards for a competition to win a Hitachi TVs.

Client: Hitachi

Media agency and outdoor specialist: Outdoor MediaCom/PSI Advertising

9. Fanta, Apple

The retail media specialists The Media Vehicle organised a giant inflatable Fanta Apple splashpool and a team of ambassadors to tour Sainsbury's stores inviting consumers to test the new Fanta variant and "taste the fun" in the splashpool.

Client: Fanta

Outdoor specialist: The Media Vehicle

10. Persil, "whiteness" aerial banner

Two planes flew every weekend in August, when people are most likely to be wearing white clothes, around target areas where there were likely to be high densities of people, including the Notting Hill Carnival and England versus West Indies at the Oval.

Client: Lever Faberge

Media agency: Initiative

Outdoor specialist: Concord

THE 10 BEST OUTDOOR INNOVATIONS.

1. Tesco TV

The rather predictable collapse of Forecourt TV left a bitter taste in the mouths of those advertisers that had sampled retail media. But in May, following trials in eight stores, Tesco created an in-store TV network across 100 of its biggest stores with a much more compelling offering. Screens were put up in appropriate aisles, creating a zoning effect, and more attention was paid to the content. Despite this, advertisers were initially cautious but Tesco seems to be on the right track.

2. Full-colour LED bus supersides, Viacom Outdoor

Sadly, no advertiser or agency has been brave enough to use this particular innovation yet, perhaps reflecting its cost, but the technique is undoubtedly eye-catching and engaging. This is a more sophisticated version of the Nike Scorpion "blue out of black" LED campaign that ran last year, but the use of colour LED technology adds an extra dimension.

3. Six-Motion, JCDecaux/Dynamic Imaging, Clear Channel

This year saw a new generation of lenticular technology. Unlike previous products where you had to move to see the image change, this innovation moves for you, providing an excellent, eye-catching storyboard for animation opportunities.

4. Moulded escalator panels, Viacom Outdoor

To celebrate Jack Daniel's 154th birthday, Viacom Outdoor created moulded escalator panel frames. These were located at key "drinking stations" such as Clapham Common, Leicester Square and Angel, and ran the length of the escalators. The moulded frames created a high impact for those sober enough to see them.

5. Opinionator, JCDecaux

Interactive capabilities on poster sites are nothing new but JCDecaux's Opinionator gives advertisers a more fun way to talk to consumers. By using press buttons on a six-sheet poster, people can vote or express an opinion on a designated topic, which has proved to be surprisingly compelling.

6. Elumin8, JCDecaux and Clear Channel

It wasn't only lenticular technology that was upgraded this year - illuminescent paper-printing methods also stepped up a gear. Elumin8 is a special vinyl that uses built-in electric charges to illuminate different parts of the poster in sequence. It was used to great effect for the launch of the Renault Modus.

7. Interactive Transvision, Maiden Outdoor

Maiden's substantial investment in its Transvision screens at key railway terminals must have played a large part in the company retaining the Network Rail contract for another ten years. The company, working with Posterscope, used these screens in a new way this year as a display for photographs taken with camera phones for Sony Ericsson and T-Mobile.

8. Contravision on taxi windows, Taxi Media

A new format was introduced into cabs this year with the launch of Contravision on the rear windows of taxis. The format was used for the UIP film Shaun of the Dead, an execution that won the Best Use of Taxis category at the Campaign Poster Awards.

9. Vibro-Sound bus shelters, Clear Channel

Musical bus shelters have been around for some time, but, in October, Clear Channel adapted the technique with a campaign for Tommy Hilfiger. The bus shelters used the glass as the soundboard in place of a loudspeaker, to amplify Beyonce Knowles singing Wishing on a Star. This produced a better quality sound and lowered the cost of entry to advertisers.

10. Showcase Squares, Viacom Outdoor

The launch of the Showcase Squares brought the first square poster format on the Tube and increased Viacom Outdoor's inventory. Seventy-five sites were selected in the highest traffic corridors for the launch client, Home Choice, and each had scrollers and time-sensitive chips to allow daypart advertising.

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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).