Creatives outdoors at Cannes

Campaign caught up with creatives at the Cannes Lions to discuss the opportunities in digital out-of-home, how things have evolved and what's next for the medium

Kate Stanners, chief creative officer, Saatchi & Saatchi London

How do you compare digital out-of-home with other media?
Digital out-of-home is different to out-of-home. It has come of age as a medium. And it’s interesting how it is starting to connect up with mobile more. It bridges this gap between print and film in a really interesting way. It has created the "third space".

Is technology outpacing creativity in digital out-of-home?
You can jump on a gimmick or you can make it work for your client and your brand, and not just for the sake of it. I think creativity in digital out-of-home is maturing, actually.

What are the biggest creative opportunities?
What we are starting to do now is to create stuff that is absolutely made for digital out-of-home rather than adapted – because it’s an important enough medium in itself.

Digital out-of-home is one of the most dynamic categories at Cannes and the one with a lot of diversity within it. It’s really exciting and a really hard one to win at.

What’s the future of digital out-of-home?
What I like about it as a broadcast medium is that it becomes something that can have a conversation with you.

It’s going to be really interesting how it connects with different devices, how it can be a voice on behalf of you and amplify people’s personal voices, and how it can be adaptive to who’s looking at it or to the weather, so that it is able to deliver incredibly relevant messages.

Creatives love it as a medium because it’s highly adaptive, it’s highly innovative and it’s very visible. It definitely is a medium that brings fame for brands and creatives, and that’s why in Cannes it’s a category that has exploded and moved on.

In the past year or two, we as an industry have seen its potential in a way that maybe we hadn’t before.

Gerry Human, chief creative officer, Ogilvy & Mather London

As part of the Cannes Lions Outdoor jury, what were the key themes you saw in creating great work?
My experience of Cannes was very different to last year’s as I was on the jury and was able to see some of the world’s best in out-of-home. The key themes? Simplicity is still the primary thing that works in outdoor, regardless of any type of technology.

It seems so obvious but simplicity is everything. The other theme was that ideas that actually make the world a better place are very important for the way people view advertising. Advertising needs to play a role higher than just selling something.

Is technology outpacing creativity in digital out-of-home?
In the best examples, you don’t even feel the technology, but it’s all there. People see outdoor almost as an event in the experiential sense – something they can engage with when they are not necessarily connecting with mass media but are just out there. Interestingly, two of the most awarded campaigns came from two of the biggest mobile technology companies: Samsung and Apple.  

Which part of the world is leading in digital out-of-home?
The 46 golds in Outdoor came from 13 countries. So what we are seeing is innovation on every corner of the globe.

Reed Collins, chief creative officer, Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong

What will digital out-of-home look like in five years’ time?
Everything’s going to be a screen. Digital out-of-home is your iPhone, your tablet, interactive billboard or a bright, shiny LED building.

I think tagging will become more prevalent and digital out-of-home will be a massive driver of that. Not just in a traditional sense; I’m talking more about embedding technology in objects, streets and places where it recognises where you are, just as Google Maps does.

Where in the world should we look for inspiration?
I think North America and Europe are far ahead of the curve in terms of technology driving creativity. There always seems to be a really interesting idea that is brought to life through digital out-of-home. One of my favourite was "love has no labels" for the Ad Council. It’s one location with one digital screen, but with technology augmenting that experience of eliminating stereotypes of sexuality and race.

What are the creative barriers?
The fact that there are none. Anything is possible – it’s quite a large hurdle for people to get over. They are driving blind a little bit.

What would be a breakthrough for the medium?
Possible scenarios would be more projection mapping. I think it will become more pervasive, more affordable and it will be covering every open space that people can sell on the planet.

Justin Tindall, executive creative director, Leo Burnett London

What’s so great about digital out-of-home?
What’s interesting is its distribution qualities. The fact that I can distribute in real time and interact with my consumer, and there is that dialogue between the medium and the consumer.

What are the creative barriers?
The challenges of being impactful and simple are still there. Creatively, those are and will remain the things that separate the great thinkers – those who can distil complicated thoughts into something beautifully simple.

And the opportunities for the future?
This year’s Outdoor Grand Prix winner, Apple’s iPhone 6 campaign, is a brilliant example of a platform facilitating co-creation – though I hate that phrase. That’s one of the real powers of digital out-of-home. Also, digital out-of-home is arguably the only broadcast medium now.

I went to Korea recently and what they are doing with outdoor there is just phenomenal. Coffee tables that charge your phone and send you messages; pavements where you can interact and upload your own imagery; screens in underground stations where you can buy all your shopping.

Historically, it maybe hasn’t felt as glamorous as some other media, but now digital out-of-home is one of the most exciting and interesting. It’s so much more than a passive piece of transmit advertising. It allows a loop between the brand and the consumer.

What’s great about DOOH?


"Clearly, the potential in this area is the way it can react to you personally. The fact that you might be in its proximity and the environment around you – the context of your moment – can be reflected in that advertising. That’s interesting. Normal, boring, interruptive nonsense isn’t interesting. Reflecting something that you give a monkey’s about – that’s cool." James Kirkham, global head of social and mobile, Leo Burnett


 "It can be relevant to the individual or relevant to the city. Which means you could potentially start to create stuff that adds to communities and cities, rather than stuff that interrupts cities and paints them with marketing." Andy Sandoz, creative partner, Havas Work Club



 "The most engaging thing about digital out-of-home is the fact that we can now interact with people not just in a facial-recognition sense but through connecting to mobile devices. We can link with people on a much more useful level." Ross Neil, executive creative director, WCRS