Media: Double Standards - 'Araldite's car made me want to work in outdoor'

Two outdoor media owners talk about how digital is changing the medium, why the billboard will survive and what attracted them to the sector.

CRAIG WILLS - HEAD, OPEN @ JCDECAUX

- Are outdoor media owners investing enough money in creativity?

I'm not sure what "enough" means, but we are definitely committed through the development of sites such as the Torch Tower on the M4, the global roll-out of our Innovate proposition and the setting up of OPEN @ JCDecaux. They are all in place to ensure creativity runs through our veins for the benefit of clients and consumers.

- How can outdoor media owners attract new advertiser demand for the traditional billboard?

It's important to put this question into context: all the top-100 companies already use outdoor in some form as part of their communication mix, so the challenge is to maintain and grow our share. To achieve this, we will keep delivering our promises to clients, developing our portfolio and listening to our clients' needs.

- How has the development of digital formats changed the outdoor market?

It has propelled outdoor from being a purely passive, one-dimensional medium into a fully interactive opportunity and opened up the opportunity for real-time messaging. Recent digitally fuelled campaigns have delivered more than 500,000 physical interactions over two weeks.

- Are outdoor companies doing enough to produce research that demonstrates outdoor is effective and accountable?

Yes. JCDecaux was a founder partner of Postar and has continued pushing since then. We are the only outdoor media owner partner with BBC Daily Life and IPA Touchpoints. We have econometric partnerships and work openly with clients and agencies to build and develop bespoke research as part of our day to day.

- Which piece of work produced by your division in the past 12 months have you been most proud of?

I'm proud of all of our output, but our pitch work has been cracking - delivering beyond the expectation of the agency or client and sometimes raising a smile makes it worthwhile.

- How closely does your team work with outdoor specialists and media agencies?

Extremely closely. OPEN @ JCDecaux also has a remit to engage key communication people outside of specialists and media agencies.

- What innovations can we expect to see coming out of your division in the next year?

I can't give that away; needless to say, we will be involved in anything that is happening out of home.

- What attracted you to working in the outdoor industry?

The massive changes in the way people are living their lives, large portions of that life being spent out of home, democratisation of design and the rise in people's interest and opinion regarding public spaces makes for an interesting landscape in which to fuse commercial messages and develop consumer relationships.

- What is the most exciting thing about your job?

There is no template; clients and agencies (creative and media) all want fresh thinking.

- What types of media do you consume?

BBC 6, Gardener's World, Planet Earth, 105.1 FM, Channel 4 News, Vice, cntraveller.com, Observer Music/Food, Have I Got News for You, Rossy on a Saturday morning.

SIMON WARDELL - PROJECT MANAGER, CLEAR CHANNEL CREATE, CLEAR CHANNEL UK

- Are outdoor media owners investing enough money in creativity?

The larger media owners have long recognised the importance of creativity and innovation to our clients. The existence of departments such as Clear Channel Create, dedicated to getting the most from the medium through existing or new technology, reflects this.

- How can outdoor media owners attract new advertiser demand for the traditional billboard?

The constant improvements in illumination and quality have already led to a significant increase in demand for billboards. We are seeing traditional TV advertisers such as Andrex investing in all formats of outdoor, including billboards. As with smaller formats, billboards can be used selectively for their local and environmental value as well as for broadcast campaigns.

- How has the development of digital formats changed the outdoor market?

Digital's growth is good for outdoor and will continue, particularly as the technology costs come down and multiple messages become a reality. However, what clients are most interested in are sites in great locations that provide the right audiences - and this is already amply provided by traditional posters.

- Are outdoor companies doing enough to produce research that demonstrates outdoor is effective and accountable?

The industry has invested in highly sophisticated outdoor measurement systems. In addition, Clear Channel UK offers the Research Monitor, run with Millward Brown. It offers more than 700 case studies, numerous bespoke research projects and the facility for pre-testing, allowing creative changes before the campaign is posted.

- Which piece of work produced by your division in the past 12 months have you been most proud of?

There have been so many that it's hard to choose. A recent campaign for Buena Vista Home Entertainment's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe DVD launch stands out. It's not every day that you are asked to make it snow inside a six-sheet bus-shelter.

- How closely does your team work with outdoor specialists and media agencies?

Very closely indeed. Breathing life into a great creative idea is only half of the story. We work hand-in-hand with specialists and agencies to deliver outstanding creative ideas across all formats that meet clients' briefs.

- What innovations can we expect to see coming out of your division in the next year?

We are looking at solutions that use high technology to interact with audiences - from digital to Bluetooth to advanced lighting technology. Watch this space ...

- What attracted you to working in the outdoor industry?

At college, I read a case study on the Araldite special build carried out by More O'Ferrall, where it stuck a car to the side of a billboard, and I remember thinking how impactful it was. The fact I'm now responsible for making such things happen confirms I made the right choice.

- What is the most exciting thing about your job?

Knowing that the next brief could be the new Araldite.

- What types of media do you consume?

I get my news from the BBC website, newsnow.co.uk and, of course, football365.com. At home, I'm a Sky+ convert and generally put my appointment-to-view programmes such as 24 and The Apprentice on series link. While this lets me skip breaks, in the case of Sony Bravia it allowed me to rewind and watch the ad three times in a row.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

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).