As befits an industry enjoying its status as the fastest growing
medium in display advertising, delegates at the Outdoor Advertising
Conference in Barcelona last week left with an upbeat message.
At a time when TV advertising is stuck in the doldrums with no growth,
the Outdoor Advertising Association can boast a hike of more than 21 per
cent on 1999 and spend in the first quarter of 2001 was up more than 19
per cent on 2000.
"At the last Outdoor Conference in Madrid three years ago, outdoor was
taking 6 per cent of the advertising cake, it is now taking 8 per cent
and we have our sights set on 10 per cent," David Pugh, the managing
director of Maiden Outdoor, said.
But Unilever's worldwide head of media, Alan Rutherford, was one of the
medium's fiercest critics. He called for the industry to think of itself
as a brand, and for closer contact between creatives and
Rutherford also called for common practices among European
Despite a spate of consolidation which has seen the emergence of
JCDecaux, Clear Channel and Viacom (the parent company of TDI) as the
three main players, he claimed that pan-European planning in the medium
was unnecessarily complex: "The UK is the most complex outdoor market in
the world," he said.
Responding to Rutherford, David Pugh referred to several examples of
media owners and specialists working together - new research from the
Henley Centre and the Billett Consultancy, which were both jointly
funded by the OAA. But he conceded that the industry needs to work
harder on proving the effectiveness of outdoor.
Ken New, the non-executive chairman of the industry's measurement
system, Postar, revealed two changes to the system. First, that it will
be extended to cover other outdoor media, not just roadside panels.
Second, that a new product, Postar Lite, will enable agencies and
clients to see how posters fit in with other media plans online.
Robert Campbell, the executive creative director of Rainey Kelly
Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, said he would like to see closer links between
media and creative factions. He said: "Clients should make agencies
jointly accountable for the success of the campaign."
Two other speakers - Mike Moran, Toyota's commercial director, and
Jeremy Bullmore of the WPP group - called for higher creative standards.
Moran said: "The growth of pan-European advertising has led to a
dumbing-down of the creative process." Bullmore said: "A poster that
no-one can decipher has to be the ultimate waste of money."