Mike Baker, CEO, Outdoor Media Centre
Mike Baker, CEO, Outdoor Media Centre
A view from Mike Baker

Think BR: The greatest show on earth

London 2012 is yet another reason for outdoor to celebrate, writes Mike Baker, CEO, Outdoor Media Centre.

Notwithstanding the Zil lanes, the G4S fiasco, and the disappointment for Mark Cavendish, we are already in the throes of a visual spectacle like no other on the planet. I couldn’t be more excited.

For a year I’ve been holding tickets to a bunch of events starting with badminton last Saturday, and I’ll be glued to the TV coverage of the rest.

Talk about changing the face of London - athletes from 200 countries are everywhere you look, Games visitors throng the streets, and the sponsors are making the most of their association.

On a trip down from the office in Dorset St. to the IPA in Belgrave Square, I counted 30 sponsors or partners on buses, taxis, billboards and bus shelters. It’s the best way for sponsors and other advertisers to gain brand recognition.

That’s because events are a great boost to outdoor, and outdoor conversely gives a great boost to advertisers.

In these tough economic times, we have been blessed with three global events, what with the Diamond Jubilee, the European Championships, and now London 2012.

People want to feel good and have reason to celebrate, and brands want the warm emotional association these events can bring; it’s a marriage made in heaven.

So that is certainly a contributory factor to advertisers supporting outdoor in Q2, and the same support will underpin a strong Q3 for the outdoor media owners.

Despite a rather slow start in 2011’s auction, which never quite lived up to the hype, sponsors have come good for the Games. Around one in every five sites is a sponsor.

Most of them have strong showings which combine packages of standard sites and one-off spectacular specials.

Adidas is all over buses and six sheets, Visa’s Flow copy is massive in airports, tube and taxis. Coke dominates stations and roadside specials, Lloyds’ animated people play all sorts of sports at Stratford.

BT and Panasonic have put their markers down on large format. EDF has turned the Tube orange. P&G has tried clean ads on buildings and banners for Gillette. McDonald's reminds us everywhere that we all make the Games.

And if you buy any other phone than the Samsung Galaxy 3 I’ll be astonished, so ubiquitous is the ad copy. GE is no different, and UPS, and Links, and now Cadbury’s have made a late charge. BMW liveried cars are much in evidence on the streets.

The list goes on. Outdoor is the active space, where everything happens.

Now I fully expect to see those self-same advertisers in press, on TV and on the radio. It goes without saying they’ll be using other media too.

But when advertisers make a record of the Games, when they want visual proof that their brands were woven into the fabric of our capital, when they look for the wow factor, it will be the outdoor ads which deliver the best illustration.

Logos and brand insignia recognisable to all 10 million visitors, not just the native speakers, but a lingua franca for the world, because it’s the same qualities which make outdoor ads the quintessence of a brand message; simple, colourful, visual, memorable. Show and tell. The greatest show on earth in more ways than one. Impressions that last.

Meantime let’s all hope that the Games go very smoothly, and that team GB puts in a strong performance. And the impressions that remain? May they all be positive ones. And may they last a long, long time.

Mike Baker, CEO, Outdoor Media Centre