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Open canvas: best out of home

Two experts pick their favourite out of home campaigns and explain why their chosen work makes the most of the medium

Nicolas Roope, executive creative director, Poke London 

When you put art in a gallery you kind of kill it. We have to create these white boxes so art’s many subversions don’t spill out onto the streets, undermining normality and society.

The frame around a poster can be seen to do much the same thing, demarcating the message from the legitimate architecture of the humdrum around it. A safe window.

It also frames a legacy, some bad old habits that no longer fit the connected world. A shame, because printed OOH ads make a disproportion­ately strong impression on millennials – surprised, I suppose, by how an image can just sit there, not swiping, refreshing or animating. 

We often hear that we should "think outside the box" but, more often than not, thinking within its constraints is no less creative or fruitful. In fact, that poster frame is arguably the world’s most prolific of all creative canvases. 

Tourism Ireland’s 2016 "Doors of Thrones" campaign by Publicis London really impressed me. What so easily could have been a lame print ad engrained itself in Northern Ireland’s story, driving tourism around the region. It was a lesson in how a physical object can be responsive and alive, and how a campaign can be more than just the conveyance of information and emotion.

Using similar logic, in 2017 the team created a 77m-long tapestry, again exquisite in craft and detail. In many aspects this is like a poster; flat, with pictures and stories across its canvas. But the tapestry is conscious of its historical references and significance. 

The tapestry turns an anodyne surface into a tourist attraction. A day out.

Connectedness is not exclusive to cyberspace. Its tentacles reach into everything. So when conceiving an idea that engages and connects, it’s critical to get out of the frame, conceptually. We use so many resources and spend so much on ads, why wouldn’t we try to lay down those vital cultural connections if we could? And why do we have to stray from traditional formats to do this? 

Caitlin Evans, senior account planner, MBA

Dear "OK Cupid DTF",

I love you. I loved you when I first saw you and I keep on falling deeper.

It might seem strange that I’m writing a love letter given you are an outdoor ad for a dating website, but you’ve caused something strange to come over me and I’m feeling all old-fashioned.

Your "Dating deserves better" campaign that aims to redefine the acronym DTF, which is currently used in dating profiles to mean "Down To Fuck", has got me. You’re showing how people can redefine it as sweeter somethings like "Down To Farmers market", "Down To Fall head over heels" and "Down To Feel out the dancefloor".

While other dating platforms are likely to ask if I’m DTF in an exhausting frenzy of rapid photo evaluation and sex-crazed screen-swiping, you’re asking me if I’m "Down To Floss". 

And you know what? I am. At last, a dating platform that knows what I need. There’s something about standing next to the one you love at the end of the day with toothbrushes in your mouths, staring silently into each other’s eyes through the bathroom mirror. I like that you’ve made the small things sexy. I think we
get each other. I think we can get along. 

You make the world (of dating) fresh, and I hope others see it too. I hope you change expectations and behaviours toward non-gyrating, more peaceful gratification.

Your aesthetic makes my eyes sing – you’re an art gallery, an outdoor Tumblr blog, a 10-foot monument to proper love. You’ve used serious à la mode artists from Toiletpaper magazine and you look amazing, but they don’t overshadow your story. You wear the haute couture, it doesn’t wear you. You’re new and surprising.

Outdoor is perfect for you. Like a good date you’ve been thoughtfully crafted, your grandness makes my heart beat and I can’t swipe you away (not that I’d ever want to).

OK Cupid, your arrow has stuck.

The aesthetic makes my eyes sing- it's a 10-foot monument to proper love

Digital out of home: Three key trends to watch out for in 2018

This year will be a tipping point for the outdoor industry. For the first time digital revenues are forecast to exceed those of traditional, with digital reaching 50% of the UK adult population every week* (more than both magazines and national print**).

This maturity means advertisers are demanding more of digital OOH and, as such, the industry is making strides to meet expectations. Key trends to watch out for in 2018 include: 

• Creativity: the dynamic capabilities of digital OOH allow for the creation of tens – or thousands – of pieces of copy for one campaign, allowing for smarter communica­tion between brand and consumer. Expect an increasing number of outdoor ads to refer to location, weather conditions, audience, time of day and traffic – all in the one frame.

• Data: third-party data sets from the likes of EE and Transport for London have successfully powered dynamic OOH campaigns. In 2018 there will be an increase in the implementa­tion of client first-party data to allow brands to use digital OOH to talk to customers with more personalised and relevant messaging, but still do so with the traditional scale associated with the OOH medium.

• Mobile: the tacit link between mobile and OOH will become more pronounced. Mobile location data will increasingly inform and educate OOH planning, as the behaviours of consumers will be tracked anonymously throughout their day.

Lee Mabey, agency strategy director, Posterscope