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Open Canvas: the best in outdoor

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

Nicky Bullard, chairwoman and chief creative officer, MRM Meteorite

The sound of a smartphone hitting the ground screen-side down is a shattering experience. That’s why O2’s latest "Oops" out of home campaign is literally a cracking use of the medium. Not only is it simple, it made me laugh out loud, which a poster hasn’t done for a very long time. It’s also unexpected: focusing on the "Oops" moment by using apparently broken, cracked-looking billboards makes people do a double take. Posters normally stand neatly on their sites. Yes, we sometimes see the paper peeling off but we rarely see a wonky one.

The idea works well for OOH because of the scale: a poster is an "instant" medium, and this example is pretty darn instant (and huge). I’ve seen other elements of the campaign (eg TV spots, Instagram stories, Snapchat lenses) and none has the impact of OOH. It has achieved in three seconds what the TV ad (for the same message) tried to do in 30. It’s just a shame there weren’t more sites used. I love that lots of people didn’t realise these broken billboards were deliberate, despite the copy explaining it was for O2’s new screen-replacement offer.

One Twitter user tweeted: "It definitely isn’t [deliberate]. You’d never get it past health and safety…" That’s the best response any OOH campaign can have, showing how OOH can bring a creative idea and the brand behind it into my everyday world. I can walk past it. Look up. Take a picture. Tweet it. See it in my routine every day for as long as the campaign runs. I want to see more ads like this, that truly interact with the observer in a clever, humorous and ambitious way. Why not? Creatives love a poster – there shouldn’t be a block.

Sometimes maybe the media is chosen before the idea has come to light. Writing for a poster is a wonderful challenge. Ideally, you have to distil your thinking into three words or fewer and create something that stops people in their tracks. It’s hugely exciting.

Matt Davis, executive creative director, Red Brick Road

Such is the nation’s insatiable appetite for Premier League football that the TV audience is surely low-hanging fruit for the two main players, Sky and BT Sport.

Armchair football fans can’t get enough of the unscripted drama – frenetic, competitive, partisan and fame-filled catnip. But now, entering its third year as the sole other broadcaster, the challenges for BT Sport have, it appears, shifted. It now needs to be synonymous with sport, which means being a stand-alone broadcaster, not just a football-content-providing arm of a telecoms behemoth – because its sports portfolio has been substantially enriched.

BT Sport’s own narrative for the football soap opera clearly needed to be a more nuanced, meaty affair. But in addition to the Premier League, it now broadcasts UEFA Champions League, The Ashes, Aviva Premiership Rugby and UFC. That’s quite a roster, and it has lined up stars from each discipline to front its campaign.

So has it risen to the challenge? Very much so. The successful but blunt messaging and arresting football-focused imagery of the past two years has moved up a gear. Numerous OOH executions all appear under the weighty and memorable, "Where the best go head to head". Nice bit of metre, nod to the vernacular, and seven words. A solid, idea-infused line.

But the OOH really comes to life with the photography. It’s a simple, almost old-fashioned idea really: two stars from different sports, colliding on a pitch, a merging of their talents. Slick post-production means the eye sees the action take place seamlessly and naturally in one location. My favourite is Saracens lock Maro Itoje attempting a textbook tackle on the twinkle-toed footballer Eden Hazard. Who’ll succumb? Who knows?

That’s the most pulsating of the executions: BT Sport is where the best go head to head, and that’s all we need to know. Two other memorable executions feature Joe Root on the cricket pitch high-fiving Luis Suarez, and Wayne Rooney having been beaten at boxing by Nicola Adams – the ref is about to raise her arm and Wayne’s distraught.

What I really like is the split-second it takes to recognise people, meld the contrasting parts in your mind and create the image. This increases dwell time by a beat, making the OOH campaign cut through, big time.

Out of home: more relevant than ever

While many of the headlines about OOH in recent times have been about the digitisation of the media, the creative executions opposite remind us of the impact of a good idea, simply expressed, on a great big poster.

• More than 90% of all the UK’s OOH estate is still static and classic and, in total, its reach is on a par with TV. At the recent IPA TouchPoints launch, Les Binet spoke about the enduring importance of reach and how it explains 91% of effectiveness, so perhaps it is no surprise that OOH comes out only second to TV for reach. In addition, the effectiveness of OOH has been enhanced since the introduction of digital OOH.
• Younger audiences tend to spend even more time out of home – for millenials, it’s more than a fifth of their waking hours. Among 15- to 24-year-olds, a staggering 93% are more likely than average to recommend the things that they see advertised on the medium.
• So big ideas, a big canvas, big audience – what’s not to like? Gill Huber, head of marketing and communications, Posterscope
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