Open Canvas: standing out from the crowd

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

Gabi Mostert, deputy creative director, Iris Worldwide

Oh, Canada. I adore your weird, charming ways. I also adore your PM, who has frequented many licentious dreams of mine. Alas, you’re here to read about OOH and not my personal ‘OHHHS’, so I’ll get on with it.  

Recently, bids for Amazon’s second global headquarters triggered an onslaught of attention from different North American and Canadian cities, all vying for Amazon’s love, community investments and thousands of jobs. 

Some cities offered gifts. Others offered rich tax breaks. Tucson offered a 21ft tall saguaro cactus. But Calgary did it best, invading Amazon’s home city of Seattle with a glorious 200-piece out of home campaign encompassing billboards, 100ft banners and chalk graffiti. 

Aptly titled "Hey Amazon", the campaign was aimed directly at Amazon employees, who will be voting as part of the company’s final decision and all live and work in the area. Appearing in and around Amazon’s campus, while executives began evaluating the 238 bids, was a stroke of genius that could be achieved only using OOH. 

Devised by experience design agency Critical Mass, the campaign used OOH in the boldest, most colourful way, infiltrating the local culture and giving people something to smile about. 

The visuals featured a rugged, outdoorsy man gazing right into your soul and some delightful copy, saying things like: "Hey Amazon. We’d change our name for you. Calmazon? Amagary? Love, Calgary" and "Hey Amazon. We lost our rain jacket in 1988. Oh Well. Love, Calgary".

The fresh tone and art direction of the campaign went to some lengths to bust popular misconceptions about Calgary being too old and boring for an innovative company like Amazon to possibly call home. 

Unfortunately, Calgary failed to make the shortlist of cities for Amazon HQ2. But I’m giving it 150 points for effort, visual impact and using the words "fight" and "bear" on a billboard.

Gemma Phillips, creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi

It’s not often you see a poster that holds something back. Quite often, when a client sees a poster site, they see a giant canvas ripe for filling. The thing I like about this Bose poster is its restraint; it gives you just enough to fill in your own backstory. Bose is obviously a premium brand, and we can all imagine how there could have quite easily been a conversation about some "premium" casting. Perhaps one of the Beckham brood  could have been chosen to stare wistfully into the distance. But we all know it would never have struck the same chord as this young man. 

Instead, we see this everyday underdog who, against all odds, got a kiss from a mysterious red-lipstick-wearing girl. He can’t believe his luck and it’s written all over his face. We’re in the few moments after it happened and the boy wants to prolong this winning feeling by listening to his favourite track in the best possible way. The subtle look of pride on his face as he tries to suppress a smile makes it feel like a real captured moment and not what it actually is: a set-up for an ad campaign. 

So the casting gets a big tick, but what about the art direction? The headline could have just been thrown on the page and the ad would still have worked, but I love how it goes the extra mile and draws parallels to the product by linking one half of the headline to the other. It’s perfectly balanced and perfectly even, just as I can imagine the sound quality is. In the simplest and neatest of ways, it says a lot about the product without actually saying anything at all.

I noticed this poster at my local station and it immediately stood out  for all the right reasons. It feels like there might be more executions to this – I’d love to see the rest of them.



Amid continued media fragmentation and complexity, OOH still manages to deliver high-impact communication to over 90% of the population, and thanks to better digital and dynamic capabilities, we can deliver more effective and relevant campaigns.

In 2018 we expect new initiatives in data, technology and OOH infrastructure to drive this further, meaning digital OOH will be able to reach 50% of the population.

• Even more brands will activate OOH campaigns using either first or third party-data in their campaigns. Using the ever-growing DOOH inventory, these consumer insights will help inform smarter campaigns, which are served to the audience in real-time.

• Automation in 2018 will mean better and more efficient buying ability, significant reduction in lead times, and speeding up activation. Campaigns will be dynamically scheduled in a fraction of the time, with creative content changing based on more complex data triggers.

• There will be more collaboration with local authorities to transform the OOH landscape to beyond just ad-space. New formats, such as InLink UK include public utilities such as free calls and wifi. These allow brands to engage in a value exchange, by enhancing the space for the audience, in return for brand awareness and consideration.

Nick Halas, head of data & innovation, Posterscope


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