EE brand launch
EE brand launch
A view from Mike Troy

Think BR: Jumping out of the outdoor advertising box

We've seen some creative examples of outdoor ads in recent years; what will 2013 bring, asks Mike Troy, research director, Ipsos ASI.

We have seen some great examples of outdoor advertising recently. Seeing the press coverage of EE’s launch of its 4G network at Battersea Power Station reminded me of the power (excuse the pun) of advertising that breaks the mould to deliver a fantastic return on investment.

EE projected its logo onto Battersea power station and while this was undoubtedly an expensive campaign, the venue created a grand sense of scale to launch a new brand and the new 4G network.

The event created fantastic pictures and the imagery of an iconic landmark transformed using footage delivered via EE’s 4G network made for a great story.

Of course, EE isn’t the only brand that has used the power of outdoor to promote a launch or rebrand. In 2010 and 2011 insurance firm Aviva conducted its first global brand campaign ‘You Are the Big Picture’. The campaign used landmark buildings (including in 2011 the National Theatre) across six global cities (London, Paris, Warsaw, Singapore, Mumbai & Delhi) to project high impact images of some of its customers, employees, strategic partners and communities, telling their own personal stories.

Aviva sought to communicate that it understood that its business was less about policies and more about people; it gave customers a chance to interact with the brand and gave Aviva great content about its customers, against the backdrop of significant landmarks in key global cities.

These events nudged my own subconscious and reminded me of a previous projection on one of London’s iconic landmarks. It was a wet and windy 1999 - when Lads mags were still found on the bottom shelf - that FHM projected a naked Gail Porter onto the houses of parliament with a message to vote in its 100 sexiest women poll. 

There were reported to be just a few witnesses of the stunt on that rainy Sunday evening but it was estimated that some 40 million people were reached by the time the following media furore had died down. Life has certainly never been the same for Gail Porter. (I am not sure Ipsos Mori’s exit poll projection on to Big Ben could quite compete.)

Outdoor ads remain a popular way of gaining attention. The above are high profile examples of outdoor advertising that caught our attention; they were by no means spontaneous and all had been carefully planned. 

The campaigns amplified their return on investment through a unique or novel creative idea, quickly generating free media space courtesy of the national media coverage and social media buzz.

With return on investment continuing to be more and more closely examined, any execution within a media plan that can generate additional unpaid media airtime through amplification or re-transmission via word of mouth can really make a difference.

But as with all creative design, relevance and fit are key. And this is embodied no better than the feeling of standing at a cold and windy bus stop, thinking about what you are having for tea tonight… and hoping it could be chips. Because sometimes only chips will do. And that makes life just a little better. And most of the time that’s what ads are hoping to do. One nudge (hop, skip and a jump) at a time. Let’s see what 2013 brings to the quirky world of outdoor advertising.

Mike Troy, research director, Ipsos ASI