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The Future of Outdoor Advertising

Nadja Lossgott is a Creative Director at AMV BBDO in London. In 2010 she was part of the team that won a Black Pencil for the Trillion Dollar Flyer campaign, and followed up in 2015 with seven Pencils for Guinness’ Sapeurs. 

In the article below, Nadja explores the past, present and future of Out Of Home Advertising. Whether it’s digital billboards, branded experiences or traditional posters, Outdoor Advertising is here to stay. What’s more, Nadja argues, it will outlast other forms of media which are currently under threat.

Nadja Lossgot AMV BBDO Art Driector
Nadja Lossgot, AMV BBDO

‘Outdoor’ often feels like both advertising’s past and its future.

You can’t accuse outdoor of being reluctant to change. A quick look at the Outdoor award categories gives you a clue. There’s ambient, ambient digital screens, interactive outdoor experiences, live events, non-formatted digital outdoor, special builds. The list goes on.

Buskers have been used to release albums. Billboards have been turned into benches. Pepsi turned Uber Taxis into Back to the Future Deloreans. And the incredibly poignant New York Gun Store campaign was a pop-up store.

A recent piece I loved was BA’s brilliant ‘Magic of Flying’ billboard. The idea is like a roll-call of adland’s favourite buzzwords: real-time data, interactivity, some digital, and lots of collaboration. And it all comes together in a beautifully evocative ode to our childlike wonder for flight. It’s the kind of idea you just know is routinely invoked by CDs in every creative department, “give me some of that.”

BA Magic Of Flying
Magic of Flying, British Airways, OgilvyOne, Yellow Pencil, 2014

They’re the kind of ideas creatives love to make.

But the gift of new technology can also be a curse; we all know about adblockers. Here again, outdoor looks like the future.

Another one of my favourite pieces from last year (I’m not really going out on a limb here) was the ‘Nazis Against Nazis’ rally. A simple stunt, this piece of outdoor transcended its medium, slipped past the adblockers and found it’s way into the news and popular culture. Just like Security Moms did. Just like Gaytms. And just like the Marathon Walker for Water for Africa. It’s just a woman entered into a race carrying a bucket of water and a message that this is how far women walk for water. So Simple.

Nazis Against Nazis , GGH Lowe / Grabarz & Partner, Yellow Pencil, 2015

It’s all quite meta. Is it the event that counts? Or is it the after image that counts, as the idea travels around the internet landing up on blogs, Facebook feeds and news sites?

And then there’s advertising’s past. The intrusive, inflexibile and mute billboards. They feel like throwbacks to the old way of doing things. A flat image with an unyielding rule that the consumer can take in no more than eight words (unless they’re Economist readers). How boring. How old school. Until you remember 2015's ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ campaign. Simple, traditional and utterly un-missable pieces of art in the urban landscape.

Shot on an iPhone 6
Photo: Esther Havens

It proves our past can be our friend too.

There is a piece of research that has always stayed with me. In focus groups people will remember seeing a brand’s new television ad, even though no such ad has been on air. It turns out that what people are recalling is the billboards they pass each and every day. People don’t forget billboards. Although they sometimes mislable them.

They might not be shiny, they might not be new, but billboards are real workhorses. We shouldn’t dismiss them. The other good thing about billboards is you can’t adblock the view.

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.

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