Outdoor scores every time; re-count demanded of Media 360 votes

Those of you who were at Media 360 in Manchester last week will know that TV won the audience vote as the medium with the brightest future during “The Great Media Ideas Lab” session.

Eric Newnham, Chairman of Kinetic, made the case for Outdoor and although the assembled media gurus didn’t vote for the right media, I would like to give my view on some points he presented.

Eric argued that unlike other media channels, Outdoor’s fundamental strength has been there from the start, hasn’t changed and will always be there. With Outdoor the audience has little selectiveness or control over the advert being delivered, they have no choice.

People can actively avoid other media, if they wish to do so. TV shows can be pre-recorded on kit such as Sky+ and commercials can consequently be easily skipped. Newspapers and magazines are chosen and read for their editorial content; page turning means many ads won’t get their message home. Radio is challenged by newer wireless technology more suited to the consumer’s desire to listen to uninterrupted coverage of their choice of music and/or speech, not to ignore the BBC’s dominance for ad-free listening.

Outdoor is there in your everyday life, you are not asked to change anything and you can’t do anything to change it, perhaps apart from a small number of anti-advertising guerrilla’s defacing it. Outdoor doesn’t steal your time.

ITV’s unfortunate slip of running a commercial in full HD just as Stevie Gerrard filled the onion bag shows how vocal consumers are about interruptions to their enjoyment, or in this case the torture of watching that particular match.

Current media thinking suggests conversations with customers are the primary aim of most brands and that interactive and engaging advertising is the best way to cash in on this ever-shifting change in consumer behaviour.

Outdoor can compete with the best of other media in utilising technology to give a more interactive engagement, think of Digital OOH and its ability to display a time-sensitive message or the possibilities for delivering ad-funded content to mobile devices based on your location and wants.

Outdoor has proven it can stimulate conversations, not just during the recent election campaign. Anti-God posters, and the corresponding Pro-God riposte, obviously generated a huge number of conversations based on the amount of noise they created and the number of complaints these campaigns received.

Now although I wouldn’t have voted for Eric based on the dodgy photo he used as his final slide, making him look only marginally less shiny than Disco Dave, his assessment of the prospects for Outdoor as an advertising vehicle, now and in the future, are in my view spot-on.

PS Have you heard of Department S? Do you remember “Is Vic There”? Does it matter? It does to Edward Lloyd-Barnes, well-known media luminary and Department S lead singer/MC. The band has re-formed and in preparation for some summer festivals are gigging at the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen this Thursday 17th June from 8.00 pm, the support act are TV21, only £10 on the door. I’ll be there.

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    Whereas I agree with the argument that outdoor doesn’t ask for the permission of the audience to look at it, and TV ads can be skipped using PVRs – this is unfortunately the same old argument that has been churned out for the last 5 years. It is the stock response to why advertisers should spend money on outdoor, you can’t turn it off, you can’t turn the page, you can’t change the channel, blah blah blah. The simple fact is that outdoor is mainly distributed in to highly condensed city centre locations where your one outdoor ad is competing with another 20 that are all in your eyeshot at any given time, and all shouting for your attention. Unfortunately all the images blur in to one and eventually your brain switches off. With TV advertising – yes we will all skip through the majority of the ads, but there will always be the occasions where you don’t skip through or shock horror – you may be watching something as it goes out, rather than pre recorded on Sky+. It is in these instances that the message has a chance to get through in a way that outdoor permanently struggles to achieve. If you want to improve outdoor for the advertiser you have to give their campaign a chance of being seen, rather than just adding to the sea of urban wallpaper that is currently out there.

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    Eric had a sly attempt at raising the TV ad-skipping monster as well, but he was a bit more circumspect than you’ve been Ivan, possibly because he was worried about physical retribution from me. Of course people skip some TV ads, ignore posters, turn print pages, block banners etc. We have to humbly accept that all advertising happens in the periphery of our lives and we need to make it engaging and entertaining enough to draw people in. And that’s what good TV ads do. Econometrics have been proving TV’s power for years and now we can also show the instant effect of TV on search and website visits. I think that’s what persuaded the audience. Effectiveness not exposure.

    I did actually say that TVwas enormously improved by adding other media closer to the point of sale such as 6 sheets. I think understanding and championing integration is a more fertile route than slagging off other media.

    By the way, you can only skip TV ads if you’re watching pre-recorded stuff which represents only 6.9% of what we watch on average, and 16% in homes with DTRs. Social media is encouraging even more live viewing.

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    Whilst the Outdoor and TV heavyweights slug it out, perhaps another angle to the debate might be useful?

    The reason why most people filter out commercials, whether using FF button/PVR Ad filter or just not noticing what’s in front of their noses as they traverse the planet, is because the creative communication is so weak, it’s just not worth spending a second of your life on.

    I have this theory, that if you stopped 1000 people in the street right now and asked them to name the last advertisement they saw off the top of their head, they would all really struggle to name anything and would have to think very hard before they could give you any kind of answer.

    I don’t think this is because advertising doesn’t work. I think this is because bad advertising doesn’t work. Unfortunately, most of the commercials on TV, on outdoor, in the press, on radio, on-line and anywhere else you can think of are just so utterly mediocre, they fail to demand the viewers attention. (Nike, even in these football saturated times, you are completely exonerated)

    So much time and energy has been invested in recent years in trumpet the value of one media channel over another and to ram this down client’s throats with such hackneyed old chestnuts masquerading as rationale, they have little time left for a really important part of the job which is to make their communication is really brilliant and make it perform the required job precisely.

    Failing this part of the task means that irrespective of the channel selected, the money is wasted all the same. BTW, econometrics is a dark art, with so much room for interpretation, it’s virtually impossible to separate the truth from the lies. However, you never see a poor econometrician these days – they always have the best car in the car park – think about that clients. Think about this also: if you create something brilliant, people will find their way to it. These days, we have the tools to direct friends/family to something marvellous very quickly. They are called social networks – what used to be called ‘word of mouth’.

    Someone I once knew went to a University once and the message from the Dean to the newly graduated students was ‘Do Different’. One enterprising student painted ‘Do Different’ on the roof of their car and drove it in to the University lake – a vision which has always stuck in my mind. Perhaps a good lesson for advertisers?

    Just in case you think I’m a whinging creative with a chipped shoulder, I’m not. I’ve been a media practitioner for 20 years. However, I’ve always tried to remember that we are servants of a greater god – the god of getting great ideas in front of people. Trouble is, great ideas are in short supply these days as clients spend most of their time agonising over the choice of medium when they should be concentrating on the big picture – wherever it ends up being displayed.

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    No amount of puff can make a turkey fly. So, yes of course, I agree, Reynard, that excellent creative work is vital. You might have seen some research that we launched this week with the IPA proving that campaigns that receive creative awards are at least 11 times more effective in hard business terms than those that don’t. 11 times. That’s across any medium. So I think we’re doing our bit to promote fantastic creativity with this sort of thing and our bi-monthly creative awards, the Thinkboxes.
    Actually, we do go out in the street and ask people what their favourite ad is. We don’t specify a TV ad but 99 times out of a 100 they choose a TV ad – and usually a current one at that, and they don’t seem to have any difficulty thinking one up. If you’d like to see those Vox Pops just let us know.

  • Grilla Login

    Dave – I suspect we both grew up – u from a boy, me from a chimpy – on a steady diet of brand mnmonikers, both jingle + tag line that have been adopted + adapted, 2 a greater or lesser degree, by kids and grown-ups across the nation across the years. I bet we could sit up all night amusing each other with them…

  • Chris Worsley

    a good musical ‘logo’ always works a treat too. Just ask Direct Line or Intel. A million housewives every day can attest to that.

  • Grilla Login

    Every1’s a fruit + nut case – Me especially.

  • Kevin Gordon

    Dave, tell us how you came up with that Lipsmackin’ line?
    Was it a Click Clunk?
    I know that’s how Dave and Eddie came up with Beaver Espania for Club 18-30.

  • omikron ceti

    So that’s where the beef is.

  • Dave Trott

    Hi Kevin,
    Nope, stone cold sober.
    It was pretty much my first ad at BMP.
    The brief was so long with so many things to say: refreshing, modern, young, energising, delicious, bubbly, stylish, I couldn’t get them all in one line. 
    So I thought what if it was one huge long line.
    Then I remembered Tom Wolfe’s book “Candy coloured tangerine flake streamline baby.”
    Then I remembered a DJ on pirate radio who used  to talk about a record as “A real knuckle-cracking thigh-slapping foot-stomping head-shaking toe-tapping rocker”.
    And I jut put the two together, and my boss (John Webster) loved it and made it all happen.

  • Kevin Gordon

    Thank you very much indeed!
    What a wonderful story!THAT’S what advertising’s all about.
    And that was your very FIRST ad for BMP!

  • Grilla Login

    Dave – do your shiny shins ever show?

  • Dave Trott

    ‘Shiny shins’ ?

  • Grilla Login

    “Your shiny shins will never show” [guy stomping his foot, trying 2 make his non-slip socks come down] DDB, when BB was still around.

  • Dave Trott

    Impressive Grilla, very well remembered.

  • Grilla Login

    Thanks Dave – I have the memory of an elephant whose name is er… er.

  • Peter Gunn

    Nice one, Dave.

  • Kevin Gordon

    A friend of mine used to say:”I’m having a Senior Moment”.

  • john woods

    Would you ask for the client to stick to saying one thing now and if so would that put paid to ‘lipsmakin…’ before it would have had the chance to live and breathe?

  • Dave Trott

    Of course a client/planner/suit should always reduce the brief to a single, simple thought.
    But they often can’t or won’t do that.
    In which case we have to find a creative way around the problem.

  • odette brightmore

    Don’t forget the annoying but oddly compelling: “Do the shake n vac and put the freshness back!”