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OOH Gives Back: Over $400 Million

OOH Gives Back

Article by: Kim Ramser, Business Development & Industry Guru, DOmedia


Picture CaptionIt’s that time of the year again – last ditch effort to make our numbers, close out the books, and get as much done as possible so we can take some time off. Don’t forget buying presents, decorating, going out of town or having family visit. We are so rushed this time of year that it’s rare that we have time to reflect on the really important things.

Since this is the Holiday Issue, I thought it would be appropriate to focus on all of the good things our industry brings to the communities we serve. We really have some amazing people in the out of home industry. We all know that OOH is a great medium and that it really does work. For proof, take some time to look at all of the case studies and success stories on the industry websites. But, we as an industry also help solve crimes, help find missing children, help local police departments, help people in communities come together and feel good about themselves in challenging times. We are a charitable, giving industry, and we shouldn’t forget that.

Informing the Community about Safety Issues
The out of home industry, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, annually donates over $400 million in public service space across the US. This year, the Foundation for a Better Life is celebrating its tenth year with the Pass It On Campaign. This campaign has been motivating people across the nation to ‘€˜pass on’ core values and inspire others to be better. As of the beginning of 2011, the outdoor industry has donated an estimated value of over $200 million on over 87,000 outdoor displays to this campaign.

The Ad Council has been a great outdoor partner over the years. They have provided many relevant campaigns to communities across the nation. Some memorable characters have been Smokey Bear and McGruff, the crime-fighting dog, and Woodsy Owl. We as an industry donated over $250 million in ad space for the Ad Council’s public safety messages in 2010 alone. Their messages during the years have kept the public aware of dangers that are usually within society’s control. Here are some of the recent campaigns that have appeared on outdoor displays.

Anti-Texting Campaign
The anti-texting campaign, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reminds drivers about the dangers of texting while driving. Ad Council research shows that 82 percent of young adult drivers have read a standard text message while driving.

Buzzed Driving Campaigns
The Buzzed Driving campaigns have been alerting the public that even if you don’t think you are legally drunk, but only buzzed, you still shouldn’t be driving. You are more hindered than you think’€”even with just a drink or two.

Pet Adoption Campaign
Pet adoption is on the rise since the Ad Council’s Shelter Pet Project campaign started in 2009. According to the Ad Council, ‘€œthe percentage of dogs and cats who were adopted from shelters has risen from 27% to 29% in the last two years, and encouraging statistics show that euthanasia of shelter pets is down 10% since 2009. However, 2.7 million healthy and treatable pets are still losing their lives in shelters each year.’€

There are so many more campaigns we have contributed to that we would need a book to list them all. This is evidence that we as an industry are making a difference.

Catching Criminals
There are many stories in the news about how the industry has helped law enforcement solve crimes by helping catch elusive criminals. Out-of-Home advertising’s powerful medium can put a perpetrator’s face out in the community in a big way. Below are a few examples of how the medium has been used to help local authorities.

Erie, PA
The Erie Bureau of Police, in Erie, PA, will use donated billboard space to list most-wanted criminals in their community. They will feature criminals wanted for gun crimes. The Bureau is planning to use Lamar’s digital billboards available in the community, and hopes to be able to incorporate neighboring cities where Lamar has inventory, in case the criminal flees to another community.

Jacksonville, FL
In Jacksonville, Florida, Levie Bell was wanted for a sex crime. Police were tipped off and Levie was caught because a local citizen saw his face on a Clear Channel billboard and called the police to tell them where he has hiding. The Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office is going to continue using the billboards because they like the exposure and the idea of keeping their faces in front of the public.

Northern Ohio
The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force (NOVFT) used digital billboards to capture a sex offender who had failed to register as such. Bryant Newsom, who was originally arrested for the rape of a 16 year-old girl in 2000, was found by NOVFT when a resident who saw him on a billboard called in a tip. Newsom told authorities that he was thinking of turning himself in because so many people told him they had seen his face on the boards.

A robber in Indiana who robbed 11 banks, one credit union and a retail store in Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina, Indiana and Illinois, was sentenced to 26 life prison sentences. He was on billboards across eight states and was finally captured within two weeks after the campaign had started.

Community Disaster Relief
The OOH industry has always helped the Red Cross in a big way. This past year the focus has been on disaster relief to address the recent natural disasters that our country has endured. The organization has been calling for donations to assist people in the communities who have been affected by tornadoes, flooding, fires, and hurricanes.

The industry has also helped by alerting the public with emergency messages on evacuation routes, FEMA contact information, weather warnings and even deadlines to register for recovery assistance.

Finding Missing Children
Many are aware of the National Amber Alert that our industry provides when a child goes missing. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has transmitted more than 600 messages nationwide to help search for abducted children.

This year during the holiday season, while you are rushing around trying to make that last sale, close up year-end revenue numbers or make your holiday to-do list disappear, remember how great it feels to be part of an industry that does so much good!

If you would like to participate in these or any other public service campaigns, contact the Outdoor Advertising Association of America or any of the organizations mentioned above. Also, email us your Public Service case studies and creative to put in our DOmedia resources section.

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