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Traditional vs Alternative OOH: You Decide


As many already know, this week marks the 56th Annual Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the largest competition for advertising creativity in the world. And new this year: judges are focusing more on actual business results of the entries instead of relying on creativity alone.

This week, a trend revealed itself among the Outdoor Lions winners, a trend that appears to represent the out-of-home industry as a whole. In past years, traditional out-of-home–such as billboards and street furniture–has dominated the winner’s pedestal. But the times are changing.

Out-of-home advertising used to refer mainly to one type: traditional forms. But that’s before the introduction of digital screens and internet access for the masses. If this year’s Outdoor Lions revealed anything, it’s that out-of-home isn’t what it used to be. What was once limited to a static, one-way message is continuously evolving into an interactive experience that not only targets an audience, but involves them as well.snapshot-2009-06-26-13-01-23.jpg

The Outdoor Grand Prix runner-up (that only lost by 1 vote), the “Dig Out Your Soul” campaign promoting Oasis’ new CD, included street musicians performing some of the album’s unreleased tracks in the subway stations of NYC. It was creative, innovative, and got people’s attention. By utilizing the outdoor space like they did, the campaign grew exponentially when passersby began taking pictures and videos, later posting them on the internet and sharing them with friends and family.


Another interesting entry was HBO’s Big Love interactive billboard which won a Gold Lion. According to the entry’s presentation board,

“Everyone has something to hide. HBO’s show Big Love is about a large polygamous family leading complex lives full of deception and lies. To promote it, we developed interactive audio billboards featuring everyday people (not characters from the show) with jacks built into their heads. You could use your headphones (or ones handed out by our street teams) to plug in and hear their secret thoughts. These ranged from alcoholism to gambling addiction to an overweight man who wears a slimming girdle to a woman who secretly hates her baby and what it’s done to her life. The boards also featured a jack by the logo with a promo of the clips from the new season.”

What used to be an industry centered around billboards with one-way messaging has now become one in which limitations have all but dissolved. This year’s Cannes Lions winners & runners-up redefine out-of-home as we know it by developing innovative campaigns capable of interacting with consumers.

2009 OBIE Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to all of the recently-named OBIE Award winners, merit winners, and finalists!  This year’s participants all showed a great deal of creativity in the out-of-home space, but a few of them in particular caught my eye.

McDonald’s had a strong advertising campaign, winning two separate awards for both their “Always Fresh Coffee” and “Fresh Daily Eggs” billboards.  The first of the two shown high above Time’s Square, a spout continuously pouring fresh coffee into a cup several stories below (I wonder where all the coffee goes after making its big NYC debut . . . ).  The second involved a large egg that cracked open at 6:00 a.m.–when they begin serving breakfast–to reveal an over-easy egg, but closed again at 11:00 a.m. when breakfast ends. Between the two billboards, Leo Burnett Chicago took home two “Individual Execution- Traditional Billboard” awards as well as recognition for their Special F/X.



Another interesting use of out-of-home came from BBDO New York & Proximity Canada for Gillette Fusion Power, which took home the OBIE Award for “Individual Execution- Street Furniture / Transit / Alternative.”  As seen in the pic below, the agencies made creative use of a zamboni by attaching a larger-than-life Gillette razor to the back of it as it swept across the ice.gillette.jpg

One of the more interactive campaigns came from Leo Burnett Toronto for James Ready Beer who vows to try to keep their prices at $1 a beer.  To do so, they needed to lower billboard costs and decided to look to their consumers for help.  By offering up their billboards, consumers became “celebrities for the day” by sending in pictures to be posted on the giant signs.  Underneath the images read, “Thanks ____ for keeping J.R. a Buck.”  Consumers and judges alike loved the campaign, awarding them “Best of Show” and “International.”  Click here to see the YouTube video.jamesready.jpg

All of this year’s award winners show that creativity and innovation in the out-of-home advertising industry are still on the rise.  To find more information on the rest of this year’s OBIE Award winners, go to the OAAA website at

T-Mobile Takes Over Train Station With Spontaneous Dance


Nothing else can put a smile on your face quite like a mob flash dance made of several hundred strangers when you’re least expecting it.  On January 15th, London’s Liverpool Street Station was transformed into a massive dance floor thanks to T-Mobile.

The tagline, ‘€œLife’s for Sharing,’€ is exactly how you feel after watching the YouTube video that was shot with hidden cameras.  What begins with a handful of people quickly molds into an entire train station gettin’ down (grandmas and mohawk rockers alike) to the upbeat music blaring overhead.  Intrigued onlookers’€”no doubt questioning their sanity’€”filmed the whole event via cell phones to later share with family and friends.


Kudos to T-Mobile, and agency Saatchi & Saatchi, for giving us something to laugh at and talk about . . . which was probably the point.  I also love that they thought outside the silos (is it online . . . guerrilla . . . out of home?) and instead focused on building a connection between the experience and the brand, using all the relevant tools at their disposal.

Although many people are criticizing T-Mobile and Saatchi & Saatchi for using regurgitated material, I say anything that brings huge numbers of people together in a way that makes us all feel good just by watching it is a success.  After all, the very message here is that T-Mobile makes it possible for you to share any meaningful moment with the people that matter most.

Orange Barrel Media wins OBIE

nationwide-wallscape-obie.jpgSpecial congrats to Columbus’ own Pete Scantland and the entire team at Orange Barrel on their 2008 OBIE win for their Nationwide “Paint Spill” wallscape. Who says Columbus isn’t on the cutting edge of advertising! Way to go, guys!!

AAAA Tradeshow was a DO hit

dofloor-graphic.jpg While we’re still a few months away from our official “coming out” party, having the chance to present the DOmedia concept and beta site to the industry’s most influential players was an opportunity too good to pass up. When we arrived in sunny Orlando, Florida on March 4, very few people attending the AAAA 2008 Media Conference and Tradeshow had heard of DOmedia (which has been by design…we wanted to develop the site further before we threw back the curtains). However, following some fast-and-furious development and design efforts, we decided now was as good a time as any to make ourselves known.

And so, through a lot of creative thinking, sweat equity and some amazingly talented Aarrow Ads sign spinners (check out the video we shot), DO was everywhere. In attendees’ hotel rooms on their “DO not disturb” doorhangers and in their special gift packages. On the floor leading from the hotel to the meeting rooms (thank you Street Blimps!). On the free pins we were passing out and on super-special, light-up bouncing balls. After two solid days of DO everywhere, we certainly got people’s attention.

But more importantly, we had a wonderful opportunity to talk to industry professionals from across the country who were equally excited about what DOmedia can do to save time (read: money), encourage creative thinking and serve up new ways to connect with others in the advertising and media biz. We’ll be spending the next few days and weeks reconnecting with everyone we had a chance to meet in Florida and refining our development to reflect the feedback we received at the show. This is when the fun begins!