Ambient & Outdoor

By The Drum | Administrator

July 3, 2006 | 6 min read

As this journalist is writing, the country is engulfed in World Cup fever. St George’s Cross engulfs the country and every one has gone football crazy. Fingers crossed that by the time this magazine is out the World Cup dream that is currently alive for all England fans is not something of a distant memory. This journalist, Scottish born and bred, is however putting her money on Brazil. Well, they do have the nicest shirts in the competition.

However, with the World Cup comes a raft of advertising from the likes of Nike, Snickers, Budweiser and everything in between. If a link can be made between football and a brand well, by goodness, an advertising campaign has been produced around it. It’s what those clever marketing types like to call ‘synergy’.

But while summer is traditionally a great time for the outdoor advertising community this year things are slightly different, with people heading inside to watch the matches and soak up the power of advertising via television. However, the outdoor community is fighting back.

Rob Atkinson, UK sales director of Clear Channel, comments on the company’s aim of targeting the football fans. He explains: \"Our ad sites target the drinking villages where people congregate during the World Cup, with ads in Connect phone boxes right outside the pubs and Adshel bus shelters and billboards on the roads leading to venues screening the games.\"

Karen Olsen of Mobile Media also agrees that the World Cup means an upturn for outdoor advertising: \"Where outdoor media owners can benefit is the factor that we are able to tap into the vast crowds who gather to watch the games, so positioning near key viewing locations is a must. As well as targeting those who are getting out of the house to avoid the TV ads. Ad avoidance is extremely low with regard to the outdoors, so it’s a great way to target football lovers and haters alike.\"

Traditionally the summer months are a boom time for the outdoor and mobile industry. As Dave McEvoy, marketing director at JC Decaux, comments: \"The summer months bring the biggest audience for outdoor, which I suppose is the opposite for TV. And, with TV being focused around live games, there’s a massive opportunity for normal products to reach the wider population. I guess TV is putting all its eggs in one basket, advertising to football, whereas outdoor’s biggest strength would be that regular brands and products can gain real standout away from the football.\"

Indeed there is life outside of football (some may not realise, but reader, this journalist can assure you there is). Preston and Bournemouth-based Adi Group is capitalising on this through its use of screen advertising. The group has launched The Racing Network, offering advertising opportunities at all major racing events throughout the racing calendar. Oliver Brindley of Adi Group comments: \"There are so many limitations these days with advertising on BBC screens, that in terms of the World Cup we aren’t actually doing anything. However, we are working in the racing arena and have signed up both Betfred and Vodafone for advertising at the races. The system means that we can change our advertising messages down the sides of the screen and banners without interrupting the coverage, and we are getting some great feedback from it.\"

Again, away from the World Cup, the summer months are normally filled with ads for the latest Hollywood Blockbusters. So how much will the film industry contribute to the outdoor industry’s success this year? Atkinson comments: \"Entertainment is one of the biggest categories for outdoor; it’s a natural fit as people who go to the cinema tend to be those who are out and about and have strong views of outdoor. Outdoor drives awareness and hence ticket sales so the blockbusters are strongly represented on all our formats for everything from The Da Vinci Code to Mission Impossible 3.\"

But once the summer (and indeed the mighty World Cup) has ended what will be the trends for the advertising and outdoor industry in the next 12 months? Olsen believes the future looks healthy for the scene. She comments: \"With consolidation of the specialists and big outdoor media owners that has taken place over the last few years, it is likely that the smaller companies are likely to follow suit, given the proliferation of opportunities and companies competing in this arena. I believe more and more of the small ambient companies will join forces to streamline costs and improve standards of delivery.\"

Clear Channel is ensuring that it is putting customers at the forefront of its work as it looks to the future. Atkinson explains: \"Outdoor is moving towards putting consumers at the heart of the propositions, targeting people at the right time and in the right mind set. We are also seeing renewed demand for our billboard format. The constant improvements in illumination and quality have already led to a significant increase in demands. There is a trend for traditional TV advertisers such as Andrex to invest in all formats of outdoor including billboards. As with smaller formats billboards can be used selectively for their local and environmental value as well as for broadcast campaigns.\"

Meanwhile, McEvoy believes that new technology will change the outdoor industry in the forthcoming months. He explains: \"We’re seeing more sites being equipped to feature digital advertising, which I believe will be a trend for the coming months. The ability to change campaigns will allow them to be more topical.\"

He continues: \"Another recent trend has been the increase of interactivity and engagement from outdoor advertising. Outdoor has always been able to deliver one simple message very fast, but this is now being supplemented by interactive and engaging opportunities. There are bus shelters with buttons, voting on six-sheets and Bluetooth technologies that are allowing customers to interact closer with the brands. They’re also very measurable.\"

It seems then that the outlook is good for the outdoor and mobile industry in the future. Let’s hope that the same can be said for the English national squad. Fingers crossed.


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