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No curb on enthusiasm: how London agency Curb is innovating outdoor media

By Gordon Young | Editor

Curb

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article

November 16, 2011 | 4 min read

More than anything else, social media is about giving people something to talk about. Curb, a small London agency that punches well above its weight in terms of profile, has a knack of doing just that. Its founder Anthony Ganjou talks The Drum through some of his social media-friendly ideas.

From the exchange of business cards, this meeting was different. Mine corporate, white. His impregnated with seeds that grew when the card was planted. The legend on it was Anthony Ganjou, founder and CEO of Curb. It is an agency that is small in scale but big in reputation. Describing itself as a ‘natural media company’ it aims to add zest to out-of-home campaigns; activity that takes the form of stunts, giant installations and wacky ideas which get talked about. Said Ganjou: “Most outdoor campaigns use billboards and posters. We use the entire landscape as our canvas.”Recent projects by the firm, which has around six staff and a £500,000 turnover, have seen them make ads out of crop circles, create the world’s largest poster for Michael Jackson in a field outside Heathrow and construct a working bar out of sand as part of the Cannes Festival.
As well as the landscape, the agency has also harnessed nature as a whole, for example they recently completed a project in Canada for Warner Brothers. They impregnated two posters with bacteria, which then grew to reveal the film title.
Ganjou argues that his firm is very much at the heart of social media, as it recognises that people in that space need one thing more than anything else; something to talk about.“Social media is of vital importance,” he said, “and we aim to give people stuff to photograph, video and share. For example, within a few days we had over 400,000 people look at our Contagious poster on YouTube.” The company mainly works with other agencies and media owners, including the likes of Clear Channel and 1,000heads, rather than clients directly.But as well as working with other businesses it is not averse to developing its own products. The business has previously worked in the world of bio-technology. Working with a scientist, it developed bacteria which glows in the dark. Johnson and Johnson saw an application for the product to promote its anti-bacterial hand wash.Visitors to an exhibition were invited to dip a cloth into the bacteria, which came out glowing. They could then add the hand wash and watch the lights go out. Other applications might be using it as a form of street lighting. Through its seeded paper, a product it perfected, Curb has also created what it claims is Europe’s fastest growing stationery company. It sells the paper to the likes of Accenture, who can choose from a wide variety of seeds including wildflowers and strawberries. A firm is even considering incorporating it into their packaging. However, perhaps the company is best known for stunts like producing the world’s largest poster to promote the Michael Jackson album. Located in a field near Heathrow, the work could not only be seen from planes, but from space too.Said Ganjou, “The point was not simply to target air passengers. We wanted something that would be talked about, and promoted through the social media platforms.”Normally these giant posters would be committed to landfill. But even though this was made from biodegradable PVC, it is to be spared that fate.“Instead it is to be made into lap top covers and other products for Michael Jackson fans,” said Ganjou. Meanwhile, the agency is engaged in a variety of other social media-friendly stunts, including a project to persuade a cosmetics company to run perfumed billboards.

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