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Marketing Brand Strategy The Drum Awards

Behind the winning OOH strategies from British Airways, EE & Ikea

By Ian Darby | journalist

February 8, 2024 | 8 min read

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Three big brand winners at The Drum Awards for OOH highlight key trends for advertisers to learn from – read on for the award winners’ guide to OOH success.

The Drum OOH Awards

Winners at The Drum's award festival embodied the strengths and forward-looking nature of the out-of-home OOH medium

Impact, creativity and bold approaches – if we were to sum up the recent winners of The Drum Awards for Out-of-Home in just three (well, four) words, this would be it.

It was also apparent that the winning entries at the awards, in association with Alight Media, across varied product and service categories, each embodied the strengths and forward-looking nature of the out-of-home (OOH) medium.

When viewed together, the campaigns provide a compelling showcase for the latest trends in OOH and clear routes for brands looking to tap into the growing potential of the channel in 2024 and beyond.

The OOH sector is clearly in good shape. UK trade body Outsmart reported recently that OOH revenue rose by 13% during the third quarter of 2023. This was reflected in full-year growth of 8.7% in 2023, with a forecast of a further 7.3% OOH spend increase in 2024, according to the Advertising Association/Warc.

Reflecting on this, Dan Durling, managing director of Alight Media and a judge and presenter of The Drum Awards, emphasized advertiser demand “for the creativity and effectiveness” embodied in the winners. The following five trends bring this thought to life:

Flexible and dynamic creative

At its heart, OOH is an extremely creative medium, and The Drum Awards for OOH winners exemplify this.

British Airways’ ‘A British Original’ campaign, which won in the Digital category, expressed the idea that there are more than 500 different ways to travel.

BA achieved this by deploying the flexibility and immediacy of dynamic digital out-of-home (DOOH). These attributes allowed creative agency Uncommon the freedom to invent as many unique copylines as it could (more than 500) without the logistical limitations of having to produce every single execution.

Meanwhile, Grand Prix winner Ikea Canada worked with creative agency Rethink to create the ‘Window Shopping’ OOH campaign in Toronto to launch a new store. The idea involved the creation of living ads within the city itself by using real homes (with real people) and turning them into instantly recognizable Ikea “billboards” that felt reminiscent of in-store showrooms.

High levels of innovation

OOH is building a strong reputation for its ability to harness new thinking and ideas. For instance, EE’s ‘Stay Connected at Night’ campaign included facial recognition software, augmented reality (AR), and live transport data to guide people home safely as they moved around cities at night.

The AR worked through a live camera feed that enabled OOH screens to detect approaching pedestrians and respond accordingly, sharing location-specific travel options.

In addition, facial recognition software detected when a single person approached and made screens brighter, illuminating a darkened walk home. And then real-time transport data to help people get home safely.

Vast range of formats and locations

The wealth and breadth of inventory in OOH is expanding at a rapid rate. For example, BA used 14 different DOOH formats in the ‘A British Original’ campaign.

BA selected British icons – such as London buses and Piccadilly Lights – to build a connected brand experience through OOH. It also introduced to the mix premium DOOH across London including Wandsworth Bridge and the M4 Tower to drive standout in areas over-indexing for its target audience.

The campaign featured reach-driving roadside formats, alongside premium rail and underground inventory, to ensure broad awareness and to make BA’s message unmissable.

In Canada, Ikea built on its ‘Window Shopping’ creative idea with an OOH campaign that encouraged consumers to visit the new store. Placements were seen on routes of travel, within walking distance of the store, and in spaces people were actively shopping.

Sophisticated contextual targeting solutions

A great strength of DOOH lies in the ability to adapt creative to target audiences based on shifting contexts. EE’s campaign offered a creative twist on time-based targeting. Instead of being focused on daylight hours, screens were live from 8pm to 3am, covering all parts of people’s night out and those on the night shift. Fewer people saw the EE branding, but the media impact was of far greater value to those who did.

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BA ensured contextual relevance by incorporating dynamic triggers to ensure that time, weather and location influenced the copy being shown. And Ikea was able to target OOH to specific neighborhoods around the city based on various demographics and all within a predetermined radius of the new store location.

Seamless omnichannel integration

The ability for brands to include OOH in broader integrated campaigns is becoming much more frictionless. Thanks to the growth in programmatic DOOH, advertisers are able to buy inventory through the same demand side platforms (DSPs) as other digital media, and to introduce consistent measurement standards – for example, where digital screens are used to encourage audiences to interact with brands through their mobile devices.

In terms of OOH’s role in the multichannel mix, BA amplified this by introducing social and digital formats, TV, cinema, print and radio advertising and EE supported its OOH campaign with social media posts on Instagram and TikTok, posts from influencers and digital audio.

Each of the winning campaigns showcased the power and potential of the OOH medium by demonstrating success for brands across a range of metrics. BA achieved an increase in website traffic and revenues of 50%, EE’s brand consideration among its target audience was 74%, and Ikea’s new downtown store contributed to foot traffic 41% higher than the baseline identified ahead of the campaign.

Alight Media’s Dan Durling concludes: “It's clear from these three winning campaigns that OOH is playing a transformative role for brands that invest and its role in the media mix will only become more prominent as innovation and technology open up new possibilities.”

Marketing Brand Strategy The Drum Awards

Content created with:

Alight Media

Alight Media is on a mission to build positive connections with communities out-of-home. We offer advertisers opportunities to engage audiences in every region, through our national portfolio of digital billboards, digital and classic 6 sheet posters and the MiXR digital retail media network. Alight is also the top media owner listed in Campaign’s top 100 Best Places to work, and was recognised by the Best Companies scheme in 2023 as a Best Mid-sized company to work for in the UK, a Top 30 Best Mid-sized Company to work for in London and a Top 30 Media and marketing business.

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