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Suns out, ads out - why OOH is blazing a trail this summer

By Mike Smith, CEO, Open Media

Open Media


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June 17, 2024 | 6 min read

With the arrival of summer, the world becomes a stage for thrilling sports spectacles - the Euros, the Olympics, Wimbledon and more. Increased outdoor activity, extended daylight hours, and the heightened emotional engagement of summer events make it a prime time for brands to connect with audiences in meaningful ways. What better time to use OOH to capitalize on brand visibility and advocacy?

There’s an undeniable energy in the air this summer as sports and festival fever sweeps the globe. The feel good factor is around in droves. Stadiums roar with excitement, screens light up with athletic prowess and communities unite over love for the game, music and the holidays.

Win big with summer sports

Sport in particular evokes emotions like passion, unity and triumph. With all the cheers and camaraderie, there lies an unmissable opportunity for brands to score big in the world of out of home (OOH) advertising - a chance to stand out in high-traffic areas, capturing the attention of both locals and tourists immersed in the buzz of the season.

What this inevitably means is that we get to enjoy some quality campaigns and adverts. Brands have been planning for months aiming for the perfect time for billboards to attract the attention to the hoards of sporting fans out and about catching all the action.

Sky Sports: 'The Greatest Show on Earth' campaign

The timing of Sky Sports' ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ campaign featuring Ella Toone from Manchester United WFC on Hotel Football's banner is a great example of the perfect summer campaign. With football fever high during this season, the visually impactful banner, placed where fans enter the stadium, grabbed attention.

People approach a stadium with a sky sports out of home (OOH) advert on display
Manchester United WFC's Ella Toone appears on a Sky Sports OOH ad outside Hotel Football

Ella Toone's celebrity status added credibility and emotional appeal to the campaign, making it a memorable part of the summer football experience.

Venus and Sure: capitalizing on Women's Euro fever

Meanwhile, other brands were also jumping on OOH success. Venus and Sure both capitalized on the wave of excitement generated around the Women’s Euros with simple, effective timing and placement. 

Venus’s 'MoveYourSkin' campaign featured several iconic images with minimal copy aiming to inspire women to get moving with sports. 

Similarly, Sure displayed images of the team with their famous strap line and logo.

The Lionesses' Lauren James appears on an OOH ad by Sure at London's Boxpark
The Lionesses' Lauren James appears on an OOH ad by Sure at London's Boxpark

It makes total sense, of course. Why wouldn’t you align your brand with the spirit of sportsmanship when the city is bustling with people? Featuring your brand alongside the excitement of a major sporting event is a perfect opportunity to tap into the collective euphoria of summer and forge deeper connections with your audience.

Shine bright with a sunshine boost

It’s not just the events that increase the volume of OOH audiences. It’s that warm weather and that holiday vibe.

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology reveals that warm temperatures increase the resilience on social proof. As temperatures rise, so does the tendency for consumers to follow popular trends.

The warmer weather encourages more spontaneous outings and increased foot traffic in urban areas. This surge in activity is a goldmine for advertisers. 

For instance, last summer, Starbucks seized on this perfectly, seen below targeting roadside commuter audiences, with enticing images of their products alongside summer-themed copy such as ‘Who’s in summer mode?’. The result was a noticeable uptick in foot traffic to their stores, driven by the timely and visually appealing campaign.

A Starbucks's summer OOH advert on a roadside - The ad reads ‘Who’s in summer mode?'
Starbucks's summer OOH campaign - ‘Who’s in summer mode?'

Ads that scream ‘summer’

Whether promoting beer, stylish apparel, or travel destinations, OOH advertising during the summer of sport offers a prime opportunity to tap into seasonal trends and consumer preferences.

San Miguel utilized our Wembley Boxpark site to promote their new product last summer (see header image). A stand-out image of an ice-cold beer with a summer back drop screamed ‘summer’ to a really targeted audience passing by.

Summer is the ideal moment to introduce new products to receptive consumers for many reasons it seems.

Last year over the school summer holidays, data from MRI Springboard saw a surge of +4.8%, driven by high streets showing they are a prime position to display an ad campaign using OOH.

Not only do school holidays promote a rise in footfall, but other events such as summer bank holidays encourage a rise in people getting out and about, with last years summer bank holiday in May showing an increase in footfall around shopping areas by 5.4%.

And according to Barclays there was a huge surge in summer spending on non-essential items last June - by 5.7% – more than in May (3%) – all because the sunshine makes people want to socialize with friends and family while inspiring shoppers to renew their summer wardrobes.

Sizzle and shine - make the most of OOH

Summertime is literally sizzling with opportunities for OOH. The sun is shining (well sometimes), which puts everyone is in a good mood, and that makes  it the perfect time for brands to connect with audiences. Whether it's the thrill of the Euros, the adrenaline rush of the Olympics, or the timeless tradition of Wimbledon, there's a host of sporting events just waiting to captivate audiences worldwide.  

So, gear up for next year: get creative, and let next summer be your winning season in the world of OOH advertising. Pencil in the championships, the games, the festivals, the tours and more.

Think about how you tap in to the summer hype, be visible, be emotional and be memorable. 

If your brand is able catch the wave of summer appeal your audiences will remember long after the sun has set on summertime.


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