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How brands are making use of outdoor during the coronavirus pandemic

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Image by Joiarib Morales via Unsplash

Much has already been said about the impact of coronavirus and the true impact on the advertising industry, and on my sector, the out-of-home (OOH) industry. Despite the challenges we are facing, OOH remains in a unique position to make a difference to the communities it is embedded in.

This unique moment in history demands caution from advertisers as we have already seen a backlash against some brands that have tried to capitalize on the situation,such as McDonald’s in Brazil, which separated its golden arches to encourage social distancing. It is essential that brands that ‘play’ in this area need to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

The coronavirus is not an advertising brief, but in the face of adversity we have seen some incredible moves by companies all over the world doing what they can to make a difference: from Brewdog shifting its manufacturing capabilities to produce hand sanitiser to Pret A Manger offering half-price hot drinks to NHS workers.

And while for many brands OOH may not feel like an appropriate medium right now, it does still have a role to play. As an inherent part of our infrastructure and an endless canvas, it is in a unique position to deliver value not just for brands and governments but broader society too. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen impactful OOH campaigns around that world that are falling broadly under the following categories:

A celebration of heroes (particularly in the UK)

We’ve seen the London Eye and other landmarks turning blue as part of the Clap For Our Carers campaign, the Thank You NHS projections on hospitals up and down the country and of course, the OOH industry’s own campaign saluting the NHS and keyworkers on the front line.

Media as a service

From the Government’s simple but effective 'Stay At Home' campaign to the striking #Stayathome illumination on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa skyscraper, we’ve seen every type of OOH activation used to encourage people to stay at home and practice social distancing during the pandemic. And as our physical world shrinks, what is happening locally is becoming increasingly important, with OOH providing a space to communicate community information, advice, and support.

Campaigning

A number of brands have taken to OOH to highlight initiatives they may be backing, such as Just Park’s 'Park Free' initiative for NHS workers, or the Flower Council of Holland’s 'Let Hope Bloom' floral sculpture special build to support the floriculture industry and send a message of hope, love, gratitude, and support.

OOH has always been more than an advertising medium and these campaigns, and the many more we see emerging every week, have demonstrated how powerful OOH can be. With the advent of social media, its also not always essential for people to be at street level to see, experience and share these campaigns either, as we’ve seen with images of the amazing blue landmarks for the Clap for our Carers campaign filling our feeds.

While it is not yet clear when the public will be back on the streets and how their behaviors may have changed, what is clear is that OOH is ready and able to quickly respond.

Paulo Farias, client strategy director, Posterscope

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