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Creative Creative Works Out-of-home

How brands can use creativity to unlock OOH’s true potential

By Anna Bager, President and Chief Executive Officer

December 12, 2022 | 8 min read

For The Drum’s Out-of-Home Deep Dive, Anna Bager of the OAAA talks us through the creative measures brands can take to unlock the full potential of out-of-home.


Hendrick's sea success with coastal-themed limited-run gin / Tesco

We are at an important juncture in the OOH industry. Consumers are in the driving seat in the shift back to the real world. Digital burnout and online privacy advancements are fueling an accelerated investment in OOH, while social media is serving up organic exposure for OOH campaigns.

As a judge for The Drum Awards for Out-of-Home for the second year in a row, I was once again reminded of the incredible ways our industry is pushing the limits and crafting brilliant communications. Creativity is the key to delivering a successful campaign and is critical to ensuring that the OOH industry can shift into high gear going forward.

There is a science to the art of OOH advertising, but it all starts with embracing a growth mindset, thinking about what’s ahead and solving challenges creatively. Often, it’s the simple pivot that makes all the difference.

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Creating impact and appealing to eyes, minds and hearts

One of the first things that comes to mind in OOH creative is ’impact’. How does it appeal to the consumer’s senses? Did it leave an impression? And was it a bona fide human impression, not just a ’count’ against eyeballs?

Whether projecting creativity on lighthouses, hand painting your message on to empty walls or turning the bottom of a coffee cup into a brand statement, ambient formats provide an opportunity to produce highly effective campaigns.


Campaigns that use special techniques boost purchase consideration by 35%, while two-thirds of consumers find these brands more innovative and exciting according to a Talon study.

At the end of the day, it’s about making an impact. And it’s not always the spectaculars that make a splash, it’s how you use the available space creatively – like the iconic Specsavers campaign that won in the Most Talked About category at The Drum Awards this year and created impact by famously breaking out of the confines of a classic billboard.


Creativity is what captures consumers’ attention and spurs them to stop, snap, scan and share online. 75% of an ad’s effectiveness is determined by its creative and it is an incredible opportunity to create a memorable experience in a sea of sameness. You wouldn’t take a screenshot of a targeted ad on Facebook, but you would share some clever copy or eye-catching creative from a billboard with your online world. And you’re not alone – 82% of younger consumers reshare OOH ads on social media, according to Harris Poll.

Brand Purpose means creating meaningful connections

Another cornerstone in OOH creativity is brand purpose, where the medium is the message both figuratively and literally.

Messages that clearly bring a purpose to celebrating humanity provide affinity. In a Vice study, 82% of respondents stated that the brands they buy stand for a greater mission and purpose.

H&M’s OOH campaign this year, a winner in the Sustainability category, embraced purpose from all angles, highlighting a sustainable collection and then repurposing the vinyl posters into tote bags for the collection once the campaign wrapped.


Purpose can also be amplified by proximity, with buying locally having become more important to consumers throughout the pandemic and 7 in 10 respondents agreeing that it’s important for brands to give back to their local community.

Another winner at this year’s awards, Forever Beta for The Big Issue, used technology to tap into purpose by spotlighting vendors impacted by the pandemic and using beacons to track street vendors’ movements. When vendors were in range, the digital screens were triggered to point passersby in the direction of the vendors.


Messages that measure what matters

As we harness the momentum of media programs that improve our business outcomes, OOH creativity is tightly connected to results. Data, automation, programmatic and digital OOH are all ammunition with which creative messages have become intertwined with measuring results.

Tesco’s ’Together this Ramadan’ campaign is a perfect example of marrying technology and creativity, with measured results. During Ramadan, the campaign used day-and-night digital technology to display a fasting and non-fasting message. As a result, there was a 275% uplift in Tesco and Ramadan mentions on social.


The OOH medium is the perfect platform for rousing creativity that draws attention across our visual senses. We have the power to help build the bridge to a greener, more sustainable advertising future by partnering with brands with a greater mission in mind. But no matter the message, it all needs to be tied to outcomes – OOH is more measurable than ever before!

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At the end of every OOH campaign, there’s always a fresh, new beginning. Embrace it with a growth mindset and don’t be afraid to pivot.

Anna Bager is president and chief executive officer at the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA).

From the wow factor of 3D billboards to ads that grab people at literally the right time and place, innovation in out-of-home is soaring. Find out more in our latest Deep Dive.

Creative Creative Works Out-of-home

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