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Introducing Advertising’s Next Hot Creative Frontier…Outdoors!
By: Mike Zuckerman
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Yeah, yeah, Socialmedia-ites. We know. Social media marketing will revolutionize the way we blah, blah, and blah! Its advent signifies a new dawn of something-or-other! You don’t want to be left behind, so board the proverbial social media train now as it is leaving the proverbial social media station! Look, all light ribbing aside, social media marketing (on outlets like Twitter and Facebook) is obviously here to stay (well, at least until something better comes along). Strategy-wise, it can be an extremely useful tool in any number of situations (e.g. real-time/immediate brand, product or service information, Friend/Follower-only coupons and promotions, fostering of customer interaction and discussions, etc.), but, from a purely creative perspective, it kinda stinks. And by "kinda," I mean "really."
Much like a 300-square-foot studio apartment, the social media marketing space just feels sort of, well, creatively confining. Constricting. Stifling. Only so much you can do on a Twitter feed or Facebook page, right? The same criticism has been levied against another, albeit much older, media, too: the outdoors. The good old, and much maligned, billboard and bus shelter poster. Current article’s hyperbolic headline aside, outdoor advertising doesn’t have to consist of the seven-to-nine-words-and-easy-to-decipher-imagery you may be used to seeing or working on. It can be way more interesting, and far more creative, than the garden-variety view-obstructing, nature-ruining, recycled print headline-sporting intrusive eyesore some think it is. It can be different. It can be eye-catching. It can be a conversation starter. It can even be tangible. Essentially, outdoor advertising can be fun to work on, and below are four such examples.
Take this one for Southern California’s Mammoth Mountain ski resort. The fine folks at David & Goliath totally broke free, in true snowboarder form, from the supposed hard confines of a medium and did their own thing, space-be-damned. Not that this is the zenith of creativity, design-wise (not sure it was meant to be or even needed to be), but the theme of the billboard truly does perfectly match the ethos of the intended consumer, and there’s certainly something to be said for that.

Who said your billboard even had to be made of whatever billboards are made out of? Take this 15-by-12-foot Virgin Media billboard in London made entirely of cheese. Speedy Gonzales (star of said billboard) is fast, like Virgin Media’s broadband service, and he’s a mouse, and mice like cheese, so there you go.  This masterpiece took 14 folks eight days to build, and is made of 10 kinds of cheese.

How about this one, for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”? While looking pretty much like the campaign’s print ads and TV spot title cards, this bus shelter piece (and many others in Wieden + Kennedy’s “M.N.F.” campaign) was made of actual AstroTurf that passersby can touch, getting them as close to the on-field action as their doughy and uncoordinated selves could possibly permit. And it thusly ran very successfully. So successfully, in fact, that a vast number of them were stolen and ostensibly added to in-home collections. So, dear creative, not only could you have created a rather cool and visceral billboard, but, simultaneously, a lusted-after piece of street art.

Or, lastly, this one, in support of Frankfurt, Germany’s Fisch Franke seafood restaurant? It’s neither boring nor lame, outdoor ad detractors! It’s an aquarium with live trout swimming around inside!

Bottom line here is while outdoor advertising isn’t the next hot advertising commodity, it doesn’t have to be recycled and boring, either. It can be fun, and a superb creative outlet. So the next time you, in a most whiny manner, shriek “Waaaahh! I don’t wanna work on that stupid billboard project!” after your Creative Director sheepishly assigns it, please think of cheese, snowboarding, AstroTurf, and trout. It'll all start to feel much better, almost immediately. Better than being charged with the task of monotonously updating Twitter feeds or Facebook pages, right? (Virtual high-five!),

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About the Author
Mike Zuckerman is a copywriter who enjoys quiet, clean, country living in the heart of Los Angeles. Email him here.
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