It just takes one. One billboard, in one city, with a message can travel the globe in an instant. Remember Deadpool‘s Valentine’s Day magic? 20th Century Fox made a single gag billboard positioning the superhero action flick as a romantic love story, and it went around the world as soon as star Ryan Reynolds posted it to Instagram.
Back in April, Spotify turned one New York City subway stop into a worldwide art exhibition when it transformed the Broadway-Lafayette station into a David Bowie tribute, tying into the David Bowie Is exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum. According to Spotify, it reached more 50 million people on social channels–with no paid amplification.
Both are examples of the influence Instagram is having on both the placement and creative strategy of outdoor advertising.
As digital advertising’s path to prominence began a decade ago, more traditional ad forms like TV, radio, print, and outdoor saw their cultural relevance deflate, both in attention and the shift in ad budget allocation. But as they realized that our attention wasn’t stuck to one device or another, but constantly moving between media, brand and ad began to more effectively create work that complements itself across different platforms. With social media’s meteoric rise, the opportunity to use outdoor space to attract not only eyeballs but active engagement–like posting photos of billboards, posters, wall murals, digital installations, and more–became clear.
“For us, [outdoor advertising] has become a social channel, and we trust that if the creative is compelling enough, people will do the work of amplification for us,” says Spotify’s global executive creative director Alex Bodman. “When we do a station takeover like the one we have at Union Square for our annual Wrapped campaign, the measure of success for me is seeing people stopping to take note of the creative, and then taking out their phones to snap a picture. That’s when we know we got it right.”
Spotify’s senior global brand director Alex Tanguay says that as the company has started developing more creative work in support of artists and their record releases, it’s the billboards that generate the most excitement. “For them, these billboards are iconic moment that they celebrated, often with a post on Instagram,” says Tanguay. “In turn, our media investment takes on a life of its own inside the earned-media world of Instagram for artists and their fans.”