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Open canvas: thinking outside the home (March 2018)

Two experts pick their favourite out of home campaigns and explain why their chosen work makes the most of the medium

Neil Dawson, interim European executive creative director, Innocean Worldwide Europe


I worked in South Africa in 1994, the year Nelson Mandela came to power. Under the new constitution there were 13 official languages. As creatives, clever use of language was not going to cut it – we had to think visually. This has served me well over the years, particularly in OOH work.I love great OOH – its scale, the fact that it’s an idea’s sternest test. It’s a great way to sense-check an idea – how would it work in OOH? It’s the idea in its simplest, purest form. It’s not easy. Michelin’s “Hands” is a great example. Its bold simplicity is striking. No words, not even a logo.
A great test of any ad, especially OOH, is to keep removing elements and ask: “Does it still make sense?” If it does, that element is probably redundant. Simplicity gives you impact.
If you’re very lucky you can get down to two elements – image or headline and logo. Here they’ve managed a single image. “Hands” says so much about Michelin in one image. It had a big head start – a world-famous brand icon. But that could have been a curse. It would have been so easy for the client to insist on seeing Bibendum’s smiling face, or impose rules for using the character; the art direction and storytelling would have been at odds. Bravo Michelin for seeing the idea for what it is.
The use of Bibendum is sublime. He’s reduced to just what is needed – his hands. This gets the viewer involved, leaving it to them to complete the circle. This campaign works so well for many reasons, not least its scale. The hands are large within the executions and huge when up on the roadside. That sense of a big brand with a long history of keeping you safe is told deftly in each scenario.
So much OOH is reformatted press executions. How refreshing to see an outdoor campaign in its purest form. How refreshing, too, to see a campaign that looks unlike conventional advertising. Just one image that says everything necessary.

Vicki Maguire, joint chief creative officer, Grey London

Anyone who saw David Attenborough’s epic Blue Planet II at the end of last year would have been shocked by the volume of non-biodegradable waste that ends up in the oceans. Add to this the amount that is poisoning the planet in landfill sites, and it’s enough to make us stop and question mass consumerism.Every day, seemingly mundane items such as coffee pods contribute to this waste, with 13,500 hitting the landfills every minute. I, for one, don’t want to add to this waste if I can help it – or see my coffee pod on the screen, floating for eternity among the coral and turtles of the South Sea.
This ad for Halo, an ethical coffee-pod brand, stopped me in my tracks with its graphic and shocking illustration of how much waste the otherwise everyday and prosaic coffee pods produce – and the damage it causes.
In a classic case of David taking on Goliath, the provocative and illustrative approach of this campaign minnow battling the complacency of the coffee giants, combined with the choice of medium and location – how many branded non-biodegradable coffees are served every day at stations? – gave it a swagger and shock factor that would have otherwise eluded it. It revealed that there is a better way.
And with a budget that’s tiny when compared to the amounts typically spent by those multi­nationals that seem to be ignoring the problem to which they are contributing, Halo showed how, by playing smart with timing and spend, outdoor advertising can provide a scale and stand out to effect behavioural change that other, more passive, media cannot.
While I’ve changed my coffee habits as a result and can sleep at night knowing that I’ve cut my contribution to the monstrous volumes of waste poisoning the planet, the wider lesson for brands from Halo – if such a lesson is needed – is that, as an ideal medium for creating a cultural impact, OOH is ignored at their peril.

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Open canvas: best out of home (February 2018)

Two experts pick their favourite out of home campaigns and explain why their chosen work makes the most of the medium

Nicolas Roope, executive creative director, Poke London

When you put art in a gallery you kind of kill it. We have to create these white boxes so art’s many subversions don’t spill out onto the streets, undermining normality and society.
The frame around a poster can be seen to do much the same thing, demarcating the message from the legitimate architecture of the humdrum around it. A safe window.
It also frames a legacy, some bad old habits that no longer fit the connected world. A shame, because printed OOH ads make a disproportion­ately strong impression on millennials – surprised, I suppose, by how an image can just sit there, not swiping, refreshing or animating.
We often hear that we should “think outside the box” but, more often than not, thinking within its constraints is no less creative or fruitful. In fact, that poster frame is arguably the world’s most prolific of all creative canvases.
Tourism Ireland’s 2016 “Doors of Thrones” campaign by Publicis London really impressed me. What so easily could have been a lame print ad engrained itself in Northern Ireland’s story, driving tourism around the region. It was a lesson in how a physical object can be responsive and alive, and how a campaign can be more than just the conveyance of information and emotion.
Using similar logic, in 2017 the team created a 77m-long tapestry, again exquisite in craft and detail. In many aspects this is like a poster; flat, with pictures and stories across its canvas. But the tapestry is conscious of its historical references and significance.
Connectedness is not exclusive to cyberspace. Its tentacles reach into everything. So when conceiving an idea that engages and connects, it’s critical to get out of the frame, conceptually. We use so many resources and spend so much on ads, why wouldn’t we try to lay down those vital cultural connections if we could? And why do we have to stray from traditional formats to do this?

Caitlin Evans, senior account planner, MBA

Dear “OK Cupid DTF”,I love you. I loved you when I first saw you and I keep on falling deeper.
It might seem strange that I’m writing a love letter given you are an outdoor ad for a dating website, but you’ve caused something strange to come over me and I’m feeling all old-fashioned.
Your “Dating deserves better” campaign that aims to redefine the acronym DTF, which is currently used in dating profiles to mean “Down To Fuck”, has got me. You’re showing how people can redefine it as sweeter somethings like “Down To Farmers market”, “Down To Fall head over heels” and “Down To Feel out the dancefloor”.
While other dating platforms are likely to ask if I’m DTF in an exhausting frenzy of rapid photo evaluation and sex-crazed screen-swiping, you’re asking me if I’m “Down To Floss”.
And you know what? I am. At last, a dating platform that knows what I need. There’s something about standing next to the one you love at the end of the day with toothbrushes in your mouths, staring silently into each other’s eyes through the bathroom mirror. I like that you’ve made the small things sexy. I think we
get each other. I think we can get along.
You make the world (of dating) fresh, and I hope others see it too. I hope you change expectations and behaviours toward non-gyrating, more peaceful gratification.
Your aesthetic makes my eyes sing – you’re an art gallery, an outdoor Tumblr blog, a 10-foot monument to proper love. You’ve used serious à la mode artists from Toiletpaper magazine and you look amazing, but they don’t overshadow your story. You wear the haute couture, it doesn’t wear you. You’re new and surprising.
Outdoor is perfect for you. Like a good date you’ve been thoughtfully crafted, your grandness makes my heart beat and I can’t swipe you away (not that I’d ever want to).
OK Cupid, your arrow has stuck.

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Via: Campaign

Open canvas: creative you just can't ignore (December 2017)

Two experts pick their favourite out of home campaigns and explain why their chosen work makes the most of the medium

Paul Jordan, co-executive creative director, Mcgarrybowen


Sometimes we just need to recognise the power of the product and the platform, then get the hell out of the way.I love love love the Coca-Cola screens illuminating Piccadilly Circus right now.
I won’t call them ads, because they’re not. Not really. Not ads in the way we think of them – jaw-dropping headlines and traffic-jamming visuals.
No, these screens do something much simpler. Much more effective. They instantly make me want to buy a Coke. And I’m a cynical old adman who doesn’t particularly like Coke.
Picture it. A chilly Wednesday night. Stepping out of a restaurant at the bottom of Regent Street. Hugging a friend goodbye and BLAM! There it was, over his shoulder. A gigantic, slow-motion Coke cap flying off a bottle; that brown fizzy stuff gloriously cascading into a glass. I couldn’t work it out. Full up on London’s finest dining and now all I could think was “I want a Coke.”
Was it nostalgia for the red and white of the world’s most iconic brand? The warm glow lighting up a cold night? All I know is that, some-how, this combination of logos and pack shots worked its magic on me and raced straight to my amygdala as if I’d just necked a can of the stuff.
There was no smart wordplay or visual trickery and that was its strength. When we write ads for OOH we have this rule; nine words or less for a headline. But I don’t think these Coke ads even have words. They’re that simple; that impactful.
And that’s the point. A 4K screen the size of a tennis court gives you impact. Lighting up Piccadilly Circus gives you impact. The red and white of the world’s most famous brand has impact.
Sometimes we just need to recognise the power of the product and the platform, then get the hell out of the way.
Apple gets this. Those posters wrapping whole office buildings with the latest iPhone on them aren’t really ads either, but they work in the same way. I want what they’re selling. But you can only get away with this in large-format OOH – anywhere else, any smaller, and it’s just a bit boring.

Sarah Hardcastle, creative, Mr President


In the age of the smartphone it’s easy to only see the things we want to see. From newsfeeds that show us only the stuff we like to clicking ‘skip’ on YouTube, consumers have never had more control over messages that are shared with them.But what about the messages nobody wants to see – or, worse, can’t see at all?
In Finland, 25,000 cases of domestic violence are reported to the police every year. That’s 70 acts of violence a day, with 88% taking place after dark, out of sight, unnoticed.
It’s this alarming statistic that sits behind the thinking of this reactive campaign for the Helsinki Police department, a partnership between JCDecaux and TBWA.
Using location data collected when a report is made, they were able to target the 15 closest OOH units to the crime with a powerful poster campaign the very next day. The posters at first appear to be straightforward ads for a kitchen or beauty brand but, once night falls, a black-light transforms the image to reveal the disturbing truth taking place behind closed doors.
This hyper-local approach meant that the neighbours of victims would be faced with the stark reality of the problem on their own street, making the messaging “You can’t hide the signs of violence” all the more poignant by placing it in spots that are hard to ignore.
The beauty and impact of this idea is in using targeted OOH, as by its very nature it can’t be skipped, scrolled past or blocked. It’s a smart strategy that plays on the medium’s strengths in a bold, reactive way, made all the more effective when combined with the eye-catching creative.
At Mr President, we’re firm believers in bring-ing media and creative together like this, and I can imagine how implementing the idea into digital OOH could make it even more powerful, (for example) by incorporating street names or even the number of calls made in that location.
Many brands are using the technology in this way already – British Airways with its “#lookup” activity, for one. But however it evolves, I hope this campaign continues to become more and more impactful – until it won’t be needed at all.
Open Canvas V5

Via: Campaign 

Open Canvas: the best in outdoor (November 2017)

Two experts pick their favourite out of home campaigns and explain why their chosen work makes the most of the medium

Will Sharples, strategist, WCRS


Britain certainly isn’t the most welcoming place right now. A recent Ipsos MORI study reveals anti-immigration feeling as the main cause of the Brexit outcome. But it’s also a time when many people are looking for leadership to champion a more positive, progressive set of values. In a void of such leadership, brands have an opportunity to step up.
Making a political statement with clarity and authenticity is no easy task. That is why Jigsaw’s recent OOH takeover of Oxford Circus Tube station stands out. It’s immediate, relevant and left me a little happier about the world.
The posters are refreshingly direct. “♥ Immigration” is plastered in front of ethnically diverse models against quintessentially British rolling hills and heritage homes. The message is clear: immigration doesn’t threaten “British values’’. Then there’s its manifesto poster, which reads: “There’s no such thing as 100% British.”
Few media buys can give the impact an OOH takeover has at Oxford Circus Tube. The work covers the walls, surrounding you with Jigsaw’s bold statement. The location itself feels pertinent; it’s the epicentre of fast fashion, where many cookie-cutter retailers wouldn’t touch such an emotive subject with a bargepole.
Jigsaw had a modest budget; it needed to create a campaign that prompted a wider discussion. So it used OOH for what it’s best at – creating bold work that can stir a reaction among a small audience who want to share it. By presenting such an unequivocal message, so attuned to the current political conversation, the campaign did just that. “♥ Immigration” was picked up by loads of publications, podcasts and news outlets, and social media was buzzing with people’s responses to the campaign.
Jigsaw could have done some print ads featuring beautiful people in beautiful clothes. They would have looked nice and some people would have glanced at them. But instead, it has used what’s best about OOH: a chance to create something worth talking about, triggering a bigger conversation. A conversation that needs to happen.

Nina Taylor, creative director, OgilvyOne Worldwide

The truth is, I haven’t been to the toilet on my own for three years now. Not once.
He’s always there, watching me wee like a perverted furry voyeur. Sometimes he’ll even lick his crown jewels at the same time. He’s my feline shadow, and his name is Robin. I’ve always wondered: “Is this normal? Am I normal?”
The answer came to me this week in the shape of an 18ft tall ad of a woman sitting on the loo, as her cat stares up at her. And it declares confidently that I’m not mad. Because, apparently, “It’s not loopy, it’s love.”
This campaign for Lily’s Kitchen uses outdoor in the only way it should; by being super-bold, engaging and downright unmissable. Putting a picture of a woman on the loo is a brave move to sell cat food. Putting her 18ft tall is even braver. But empathy is where the genius lies in this campaign, and that’s what makes it work so well for outdoor. Any cat obsessive has been on this toilet.
The art direction is classic, while the photographic point of view is fresh and plays perfectly with the first-person copy perspective. This campaign knows that there are cat owners out there who will dish out more dough on cat food in a month than they will on new clothes. And one of those people is me. Do I get my cat to “talk” on the phone? Tick. Does my cat wake me at 4am to play? Tick. Do I never go to the loo on my own? Tick. Will I buy Lily’s Kitchen? Tick. Tick. Tick.
Simple and bold, this campaign succeeds where lots of others fail, because it knows who it’s talking to, makes them notice, hooks them in, and makes them smile. It’s a rare thing these days, but one that I’m sure eight out of 10 of us would agree makes the ad world a better place.

Open canvas russell insight

Via: CampaignLive

Open Canvas: the best in outdoor (October 2017)

Two experts pick their favourite out of home campaigns and explain why their chosen work makes the most of the medium

Nicky Bullard, chairwoman and chief creative officer, MRM Meteorite

The sound of a smartphone hitting the ground screen-side down is a shattering experience. That’s why O2’s latest “Oops” out of home campaign is literally a cracking use of the medium. Not only is it simple, it made me laugh out loud, which a poster hasn’t done for a very long time. It’s also unexpected: focusing on the “Oops” moment by using apparently broken, cracked-looking billboards makes people do a double take. Posters normally stand neatly on their sites. Yes, we sometimes see the paper peeling off but we rarely see a wonky one.
The idea works well for OOH because of the scale: a poster is an “instant” medium, and this example is pretty darn instant (and huge). I’ve seen other elements of the campaign (eg TV spots, Instagram stories, Snapchat lenses) and none has the impact of OOH. It has achieved in three seconds what the TV ad (for the same message) tried to do in 30. It’s just a shame there weren’t more sites used. I love that lots of people didn’t realise these broken billboards were deliberate, despite the copy explaining it was for O2’s new screen-replacement offer.
One Twitter user tweeted: “It definitely isn’t [deliberate]. You’d never get it past health and safety…” That’s the best response any OOH campaign can have, showing how OOH can bring a creative idea and the brand behind it into my everyday world. I can walk past it. Look up. Take a picture. Tweet it. See it in my routine every day for as long as the campaign runs. I want to see more ads like this, that truly interact with the observer in a clever, humorous and ambitious way. Why not? Creatives love a poster – there shouldn’t be a block.
Sometimes maybe the media is chosen before the idea has come to light. Writing for a poster is a wonderful challenge. Ideally, you have to distil your thinking into three words or fewer and create something that stops people in their tracks. It’s hugely exciting.

Matt Davis, executive creative director, Red Brick Road

Such is the nation’s insatiable appetite for Premier League football that the TV audience is surely low-hanging fruit for the two main players, Sky and BT Sport.
Armchair football fans can’t get enough of the unscripted drama – frenetic, competitive, partisan and fame-filled catnip. But now, entering its third year as the sole other broadcaster, the challenges for BT Sport have, it appears, shifted. It now needs to be synonymous with sport, which means being a stand-alone broadcaster, not just a football-content-providing arm of a telecoms behemoth – because its sports portfolio has been substantially enriched.
BT Sport’s own narrative for the football soap opera clearly needed to be a more nuanced, meaty affair. But in addition to the Premier League, it now broadcasts UEFA Champions League, The Ashes, Aviva Premiership Rugby and UFC. That’s quite a roster, and it has lined up stars from each discipline to front its campaign.
So has it risen to the challenge? Very much so. The successful but blunt messaging and arresting football-focused imagery of the past two years has moved up a gear. Numerous OOH executions all appear under the weighty and memorable, “Where the best go head to head”. Nice bit of metre, nod to the vernacular, and seven words. A solid, idea-infused line.
But the OOH really comes to life with the photography. It’s a simple, almost old-fashioned idea really: two stars from different sports, colliding on a pitch, a merging of their talents. Slick post-production means the eye sees the action take place seamlessly and naturally in one location. My favourite is Saracens lock Maro Itoje attempting a textbook tackle on the twinkle-toed footballer Eden Hazard. Who’ll succumb? Who knows?
That’s the most pulsating of the executions: BT Sport is where the best go head to head, and that’s all we need to know. Two other memorable executions feature Joe Root on the cricket pitch high-fiving Luis Suarez, and Wayne Rooney having been beaten at boxing by Nicola Adams – the ref is about to raise her arm and Wayne’s distraught.
What I really like is the split-second it takes to recognise people, meld the contrasting parts in your mind and create the image. This increases dwell time by a beat, making the OOH campaign cut through, big time.
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Via: Campaign Live

Open canvas: the best in outdoor

Two experts pick their favourite out of home campaigns and explain why their chosen work makes the most of the medium

Anna Carpen, executive creative director, 18 Feet & Rising


Dear 3,749 people who streamed It’s the End of the World As We Know It the day of the Brexit vote, Hang in there.” This is one of my favourite headlines from Spotify’s OOH campaign “Thanks 2016, it’s been weird”.
It was a year that ran away with itself. There was nothing we could do to tame it. All we could do was wallow in the music. Spotify cleverly used streaming data to bring to life some insights into our music listening habits. It picked up on the truth that not only is music a reflection of life, but so are the songs we listen to and the names we give our playlists – a good gauge of public mood. Localise this data and you’re onto a winner.
Yes – data can be boring. It lumps people into categories they don’t belong in; its sweeping generalisations are infuriating. But the way the data is used for this campaign is different. This is all about pulling out our human quirks – talking about things that are relatable, rather than stereotypical. The more insights creatives have, the more witty, entertaining and effective their OOH work can be.
That’s the wonderful thing about this campaign: the freshness of the insights, and the fact that it landed slap-bang in the middle of whatever we were all going through at the time.
It would be really interesting to be even more reactive with this campaign in digital spaces.
In 2016 we bade farewell to so many musical talents – and within minutes of the news of their death breaking, those beloved stars were propelled to the top of the streaming charts. Imagine if Spotify created these funny, relatable headlines based on that day’s news? Or if you could know how many people in your town were listening to DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s Summertime on a blazing hot day?
The art direction is bright, vibrant and true to Spotify’s Swedish heritage. Clean and bold, with no need for hashtags, social media icons or calls to action, it’s OOH creativity at its best.

Chaka Sobhani, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett

Politics can be a dry old world  –  that is, until election time, when the circus well and truly comes to town. Trump and Hillary squared up and we, the world, watched as the mad reality show of the US presidential election played out in front of our eyes. It was beyond a feast for the media as it was handed characters (or caricatures) like politics had never seen before.
Many brands jumped on the political bandwagon – how could they not? – when standing for something felt even more important somehow. Diesel delivered the beautiful and punchy “Make love not walls”, and I absolutely loved the elegance and power of AeroMexico’s’ “Borders” campaign. Pure class.
But the one that really stood out for me came from Der Tagesspiegel, a German daily paper. It’s not a regular publication for me, but it captured what I love so much about the powerful iconography that can be created in politically charged times when, in among the flurry of commentary and conversation, big, bold images can stand out above all the noise and come to define a moment in history.
In case you haven’t seen it, it’s OOH at its best – simple, bold and has a major impact.
The image of Trump on the front page, his mouth manipulated into a raging scream by shooting the pile of newspapers from above, is just bloody clever. No tricks or gimmicks in post-production needed – just
a smart idea, shot well, in-camera. It creates something original by taking the familiar and twisting it, and is made for the scale, impact and immediacy of OOH, where one powerful image can tell a story better than 1,000 words ever can.
We all remember Blair’s “Demon eyes” from the Conservatives’ “New Labour, new danger” campaign, and Obama’s “Hope”. They’re brilliant, but I love that this comes from a daily newspaper in Berlin. No fuss, no big budgets, just a great idea, simply executed and on a fast turnaround. Had it been the New York Times, I’m sure it would be more widely famous, and part of the visual lexicon of this now infamous moment in history. It deserves to be.
Ich liebe es.

Open Canvas
Via: Campaign Live

Absolut transforms the streets into an interactive exhibition

ABSOLUT wanted to establish its new ethos with the statement, ‘THE FUTURE IS YOURS TO CREATE’ in association with the launch of their unique tagline, ‘TRANSFORM TODAY’.
Posterscope USA worked with ABSOLUTE on a tease and reveal campaign to turn  a neighborhood’s everyday surroundings into an ‘Open Canvas’ where the creative community was able to convey the transformative power of art. More than twenty celebrated emerging contemporary artists transformed ordinary features of North 6th street in Brooklyn (Williamsburg), New York, into an extraordinary immersive and participative experience as part of ABSOLUT’s Open Canvas initiative. From wind art to crocheted fence tapestries and digital projections, the co-created interactive art exhibition celebrates the first iteration of ABSOLUT’s TRANSFORM TODAY™ global campaign, a movement inspiring creative risk-taking amongst today’s creative class.