The mantra of our industry is the fact that the media environment has become extremely cluttered and that brands are required to rise above this if they wish to be recognised. Continuously, this is the Achilles heel of many brands. While they recognise the need to rise above the heaving mass of marketing campaigns, more often than not, when it comes to out of home (OOH) media there is a tendency towards ‘spray and pray’. Referring to OOH as the ‘poor cousin of the TV commercial is being kind’. And this needs to change.
In terms of OOH, billboards are one the most popular mediums, but also one of the most misunderstood. Marketers are often led to believe that billboards are the most cost effective option compared to other media since ‘thousands see it every day’. This statement has its merits, however it only holds true if the billboard is actually seen and results in recall by those who see it. And if the recall is not from the targeted consumer, then the campaign has effectively failed. Innovative and great creative are no longer sufficient to drive a result. To rise above the rest, what is required is innovative and creative use of media platforms coupled with creative that works with that medium.
In many instances, billboard creative is based on the general campaign creative, or television campaigns that brands execute. The copy and paste attitude is seen as cost effective, but ultimately it may prove to be a costly mistake when the existing artwork is simply adjusted slightly to suit the size of the billboard. Carrying the same message and creative of a TVC, for example, is not necessarily ideal for a billboard campaign.
A static medium such as a billboard cannot convey the entire message of a TVC or print ad in the space of a few seconds. It is important for recall that the billboard communication is not only highly visible and visual, but also highly effective. The effective visual element is critical in the attempt to get the message across when a possible consumer is whizzing by at 120km/h, while concentrating on a number of other issues at the same time, including where they are going.
Why is it that often the messaging on a billboard, or other OOH elements, is lost to the consumers because of poor creative and production? For the bulk of brands, a disproportionate amount, sometimes up to 95% of the spend, goes toward the media space rental. Surprisingly little attention is paid to the creative design and print quality. This is where smart brands rise above the clutter and make their voice heard. These brands know that OOH develops brand awareness and they partner with a specialist design and production agency. This results in highly effective and eye catching OOH campaigns. Through this, brands require less media space and are then able to invest the savings into quality production and highly effective creative. It is this investment in partnership with a specialist creative agency that creates a lasting impression on the consumer and results in high recall value.
By apportioning a larger segment of the marketing spend pie on innovative OOH and creative that is relevant to the medium with a focus on what consumers recall rather than simply where and how many times an advertisement is seen, brands will begin to rise above the clutter and see their return on investment maximised. It’s time the South African market sits up and redefines OOH spend and strategy.
Dean Kopelowitz is COO of Encyclomedia. Follow on Twitter @EncycSA