John Shannon: Say it loud and keep it simple

So many ads, so little time: the way to reach overwhelmed consumers these days is not subtle messages but plain statements made as boldly as possible, writes John Shannon

Increasing media proliferation, from TV channels and websites to WAP phones and other new interactive media – and the ensuing audience fragmentation – are causing advertisers and agencies to focus with renewed concern on the essential task of getting their brands noticed by consumers.

In some ways, the world of advertising is coming full circle, back to the early days when advertisers primarily needed to make their brand famous through bold, confident statements that addressed the world. Now that time-poor consumers are being bombarded with information of all kinds, standing out from the clutter is once more top of the agenda for many advertisers.

For this reason, giant posters in large, densely populated cities are becoming increasingly attractive to major European advertisers. The regeneration taking place in many cities has provided more potential sites, and landlords and outdoor contractors are working closely together to develop what is possibly the purest form of the medium.

Giant sites have also caught the spirit of the times and provide many spin-off publicity benefits.

A prime example is the banner by the leading British artist, Sam Taylor-Wood, on the front of Selfridges in London this summer.

The involvement of an artist of international stature was a great boost to the medium and elevated its status in the minds of many opinion-formers.

A further sign is the expansion across Europe of the German company BlowUp Media, which is the European leader in giant banner displays. It is setting up a UK operation and establishing its European marketing department in London, and has also recently moved into France and Spain.

All the main cities in Germany are host to a few carefully-placed large hoardings showing high-tech, brilliantly illuminated posters from brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike and Mercedes.

A wide range of sectors has used these 140-square metre sites, including telecoms, cosmetics, fashion, media and sports brands.

Advertisers will have to use a range of media to track and build relationships with increasingly elusive consumers, but the first requirement for any mass brand is still to achieve awareness quickly and simply, through high-impact ads that broadcast their brand status and values to the public.

It’s ironic that at a time when media development is largely technologically driven, the oldest and simplest medium should still be playing an important part in mass brand campaigns.v

John Shannon is president and chief executive of Grey International

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