Why brands should give banners another chance

In their eagerness to embrace new ad strategies spawned by developing technology, brands have forgotten the power of the banner

Does anyone believe in straightforward brand advertising any more? To judge by the latest reaction to new technology and the continuing fragmentation of TV (and press) audiences, it would seem that the ad industry is in a state of turmoil about how it should reach the consumer.

We are told the future lies in subtle strategies such as “stealth advertising”, sponsored programmes, “non-branded” press ads and, on the Internet, “viral marketing”. Anything in fact but bold and powerful statements by companies confident enough to broadcast their wares in the market.

This is all taking things too far. Of course the industry has to adjust to rapid change in the media landscape but the first requirement for any mass brand is awareness, indeed fame, achieved quickly and simply.

And this is still perfectly possible. Look at outdoor, the one uncluttered, high impact medium left, which because of the steadily increasing number of road journeys in the UK, is in the enviable position of enjoying growing audiences.

Furthermore the surge of new building taking place in the UK’s major cities in recent years has led to an increase in the use of giant banner ads, the purest form of outdoor, to cover unsightly scaffolding and building sites.

Advertisers and agencies are now starting to exploit the potential of these displays, because of their ability to make high impact brand statements that stand out from the media clutter and information flow which continually bombards consumers.

Take Germany, for example, which has always had very strict rules about advertising in its cities – what can be built, the effects of media clutter

and so on. Through consultation with Germany’s planners and a commitment to the highest quality production and installation standards, a complete change in their attitudes has come about.

Now all the main cities in Germany are host to a few carefully placed, large hoardings showing hi-tech, illuminated posters from brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple and Opel. In fact, a wide range of sectors have used the medium, including telecoms, cosmetics, fashion, media and sports brands. The average site is 120sq metres. UK advertisers and specialists do not have this wide range of options.

It’s time for the UK to see the benefits of such an outlook. Everyone wins: landlords gain an acceptable income stream, advertisers and agencies have a regular portfolio of large, high impact sites that they can incorporate into their planning, and the public enjoy these spectacular visuals.

The quality of outdoor advertising in the UK has never been higher. Now that mass branding is becoming far more difficult in the main media, I believe it’s time for the giant banner ad format to be perceived as a unique resource for brand advertisers.

Mark Bracey is managing director of BlowUp Media UK

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