Predicting big things for brands that invest in super-size posters

Too many brands seem to be scrambling for a slice of the same media pie. Giant posters are the way to stand aloof from the scrum, says Ian Bohn

The Olympics and the Euro 2004 championships this summer will be key events for a range of major advertisers. Whether they are official sponsors or guerrillas snatching parcels of fame for a much lower cost, each will be attempting to benefit from the emotional dramas of top-class sport.

Yet the big problem for advertisers will be cutting through the clutter that proliferates across most media. Top-and-tail advert-isements, sponsorship bumpers, programme trailers, online and SMS activity, the massed sections of the Sunday papers, ambient media, mailshots on the doormat – the list of promotional activity grows every year.

This frenzied activity is entirely understandable. Competition is more intense than ever. Marketers feel their brands must fight to gain attention and make their pitch to the consumer before another proposition grabs his interest.

Yet in many ways, this continual search for attention and novelty means that the idea of building a lasting, stable reputation has been underrated and, in some cases, forgotten.

Historically, great brands such as Guinness were created by becoming consistently visible, through having the confidence to put themselves in the public eye, using the most spectacular and high-impact media available. Consumers recognised this confidence and willingness to be judged, which inspired trust and brought reassurance.

These were brands that believed in consistent fame and in standing out from the crowd. Clearly in business for the long term, known and trusted by their consumers, they were part of the commercial, media and, to some extent, the social landscape. Nowadays, brands such as Coke, Nike and Vodafone still recognise this truth.

But how and where can such brands achieve that status today? Now that television is fragmented and even the mass-market channels are cluttered with ads, bumpers, credits and trailers, there is only one medium that provides the flagship environment for great brands to stand out enough to become and stay famous: giant posters, the highest-impact (and highest-quality) sector of outdoor.

Last year, Audi took a budget earmarked for TV and put it into giant posters, seeing this as a medium that can rival the small screen for impact. The Mini spearheaded its launch campaign with a 14-site giant poster spree, and in March HBOS launched its high-income account with seven giant banner sites in financial districts across the UK.

Local authorities are recognising the benefits giant posters bring to the urban environment, while developers and landlords welcome the additional revenues they provide. As a result, the number of sites available and the quality of locations are steadily increasing in the UK’s cities.

This is a trend that serious advertisers need to bear in mind, especially amid the advertising mayhem of this year’s major world sporting events.

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