Pushing the boundaries of outdoor and entertainment

Brands are going further than traditional static advertising campaigns in the out-of-home channel, offering an experience through interactivity in order to get cut-through in the cluttered market.

Above: Hertz updated billboards every 24 hours at Wimbledon station during the tennis tournament to display winning names in a ‘fastest serve’ competition

In an average day, someone will make eye contact with around 27 roadside posters and 14 bus advertisements, according to outdoor advertising research body Route, so the ability to capture the attention of the target audience is becoming increasingly important.  

Brands’ spending on outdoor advertising is also increasing. In the second quarter of 2013, revenues rose by 5.9 per cent year on year to £243.1m, according to data from the Outdoor Media Centre.

The growth in spending is aided by advertisers that are willing to experiment with interactive and unusual formats for out-of-home advertising, going beyond simple static ads in order to stand out from other brands. Restaurant chain Yo! Sushi is one such company. 

“We like to do fun, innovative things and are always looking for the next best thing,” says Katie Crossfield, marketing manager at the brand, whose menus comprise Japanese and other Asian cuisines. 

It recently became the first restaurant to install games in the men’s toilets at its Soho, London outlet, where customers aim their stream of urine at sensors in the urinal. Created by Captive Media, variants include On the Piste, where customers guide their ‘character’ through a skiing challenge by aiming to the left or right, and Clever Dick, which is a quiz-based game with multiple choice questions (see case study, below).

Yo! Sushi used the games to advertise beer sold in the restaurant, and is looking at expanding them to other locations across the UK.

The brand allowed customers who played the games to upgrade their beer from a 330ml sized bottle to 500ml using a code given when they finished playing. It resulted in the brand’s beer sales increasing over the three months of the trial. 

Crossfield says: “It’s a fun, interactive way for the customers to see what we have going on in-store and they’re quite subtle messages that these customers are seeing. It became an entertainment factor that people wanted to see it – the advertising almost became second nature.

Yo! Sushi’s male customers could upgrade their beer by playing games during their visit to the toilets

“They didn’t realise what they were getting in return for playing until they saw the offer at the end and came out to redeem it. It became a talking point, it was exciting and it fit really well with the Yo! Sushi brand in general.”

The interactive urinals were originally trialled in a cocktail bar called Ta Bouche in Cambridge in 2011 and currently there are 100 units in 10 countries in Europe and the US. Ta Bouche still has the units installed in the toilets, which are used to promote deals and offers it has in the bar in a similar way to Yo! Sushi.

“One of the selling points is to get a man’s attention without being distracted,” says Graham Horner, operations manager at La Raza Group, which owns Ta Bouche in Cambridge, the first bar to use the games in its urinals. “When you are standing there having a pee and there is something in front of you to read or do, you will read it and take note of it. It’s 60 seconds of having someone’s full attention.”

However the units are also used for more serious messaging – Captive Media is working with Macmillan and DrinkAware, the latter of which raised awareness of the amount of alcohol units in the legal limit by 41 per cent during an eight-week trial campaign.

Data on how many customers have interacted with the advertising is recorded and presented to brands for analysing a campaign’s effectiveness.

Further demonstrating this move towards interactivity in out-of-home is media owner CBS Outdoor. It is currently acting as an advertiser to run its own self-promoting campaign celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. Using 78 sites on the tube system, it is challenging commuters to ‘guess the brand’ in a competition based on straplines and close-up pictures of products, linking up with a dedicated website and social media pages. Consumers can submit their answers, earning a chance to win free travel for a year if they guess all 150 brands.

“The boundaries are now merging between what’s out-of-home and what’s experiential,” says CBS Outdoor marketing and business development director Simon Harrington.

Throughout this year’s Wimbledon tennis championships, rental car brand Hertz ran an outdoor poster campaign linked with an experiential campaign. It saw JCDecaux update 13 billboards every 24 hours at Wimbledon station displaying winners’ names from those who took part in a fastest serve competition set up adjacent to the queue for the tournament (see Q&A below).

British Airways also combined outdoor with experiential, launching a campaign at Victoria Station with newly set up experiential division, JCDecauxLive. The activity used outdoor screens to draw attention to and announce winners of flight simulation game where players had the chance to win British Airways’ tickets.

Harrington also credits the growing use of smartphones for encouraging innovation in outdoor creative: “The fact that everyone has a ‘remote control for life’ in the palm of their hand as they are walking around means that any poster, be it digital or traditional, can be interactive – it just depends what you do with it.”

Outdoor advertising space is also being used in an unusual way for a campaign initiated by Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed, which will see thousands of poster sites and billboards changed into iconic artworks from the UK’s nationally owned collections. Members of the public can become patrons of the exhibition via a crowd-funding initiative accessed through the project’s website. Donations of £3 will buy the paper and printing for one poster site.

CBS’s campaign celebrating 150 years advertising on London Underground takes the form of a quiz to get people involved

The campaign, entitled Art Everywhere, is supported and produced by bodies including the Art Fund, Tate, Posterscope, Vizeum and Blippar, and artworks will be shown on billboard sites made available for free across the UK for two weeks from Friday (10 August). The producers of the campaign believe that by using these sites in an unconventional way it will reach new audiences and inspire debate and involvement in British art.

Perhaps most unconventional of all, instead of a traditional poster site to drum up interest around the Heineken Cup rugby final, in May this year tournament sponsor Heineken created a 5 metre x 7.5 metre 3D video mapping installation in Dublin, called Social Tracker, partnering with projection specialists Projection Advertising.

The activity combined the outdoor space with a social media element, something which the brand sees as an important part of sports marketing.

The structure displayed live Twitter activity as an infographic, allowing fans to influence the installation by tweeting support for the finalists. The Social Tracker scanned Twitter, via the hashtag #GetInTheGame, for positive and negative sentiment and measured it along with volume and trends before the data was translated into 3D graphics in real time and projected onto the outdoor installation.

Heineken Ireland sponsorship brand manager Karl Donnelly says: “Today, so much of the conversation around sports events takes place across social media. Heineken recognises how important this space is. We utilised this rich conversation and harnessed it with visual animations and projections over the weekend of the Heineken Cup final in May. A custom-built structure for this visual display also provided an interactive virtual kicking game: fans could kick conversions which, in turn, sent tweets in support of various teams. A social sentiment project like this has never been seen before in Ireland.”

The activity was part of Heineken’s Get in the Game campaign, which as a whole saw fans engage with Heineken Cup rugby online, on their mobiles and in pubs and venues around the country, with a total of 85,000 people interacting.

Even without groundbreaking technology, using outdoor advertising space in a clever way can lead to more impactful advertising. As part of Warburtons’ launch of its Half and Half bread range using wholemeal and white flour, the bakery brand took over the Chiswick Towers outdoor poster site in west London. This formed part of its 2013 breakfast-focused campaigns in which it has invested almost £16m.

Working with advertising agency WCRS, Warburtons featured on large-format LED screens on each side of London’s M4 motorway and, according to the brand, the activity connected the product’s point of difference with the innovative media space – the idea features one half of the Warburtons Half and Half loaf on either side of the road.

Megan Harrison, marketing controller at Warburtons, says: “It’s all to do with simplicity, instant visual impact and a key message.”

Harrison adds: “The main thing was that Half and Half product was the hero. The format of [media site] Chiswick Towers lends itself well to the benefits and essence of the product. In every way it was the perfect format for this product.”

Warburtons used the site specifically to target consumers in London, as it is an area of the business in which it is aiming to develop. The campaign had already been on the traditional channels, including TV and radio, so the opportunity to feature out-of-home allowed the brand to drive awareness in a way that would be memorable for consumers.

Ensuring outdoor campaigns serve a purpose and are unique and interactive has helped a wide selection of brands achieve a level of cut-through they now need in a world crowded with marketing messages. As experiential and out-of-home advertising increasingly merge, it is clear that getting people to interact will play a bigger role in the way outdoor advertising is measured and evaluated in future.

Marketing Week is running Outdoor Works, an invitation-only conference in partnership with specialist outdoor agencies, on 18 September. Readers can view exclusive content and register to receive insights from at outdoorworks.marketingweek.co.uk.

Case Study

Bathroom games

Captive Media’s games, which are installed in urinals, have been used by Yo! Sushi, DrinkAware, Macmillan and bars and pubs in the UK and abroad, with 100 units currently in place across Europe and the US. The machines are urine-controlled games in men’s toilets that involve minute-long challenges.

Research conducted by Captive Media shows the results of campaigns that brands and venues have run in the past. Sales of Tiger Beer rose 100 per cent when promoted in London’s Exhibit bar between January and February 2012, when compared with the same period in 2011.

The company also found that 97 per cent of respondents would tell their friends about the game, 79 per cent say they would stay in the venue longer and 66 per cent say they were likely to return to play the game.

Cambridge cocktail bar Ta Bouche was the first venue to trial the interactive urinals. It uses the games for its promotions, which have included one in 2011 that advertised spirit shots that led to an uplift of 264 units a week, 22 per cent more than average weekly sales.

Graham Horner, operations director at La Raza Group, which owns Ta Bouche, says: “It worked, people were coming up and requesting the deals.”

He admits, however, that he was initially sceptical: “When [Captive Media] called and explained what it was looking at doing and that it had a prototype that I could look at, I couldn’t believe what they were saying.”

The bar even admits that installing the games in its toilets has helped with cleanliness, as men are encouraged to aim at specific points to trigger the sensors that control the game, and are therefore less likely to miss the urinal.


Katie Mansfield, director for brand, innovation and direct channel marketing, Hertz

Marketing Week (MW): What do you see as the main challenges of achieving cut-through with outdoor advertising?

Katie Mansfield (KM): Now it’s not only a wealth of brands trying to grab our attention but the alluring call of the Candy Crush game on our phones or the free newspapers. A key tool to ensure cut-through is to make posters as relevant and contextual as possible. For our Wimbledon campaign JCDecaux was able
to do 24-hour reposting, for example.  

MW: How important is innovation in outdoor?

KM: For Hertz, the speed of service is at the heart of everything we do, so to take a traditional channel and demonstrate an unexpectedly quick response time as a smart way of using the medium to back up the creative messaging.

MW: Is interactivity a necessity in outdoor? 

KM: Linking an online call to action can deliver good results in terms of click-through. It allows
us to extend our communications.

MW: Do you think experiential and outdoor advertising are beginning to merge?

KM: Yes. Because of digital screens, we can take consumer behaviour, local context and a wealth of other data and feed it into our communications. Even the traditional poster can be used to create a real-time engaging experience.

MW: How important is outdoor media to your overall marketing strategy?

KM: Outdoor has always been a powerful tool for us. The great thing about outdoor advertising is the ability to own spaces, whether that’s posters dominating a rail station or immersing an audience in the brand messages through experiential work, the ability to really
command attention is key.



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