Gen Wise Perspective

Gen Y's perspective (pun intended) on our journey through work, life, and everything in between.

Is outdoor advertising still effective?

Lately it seems like the buzz always surrounds digital/interactive marketing. There are many predictions of the death of traditional advertising and I know I’m guilty of wondering about that myself…

But this morning I walked by a bus stop on Dearborn and Kinzie, and the bus bench was completely transformed into an ABSOLUT advertisement (see the picture). Instead of a bench there are three bright green and white striped chairs to match the swirl of green and white in the background, all of which are representative of an ABSOLUT Tonic Twist.

I don’t normally notice outdoor advertisements. It’s very rare that one will catch my attention like this did. But then it hit me:

Outdoor advertising can still be effective, but not if it’s the same outdoor advertising we saw 30 years ago.

When we muse about the “death of traditional advertising,” maybe it’s really a matter of saying that traditional advertising needs to evolve. You can still catch our eye with traditional media if the ad makes a statement.

How can traditional ads grab our attention? By doing what ABSOLUT did: thinking outside the box. Instead of merely placing an ad on the side of the bus stop, ABSOLUT created an ad that embodied the bus stop.

Is this effective? Well, the next time I go to the store and see ABSOLUT on the shelf I’m going to remember that bus stop. It’ll make me wonder what that flavor tastes like and make me more inclined to buy it. I’ll also associate ABSOLUT with creativity and forward-thinking, which instantly makes it a “cooler” brand that Gen Ys tend to gravitate toward.

Another way ABSOLUT increased the effectiveness of this ad campaign is by spreading the creativity to other forms of outdoor advertising to really hammer home the message/keep that green and white at the forefront of our minds.

Here’s an ABSOLUT billboard that continues with the “Twist” theme:

Does this approach create buzz? It can. It’s the type of ad campaign people talk about because it’s different from the rest—“Hey did you see that ABSOLUT bus stop? How sweet was that?!”*Gen Yer pulls out laptop or iPhone and Google Image searches for the ABSOLUT Twist bus stop ad Chicago* “Check it out!”

(Yes I’m mocking us a bit but it’s not too far off from how Millennials share information)

So before we predict the death of traditional forms of advertising, maybe we need to start thinking about how traditional advertising can be effective in today’s society. Let’s not write it off just yet. Instead, let’s find ways to put it into the context of 2010.

Has anyone else seen some really innovative uses of traditional advertising lately? I’d love to hear about them.

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2 thoughts on “Is outdoor advertising still effective?

  1. Mike Barwick on said:

    I think outdoor advertising still works – to a certain degree. For example, I think it only works within specific niche markets, and most important, only works with established brands, like Absolute.

    For small businesses and start-ups, unless they have a handsome lending tree, outdoor advertising can be their marketing downfall. My plan always involves a bit of both (traditional and online advertising). But again, depends on the brand and their market.

    Just my thoughts. Anyone one in the outdoor ad sales industry will strongly disagree with the above, haha.

    Great read.
    Morning vodka and tonic? Yes please. :p

    • Jackie Lampugnano on said:

      Thanks for the comment, Mike! It’s afternoon now so I guess you can order a vodka tonic without as much shame…

      I definitely agree that outdoor advertising still works with established brands. Those tend to be the brands who have the funds to do something crazy innovative like Absolut. And, when you’re walking or driving by an outdoor ad you don’t really have time to stop and figure out which brand it is–something like Absolut is easy to identify.

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