Notes from the mediascape: giving sidewalks a branded scrubbing

When the snow melts, eco-friendly cost-effective OOH campaigns bloom.

Washing brand logos onto dirty street pavements first premiered as a medium about three years ago, but in Canada and abroad, the environmentally-friendly process is establishing itself as an effective medium.

London, UK-based media agency Curb recently took on their largest project yet – imprinting 750 adverts across the UK for a Kia campaign. ‘We looked at ways of delivering the media type seriously on a large scale, not just in tens and twenties, and we’ve managed to do that,’ says Anthony Ganjou, managing director of Curb, which launched last September. Only rain water is used to blast the logos onto pavement.

Initially the platform intended to target the ‘young, edgy’ demo, says Ganjou, but that has recently changed. ‘We’re now starting to work with major household names that are actually right in the mainstream,’ Ganjou tells MiC. Some of that is due to the hyper-targeting ability of the medium, like placing ads in front of particular buildings frequented by the desired crowd.

Once the snow melts Canadians might also see more sidewalk campaigns, given last year’s success of ‘Streetwash,’ says Vancouver-based Vision Media, a green-friendly OOH specialist. Last fall Vision developed anti-smoking campaigns for the BC government, and nationally, in partnership with OptiAdMedia (now owned by Grassroots), they conducted campaigns for LG Shine (Spring 2008) and Scotts lawn care (Summer 2008) – about 50 stencils each.

‘Scotts lawn care was doing a product called EcoSense, so again using the water to wash the logo on a dirty piece of cement really went with their brand. And their creative was really organic-looking so it just paired up with the medium really well,’ says Vision’s Adam Crabb, operations manager guerrilla and new media. The number of impressions vary based on the location, says Crabb, but the stencils usually last between seven and 14 days, and are placed in high-traffic areas like Dundas Square or Union Station in Toronto.

But not all Canadians were as accepting of the medium – while well-received in the eco-conscious Vancouver area, in Montreal, the campaigns received bad press after complaints from individuals who felt the stencils were an intrusion on public space.

The cost with Vision is about $2,000 for 10 applications, but can vary for blanket campaigns.