Cool sh!t: Inspiring creativity in OOH

With so many contests running to promote creativity in out-of-home media, MiC set out to discover what’s driving the surge in artistic OOH interest.

In their most traditional form, billboards may not be considered the highest form of art. But in fact, out-of-home media represents one of the best opportunities for high-profile artistic display, industry execs argue.

To illustrate that, Astral, Newad and the Out-of-home Marketing Association of Canada (OMAC) have all launched creativity-focused competitions recently with the goal of showcasing outstanding OOH creative.

Astral Out of Home last week opened the 2011 edition of its now-annual Carte Blanche contest. The competition features creative pieces from agencies that submit entries without briefing their client (just getting permission to enter.) Entries are judged by other creative industry members and winning media agencies have the opportunity to win one of two $50,000 prizes in OOH inventory, Michael Alexandor, head of media, markets and innovation, Astral Out of Home, tells MiC.

“Some of the best and most memorable creative of any medium is done in OOH,” he says. “We want to celebrate the creative possibilities of OOH, hence the no-brief approach.”

Alexandor says OOH is one of the only areas of advertising that continues to grow – consumers are continually exposed to billboards and DOOH while other mediums continue to fragment.

“Efficiencies aren’t what they used to be in media planning because of increased audience fragmentation in traditional channels,” he says. “OOH is a mass medium which is actually not becoming more fragmented and interrupted. People are spending more time outside interacting. There is also a huge tie-in for OOH with mobile.”

Also in the game is Montreal-based Newad, which just announced an extension to the submission deadline for its annual Art Here contest, which looks for fresh ideas in the outdoor advertising industry.

Michael Reha, president and CEO, Newad, says contrary to popular perception, OOH isn’t experiencing a shortage in creativity at all. In fact it’s quite the opposite.

“I think OOH is one of the most creative media,” he says. “The possibilities are endless. In the past we have had clients insert dispensers in our classic boards, colour their frames and add decals in and around them just to note a few examples.”

The Out-of-Home Marketing Association of Canada also recently opened voting on its Facebook page for users to share their take on award-winning OOH design from around the globe. Voting closes on April 18.

The purpose of the contest is to change perception of the OOH medium, Rosanne Caron, president, OMAC, recently told MiC.

‘We hear from marketers and others in the industry that creating for OOH can be a challenge,’ she says. ‘It requires you to distill your message down into a key point, which I think is important in any medium but sometimes can be more challenging in OOH. We thought by putting together an award-winning collection of OOH campaigns it would serve as inspiration for creative people but also show marketers what is being done around the world.’