Abcon Media ‘grows’ a new business strategy

Latest venture Living Logo aims to sell 24 biodegradable topiary OOH ads by the end of 2018.

The out-of-home business is on a digital marathon that is seeing fancy, tech-heavy boards sprouting up on highways and cities across the country. In metro markets real estate billboards flash and buzz, zoom in and out, giving agencies the ability to buy space for multiple messages and shift away from the limitations of static advertising.

But one company is launching a business that is banking on public interest in more green ventures, and marketers wanting to make good on go-green promises.

Topiary advertising isn’t new in Canada. In fact the Gardiner Expressway has hosted a series of topiary logo-based ads along the highway on land leased from C.N. Rail for well over two decades. Those flower-bed-style logos have become part of the urban Toronto landscape.

But Abcon Media CEO and president Leslie Abro feels that the moment is right for his company to dive into topiary advertising. His company has sold a space close to the Woodbine Race Track (owned by the Woodbine Entertainment Group) and has obtained an amendment to the sign bylaw to allow 24 third-party topiary ads along Highway 27 and Rexdale Boulevard. Those signs inaugurate his new venture, Living Logo, which plans to sell all 24 ads by the end of 2018

Abro is not a newcomer to niche advertising or interesting projects. All of his advertising businesses are seasonal and niche. And in 2010 he merged art with advertising when he commissioned New York artist, Sergio Furnari to build 17 life-size sculptures of men sitting atop a billboard eating lunch. The project was inspired by Charles Ebbet’s iconic 1932 photograph Lunch Atop a Skyscraper.

While this latest venture isn’t quite as avante garde, it goes against the grain of current digital trends in the business. The topiary signs are composed of a combination of wood, stone, plants and paints, all of which are biodegradable. The base and frame are built on the ground (as the image shows) out of wood and the logo shape is carved out of marine plywood, mounted upon the base’s platform. The logo is then filled with white marble chips and the background is populated with green grass. Each logo is 16 feet high and 50 to 60 feet wide, depending on the size of the logo.

The announcement around the launch of Living Logo follows the sale of Abcon’s mural and wall banner business to Cieslok Media. That division included seven faces in downtown Toronto and with its sale, Abro says he will focus on the new topiary business. He plans to have between eight and ten signs up by the end of the year.

The sale was not planned, says Abro, but resulted after Cieslok Media approached his company. “It was time to move on and topiary is much easier. I wanted to move outside the big format outdoor world and this happened to be a lot easier to work with.”

While the sale means we are likely to see more consolidating in the OOH market, Abro says green is the way of the future. “This is absolutely the opposite end of the [digital] spectrum and people love green.”

The logo boards are given to companies for year-long advertising periods.

Abcon continues to grow its other seasonal advertising businesses – Golf Advertising (on golf carts), Boom-Ad Advertising Systems (parking gate advertising) and Night Projections (projecting ads on the sides of buildings).