Billboard text: "Dear person in London who listened to the 'Forever' Alone' playlist for 5 hours on Valentine's Day, you ok?" ~Spotify

Disclaimer: I write this post with full self-awareness.  This opinion is not the common or popular belief…which is all the more reason why it needs to be said.

Some of the most creative, most memorable and therefore most effective advertising right now is in a medium about as old as advertising itself. Outdoor/OOH advertising. All marketers can take a few cues from what’s happening in this space.

For quite some time, I’ve been in the habit of snapping pictures of clever billboards or wall wraps I find while walking around San Francisco, New York, London or other city centers. Recently while reviewing my very full camera roll I realized how many pictures I had of outdoor advertising campaigns that inspired me or made me send an emphatic “well done!” out in into the universe to the team behind the brilliance. It’s then that it hit me - the creativity, the art of marketing, displayed in outdoor advertising is often (dare I say generally?) surpassing that of TV and especially digital.

One could argue there are plenty of creative applications and concepts currently executed in various forms of digital and social advertising - which is certainly true - but when looking at mediums as a whole, I don’t think any other platform is consistently churning out creative and compelling work like outdoor.

Advertising is such preeminent force in every day life (it’s estimated the average person sees more than 5,000 advertising messages in a single day). Because of its pervasiveness, I believe more than ever the best ways to break through the clutter and genuinely get consumers’ attention is to surprise them or make them laugh. Two things outdoor does exceptionally well.

Think about it…the narratives and concepts for outdoor campaigns have to be very simple - someone is generally whizzing by in a car or on a train. The message is generally visually-driven message (e.g. the #shotoniphone campaign) and the brand logo is prominent, making it easy for passerby to connect the message and tagline to the brand.

How often do we as marketers clutter up our messages in a 30-second spot, an Instagram post or even native advertising post? Are we leading with the images that capture attention and including succinct, engaging copy? Is it clear what we’re actually promoting?

Yes, it is much more difficult to track the ROI on outdoor advertising and all of marketing is becoming increasingly mired in the science of analytics and metrics. But, I guarantee you, consumers remember the art of the straightforward and clever narratives of OOH advertising.

We’d all do well to remember that ourselves.

*Image note - it was hard to choose, but this was my favorite of a series of Spotify wall wraps spotted in the London tube.
**I love this as a different example of using data in marketing - use it to create interesting content!