With a nod to the recent 75th edition of the Obie Awards, which celebrate creative excellence in OOH, here is Primedia Outdoor’s A-Z of creative guidelines for OOH, with examples from this year’s Obie winners.

'Oreo Eclipse' by Grand Creative

  • Accuracy – Get it right;
  • Boldness – Simple, strong, and dramatic is the order of the day;
  • Contrast – According to a study by the University of Alberta, Canada, high colour contrast can improve an OOH ad recall by 38%; and 
  • Distance – A headline must be legible at any reasonable distance, from close by, to at least 200m away. When designing, consider how the design looks from the other side of the room and how it looks as you walk briskly past it.

Exposure Consumers are exposed to OOH within half an hour before many important activities, including:

  • 96% of in-store shopping;
  • 68% of overall purchases;
  • 42% of online shopping mobile activity;
  • 34% of brand-related social media use;
  • 32% of mobile searches; and
  • 28% of mobile social media use.

  • Focus – Good OOH has a single focus, either positioning or selling your product - never both at the same time. For example, the focus could be to build brand awareness, to move product, to give directions, or to generate phone calls/web hits; and
  • Humour – If you get it right, humour is a sure winner.

Jeep – 'There’s only one' campaign by BBDO Canada

  • Image and background – Strong images against simple backgrounds create high impact visuals. Images placed against complex backgrounds can be difficult to process, according to the OAAA’s Creating Effective OOH Advertising;
  • Kerning and stacking – A single horizontal line of text allows the audience to quickly grasp the message. Multiple lines of text slow down comprehension, and are therefore not as effective;
  • Location, location, location – Ideally, you want to send the right message, to the right market, at the right time, to reach the right audience in the right place; and 
  • Multiple executions – According to the University of Alberta, multiple executions are 14% more likely to deliver greater impact and extend the life of a campaign. Fresh creative executions over time will continue to build awareness and maintain high levels of recall. 

The Economist’s campaign extended to pizza boxes by BBDO New York

  • Not seasonal – People are mobile all year round, so seasonality does not usually affect OOH;
  • Product ID – Make sure that it’s clear what product is being advertised, and that it isn’t easy to confuse this with the competition’s offerings;
  • Quick – Because the audience is often in motion, the viewing time of an OOH product is sometimes limited to a few seconds. Good OOH design, therefore, depends not only on the type style or the combination of colours used but also how these elements work together when viewed at a distance;
  • Simplicity – A mobile audience, whether walking, riding or driving means that OOH designs require a disciplined and succinct creative approach. Simplicity is everything, and because good OOH design demands this, it can lead to better advertising executions in other media. According to research conducted by the University of Alberta, an ad is 21% more likely to be noticed if it has a single-minded focus. Simple and direct messages/visuals leave lasting impressions, while complex ad messages are less effective; 
  • Typestyle – Fonts selected for outdoor advertising designs must be easy to read from variable distances, and adequate spacing between letters, words and lines will enhance visibility; and 
  • Use the surroundings – OOH can go anywhere – from a shopping mall floor to daily modes of transportation, through various creative executions. 

Ask.com transformed a subway train by Four Man Furnace

  • Winning awards – Ninety-two percent of Cannes Lion’s shortlisted entries incorporated OOH; 
  • Xpert advice – In the words of Leo Burnett, from a globally active advertising agency based in Chicago, “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at.”; and
  • ZA – The Obies recognise the best of American OOH advertising, but we have no shortage of great local OOH right here in South Africa.
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