Think BR: How does outdoor work?
New research from the Outdoor Advertising Association shows outdoor is a powerful medium for building brands and can compete with TV to push brand search, writes its chief executive, Mike Baker.
Outdoor Advertising Association chief executive Mike Baker
One hundred days into the new job at the OAA already and I'm wondering if I have asked enough naïve questions. Am I allowed to carry over a few into my next hundred days in the role? There’s so much to find out about and so much to learn.
Which brings me to the OAA’s latest research piece, The Brand Building Power of Outdoor, launched this week to 250 people at the Apollo cinema and one in a series of research presentations.
Commissioned from Mindshare’s Business Intelligence division, this initiative broadly answered the question, "How does outdoor work?" The nice thing is that there’s more than one answer, and each of them invites more scrutiny in future.
At one level, it’s pretty brainy stuff, and it comes from a detailed study of brand equity, using Millward Brown’s BrandZ archive of hundreds of brand studies, interlaced with six years worth of Nielsen spend data and data from Google Analytics.
But at another level, we can say the findings are simple. First, outdoor advertising drives fame and familiarity with the advertised brands. Second, outdoor is associated with thriving and successful brands. Third, outdoor bestows lots of attractive brand attributes (confident, trustworthy, desirable, sexy) on the advertised brands. And fourthly, outdoor competes with TV as the medium which drives the most brand search, pound for pound.
The last result stands out as a fabulous bonus really, although the findings are confined to four important categories so far, namely motors, insurance (brands not price comparison retailers), travel and mobile handsets. But it’s a welcome deliverable, and suggests a causal link between posters and brand search, with consumers actively registering brand advertising and wanting to find out more.
As to brand attributes and personality, I am not a bit surprised. Outdoor advertisements (long-copy executions aside) don’t typically carry much in the way of rational message, so the real takeout is likely to be emotional – emotional attributes being exactly what brand equity is all about, after all. Outdoor is the most visual medium too, and all brands have a visual quality, so it’s no surprise to find consumer out-take of positive attributes.
By coincidence I read a tweet from Time.com yesterday about two real-life studies at the University of Minnesota, which bear this out in an ambient sort of way.
In one, a set of MBA students were given a branded pen from MIT to walk about with and carry on campus. They were interviewed at the end and found to consider themselves brainier and better leaders than a control set of respondents who carried a standard pen.
In the other study, 85 women in a shopping mall were given a Victoria’s Secret shopping bag to carry around for an hour, and guess what, after an hour they were interviewed and found to feel sexier, more glamorous and better-looking than a control set of ladies who carried a generic bag.
If you can achieve that in an hour, imagine if they’d been asked to carry the bags for a whole two week campaign!
And what were both sets of respondents doing? Advertising themselves outdoor to others. Did it work? You bet it did. Note to self: put an MIT pen on the birthday present list and get hold of one of those Victoria’s Secret bags. You need a bit of a lift
Mike Baker, chief executive, Outdoor Advertising Association
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