Creatives outdoors at Cannes

Campaign caught up with four creative chiefs in Cannes to get their views on digital out of home and its power to unleash creative potential.

Peter Souter, chairman and chief creative officer, TBWA\London

Is technology outpacing creativity in out of home?
I am not sure that’s entirely the case.  When they are in complete harmony is when it’s working best – when both parties really understand each other and they do something that only digital out of home can do.

British Airways’ Grand Prix-winning "magic of flying" is a wonderful combination of brilliant technology, brilliantly used.

As a creative director talking to brands about media choices, what would help you get the most out of digital out of home?
There’s something very interesting happening in outdoor. To me, it’s the last shared experience. People aren’t watching the TV at the same time or surfing the internet at the same time but we are all walking around in the same environment. There’s an amazing opportunity to use digital out of home to remind people that they can be creative outdoors.

I grew up on posters. I love posters – I love the simplicity of them. But really what has to happen is that we have to understand that now the posters move, talk to you, interact and are relevant to where they are in a town. So it’s a very exciting time.

What will digital out of home look like in five years’ time?
It’s kind of tricky. What we do know is that ideas will be current. And if ideas and technology work hand in hand, then cool stuff’s going to happen.

It’s going to be more of a matter of what digital out of home can’t do. I don’t know and I’m looking forward to finding out – and finding out early. I want to see if there’s anything digital media owners have invented but they don’t yet know what it’s for.

How do you see the future of digital out of home?
There will soon be nothing you can’t do in a street. What I used to love about posters is that they had to be less than nine words with one image to really work – now they can be movies, pieces of interactivity, places to pay, almost anything to do with the business of selling. So that’s pretty cool. The short answer to the question of where outdoor is going is that it’s going everywhere.

Nicky Bullard, executive creative director, Lida

Is technology outpacing creativity in out of home?
Technology is helping us connect but we’re not making the most of it. There are a couple of examples of great work at Cannes but they are one-offs. We’ve got national media here that is digital: why aren’t we joining it up and doing something fresh and creative?

As a creative director talking to brands about media choices, what would help you get the most out of digital out of home?
The thing that would help us get more out of it is personalisation. We’re all about knowing our customers so we could use that data to really connect in the outdoor space. If we could catch them, in the right place, at the right time and with the right message, then I think we could see some huge results for our clients.

How do you see the future of digital out of home?
In direct, we are thinking about the customer journey all the time, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could bring to life the real customer journey (my journey to work, or dropping the kids at school, or a trip to the sandwich shop). Let’s really bring it to life and tap into the insights we know about our customers, tap into that data and catch them at the right time.

Digital out of home is a phenomenal opportunity right here and now. There’s all the technology that media owners have at their fingertips and we’ve seen some of the creativity already at Cannes. Let’s fuse the two things together and do some fabulous work.

Gerry Human, executive creative director, Ogilvy & Mather London

Is technology outpacing creativity in out of home?
Definitely – technology has outpaced what people have done. There’s a big perception that digital is more expensive but that’s often not the case. It’s about people getting used to a way of working.

When we sit down and work on a project, say for a beer brand, we talk a lot about using outdoor and what happens is creatives get caught up in old habits.

So when we talk about outdoor, it’s not yet ordinary for people to say we should make this digital out of home.  But I think it’s a matter of time, and a not too distant time, when it’ll be pretty much standard (to think digital).

Outdoor being digital is not a challenge at all for a creative person; it’s much more of an opportunity. You see so much potential in what you can do with an idea versus the extreme difficulty of trying to resolve an idea with a two-dimensional piece of paper. That is much much more challenging than when you have technology, film-based imagery and are working with many more pieces to enable you to say something relevant.

What are the trends in digital out of home?
What’s interesting about it is this idea of technology being able to personalise what it does for people. So it’s like real ambient space interacting with real life.

So you’re walking by and there’s a train and that’s happening in real time – we’re using something that’s happening in real time and we’re able to very personally get involved with you and speak to you directly as a human being, as opposed to a giant audience.

Outdoor has always been about putting out messages to large groups of people. Almost overnight, I can speak to one individual person – and that’s exciting.

What will digital out of home look like in five years’ time?
More and more, we are talking to mass individuals rather than mass audiences. You’ll be able to target precisely where people are – on the beach or at the station – and you’ll be able to talk to them in that moment, at that time and almost down to who they are, whether they are male, female, running or walking, so "mass individualisation" is my cheesy jargon

Malcolm Poynton, chief creative officer, Europe, SapientNitro

Is technology outpacing creativity in out of home?
Part of it is a knowledge gap, with creatives not really understanding what they can do with the medium.

As a creative director talking to brands about media choices, what would help you get the most out of digital out of home?
The potential is huge to emotionally connect and create participation with consumers with a brand story. We only know the surface of how far digital out of home can go. The potential of connecting to mobile devices – such as the Mobile Medic campaign in Australia, where augmented reality can diagnose what’s going on with a patient in a poster – is just a clue to where this could go.

What I’m looking for all the time is how to emotionally engage people and get them to engage with the brand story. Digital out of home is certainly one way of doing that.

How do you see the future of digital out of home?
The British Airways ad this year has really opened people’s eyes to a whole new different potential that is there and is a great example of how we can expect to do things in the future.

Other things to consider are proximity and context. We’ll get more engagement where there is higher dwell time, so I think areas such as Piccadilly Circus and the Westfield shopping centres are going to be much more core to how we engage through digital out of home as well.

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