The best outdoor ads of 2018 so far

According to Outsmart, out of home advertising grew 5.3% from Q1 2017 to reach £267 million in Q1 2018.

Boosted by investment, it’s also been reported that the distribution of digital screens is on the rise, leading to a number of big brands creating innovative and exciting campaigns to reach audiences.

Here’s some of the best out of home campaigns we’ve seen in 2018 so far, and the reasons why they work.

McDonald’s and the Met Office icons

2018 has been an unpredictable year for weather, with the UK going from snow to scorching heat in the space of just a few months. We couldn’t shut up about it, naturally, which is why brands couldn’t help but join in.

McDonald’s was one of the cleverest examples, teaming up with the Met Office in April to bring weather to life on screens throughout the country.

McDonalds out of home
By Leo Burnett

Menu items were turned into weather icons (to represent live temperatures in select locations), such as an upside down box of fries to represent rain, and an unwrapped burger to represent sun.

Created by agency Leo Burnett, it was a unique campaign from McDonalds, and a nice nod to the British propensity for weather-related chat.

Diageo & dynamic ads

Another company to create a weather-activated campaign this year was Diageo, specifically for its five spirits brands – Gordon’s, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan, Smirnoff and Smirnoff Cider.

The weather wasn’t the only data utilised, with dynamic digital screens also changing in accordance with time and day of the week.

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For example, an ad for Gordon’s Gin switched from one that said ‘Sun’s out gins out’ to “Too busy for a 5pm G&T? – depending on the time and weather.

Diageo OOH
By Posterscope

Another trigger for Smirnoff Cider ads included the temperature hitting a certain level, with these locations purposely being chosen near parks and other recreational areas.

With the weather (especially sunny weather) being a typical motivation for drinking activity, the campaign was cleverly aligned to tap into the consumer’s mood and behaviour.

Corona & World Oceans Day sculpture

While some brands launch country-wide campaigns, others choose to make a splash in single location, as well as to mark a specific occasion.

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In June, Corona did just this with its creative outdoor installation for World Oceans Day, which raises awareness about marine pollution around the world.

Based in London’s Old Street, the sculpture – called The ‘Wave of Waste’ – depicted Australian actor Chis Hemsworth surfing on a wave of plastic collected in the UK. Passers-by were encouraged to drop their own rubbish at the site to be added to the installation.

Corona OOH
By Primesight

For Corona, it was a chance to highlight a worthy cause, and one that aligns with its image as a summery brand, and one that typically uses beaches in its advertising campaigns.

The installation itself was impressive, generating a huge amount of interest and conversation on social media. Meanwhile, with consumers keen for brands to get involved with social good, it’s likely to have increased positive sentiment towards Corona.

Nike’s ‘Now Do It Again’ billboard

Another stand-out standalone campaign this year comes from Nike, with its billboard to celebrate Cristiano Ronaldo’s historic move to Juventus.

The massive billboard, located in Turin, listed off his impressive accomplishments, including the feat of scoring 573 club goals, scoring in 11 straight league games, and being FIFA’s player of the year five times.

The end of the billboard read: “Now forget it all, and do it again” – marking the player’s clean slate with Juventus.

Nike now do it again
By W + K Amsterdam

While this campaign is arguably less innovative than others in the list (with no dynamic elements), its timely nature and excellent creative is a good example of how OOH can be utilised to great effect.

Tapping into a sporting event, and one that’s rooted in location, the Turin-based billboard was bound to attract attention from both locals and visiting football fans.

Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 campaign

This May, Channel 4 marked the start of season two of the Handmaid’s Tale with a provocative OOH campaign in Britain’s tube and train stations.

The idea was to bring to life Gilead’s oppressive laws – the totalitarian state featured in the show.

Billboards were put up in London’s Waterloo, reading: “The only job for a woman is to reproduce” and “A woman’s place is at home”. The Metro also changed its cover to say: “Women are not allowed to read this newspaper”.

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Handmaids Tale OOH
Image via It’s Nice That

Luckily for unsuspecting commuters (who might be unaware of the story), it also included a reveal, which made clear that the billboards were promoting a fictional story.

The idea was to create a temporary sense of shock and outrage, in order to make the campaign memorable (as well as spike interest in the programme).

Hiscox’s Cyber live campaign

In order to raise awareness of the threat cyber-attacks have on small business, Hiscox launched an OOH campaign in February to highlight how many attacks take place at any one time.

Hiscox set up a number of ‘honeypot’ servers – the kind typically used by SME’s. As real-time attacks were detected, red dots lit up on digital screens (in locations ranging from London’s Canary Wharf to roadside screens in Glasgow), alongside a counter showing the final tally from that day.

As well as making consumers aware of the threat, Hiscox also fulfilled a wider aim of positioning itself as the go-to insurance brand for small businesses, cleverly utilising the real-time element to grab the attention of consumers.

Netflix’s bus shelter

Netflix gave passers-by in West Hollywood a fright with its OOH campaign for new sci-fi series, Altered Carbon. The premise of the show is that a person’s mind can be transferred into a new body known as a ‘sleeve’, which essentially allows them to live forever.

The ad, installed in a bus stop, features a so-called ‘sleeve’, which resembles a plastic-wrapped, nude mannequin.

While the sight certainly gave people a fright, the fact that it appeared to be breathing undoubtedly made it all the creepier.

Netflix’s stunt certainly created a splash, generating viral attention on both social and local news. Interestingly, some also called out Netflix for taking things too far, labelling it a publicity stunt in poor taste.

However, with people reportedly saying that they’d check out the show on the back of seeing the ad – it undoubtedly achieved its aim of generating a buzz.

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