Fast 5 with Kate Silver – General Manager Leo Burnett Melbourne

Kate Silver

From billboards to bus shelters, shopping centres to offices; Out of Home offers countless creative possibilities for Advertisers. But as the industry continues to innovate and digitise, will our approach to creative change with it? We spoke to one of Australia’s creative industry experts, Kate Silver from Leo Burnett Melbourne, to get her thoughts on the future of Out of Home here in Australia and what we can expect from brands (and their campaigns) in 2022.

As the Out of Home industry continues to digitise, do you see the creative approach adapting and if so, how?

The digitisation of Out of Home has massively expanded the parameters of what’s possible in the channel. We used to use it more as a brand or product reminder, but now, Out of Home can feasibly operate at both spectrums of the funnel – awareness, right through to data capture and shoppable ads. I don’t think we’ve yet fully realised the potential, mainly because the network of cloud-enabled units isn’t fully there, but once we have a critical mass, I can see more brands create some really innovative and creative solutions to engage consumers in new and different ways.

We have seen a lot of purpose-led and localised messaging in creative this year. What trends can we can expect to see in 2022?

100% we’ll see more purpose-led creative, even into 2022. COVID has disrupted so much of our lives that a lot of brands, whether they’re prospering or even if they’re struggling, need to re-establish why they exist, and more importantly the role they can play in this very different world. If brands aren’t thinking about this, I’d be concerned. People’s lives have fundamentally shifted, so brands and marketers can’t expect that things will just bounce back to how it was.

I also think we’ll see even more brands take greater action on bigger societal issues like sustainability, diversity and inclusion. It’s been fascinating to watch brands, and some pretty conservative ones at that, put themselves out there to support things like the vaccination push. I get that vaccination is ultimately good for business so shouldn’t come as any great surprise, but I suspect this foray might embolden more brands to be more vocal and active in their support.

From a creative point of view, what do you believe are the key benefits that Out of Home provides?

Visibility and impact for sure. But I’m (naturally!) a big believer that the creative has to be amazing to be truly memorable – just because it’s big, doesn’t make it awesome! We’ve all seen those billboards with headlines too long, logos too small or ideas that require you to see the film to make sense. I can definitely now appreciate the fine art of creating a great piece of OOH creative – it’s not always easy.

I also think OOH can signal a confident, self-assured brand. There’s something so brutally simple about OOH that brands have to really stand by what they’re saying, because there’s nowhere to hide. I know this sounds a bit simplistic, but I think the best brands who have had great success with the format – brands like Heineken, The Economist, have always used OOH with such confidence that it’s really helped them have a strong and distinctive tone of voice.

Do you have any examples of OOH creative for clients that you are most proud of?

Yes! In fact, it was the first OOH campaign I’d ever worked on – we were rolling out Pedigree’s 2005 ‘We’re for dogs’ brand campaign. We bought a bunch of large format sites and the creative was stunning: three simple words – ‘we’re for dogs’ with a logo and a giant dog peering over the top. I’m a dog person, so it was my dream job, but the simplicity and the art direction were stunning.

For HBF, we recently (pre-COVID) took over large shopping malls like Chadstone to support a digital ‘quokka selfie’ we’d created at the brand’s kiosk. We could have just plastered the same message everywhere directing people to get a selfie, but instead, we wanted to do something far more disruptive and fun. Our idea was that the quokkas had taken over the mall. To fit in with Chadstone’s high-end environment, we created faux fashion ads that the quokkas photo-bombed, we took over sliding doors, created digital panels where the quokkas complimented people, inviting them to get a selfie, we created way-finding pieces to help customers find the kiosk. It was a highly impactful and pretty immersive brand experience.

Generally speaking, do you believe that Out of Home is being used as effectively as it can be by most clients and agencies? If not, what advice do you have to make the most out of the channel?

I’d say the use and potential of OOH isn’t quite in sync, yet. For most brands and campaigns, OOH is still just an effective way to drive awareness and remind. But with some of the exciting technology available, the potential to create some really amazing and immersive brand experiences is pretty exciting. I love the campaign Leo Burnett Sydney did a few years ago turning outdoor sites into powershare stations using the same technology as the new Galaxy model so that people could charge their phones, wirelessly. When they could have just created an ad talking about the functionality, they invited people to experience it for themselves.

My advice would be to engage with the media partners. A lot of the time, the technology will exist to fulfil an idea, but they need brands and agencies to really make it work. Use their expertise and partner them up with the creative and technology teams to create ideas and solutions that push the boundaries. If there’s one thing the world needs, it’s more creativity.

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