Have billboards really run their course? Is there space in the media mix for street banners or only online ones? And where have we come to when the Grand Prix at MIXX goes to outdoor campaigns! There's been a lot of misguided debate lately about online versus offline: which is better and where to allocate budgets? “Say it out loud” by Señor agency is an excellent example of how the public inhabits both of those worlds and how campaigns – in order to be successful – have to successfully merge the two.
If you owned a computer with internet access at the end of last year, you probably couldn’t escape the grey-yellow posters with messages that took social media by storm. While some created, others copied. While some educated, others provoked. Made things happen and affirmed. Successfully agitated or resigned. Or just flirted. That was “Say it out loud” – the mega-contest for Outdoor Akzent, which confirmed the power of outdoor advertising spaces – if used in the right way, of course: creatively and cleverly. The result is the campaign that was announced as the best campaign of the year at the just-held MIXX.
THE POWER OF BILLBOARDS IN THE DIGITAL ERA
At Señor agency, we were placed in front of a demanding challenge: we had to show the power of outdoor ad spaces in the digital age, the flexibility of outdoor and the justification for using them for clients of wildly varying sizes and budgets. A few years ago, at the ex-agency, I worked on the Majlonke campaign, which garnered a lot of interest with its provocative approach and promoted two-sided billboard surfaces. But in this case, regardless of which theme we chose, that approach didn't seem to cut it. For that reason, we started with the premise that everyone, from just your regular person to a corporation, has something to say to the world around them; they just need an opportunity and the medium to do so. Our mission was to start an avalanche.
FIRST AND FOREMOST - AN ANNOUNCEMENT
The contest had three phases. The first phase involved announcing the contest with a series of jumbo posters which had an invite to recitoglasno.com (sayitoutloud.com), where anyone could leave a message that could end up being on one of the 150 actual jumbo posters to be placed all across Croatia. Only billboards were used for the announcement, to prove their effectiveness in spiking interest but also to test the value of billboards as an award (since people can leave their messages daily on social networks, the perceived value of billboards as an award is additional proof of the strength of this medium in the eyes of the general public).
The second stage involved people making their own posters, sharing them on social networks and inviting their friends to vote for them. Instead of imposing topics for discussion, we gave everyone an opportunity to direct public discussion in the direction that they wish. This is where the secret of the campaign's success hides. We created a dialogue or, better said, dialogues which – though they sometimes sounded like total cacophony – crystallized the topics that are of interest to the widest public. The messages people wrote ranged from humorous, touching and serious all the way to politically charged and ideologically polarizing – and they spread on social media with unbelieveable speed. Critics resented the choice of topics but I would say that the campaign only turned the mirror toward the consumers and invited them to spring to action. To resent that is equal to resenting democracy – though sometimes we really don't want to hear what everyone has to say. Besides that, this approach confirmed that outdoor advertising can be of use to everyone and that even a limited number of booked ad spaces can have a big impact. I'd like to also add a reflection here on the copywriting part of the process; while naming the project, we sacrificed some longer (though perhaps more creatively interesting) titles and decided to go for a campaign name that was practically a hashtag (#recitoglasno). It seems to me that this played an important role in the spreading and recognition of the competition.
DECIDING THE WINNERS
Choosing 150 of the best ones, 75 each, was the task of the jury (Ivan Šarić, Mile Kekin, Nik Titanik, Krešimir Prosoli, Vanja Blumenšajn and Gabriela Klarić) and the public. There were two reasons for selecting this system: the jury guaranteed the quality of the selected messages and the diversity of topics, while the votes of the public guaranteed a chance for everyone to become a winner and, most importantly, to secure the virality of the competition. At this stage, the chosen billboards were placed at locations all across Croatia and again set off a new series of shares, comments, opinions, critiques and compliments. And so the campaign that began with a jumbo billboard conquered online space and then returned to where it started – onto the jumbo billboards.
Together with a heap of diverse polarizing topics that our society is interested in, we predicted big engagement, but the project went up and above all expectations: in the three weeks the campaign lasted, the recitoglasno.com page had over 300,000 unique visits from more than 140 countries. Over 10,000 posters were created, which people voted for with nearly 1,000,000 votes. You clicked an unbelievable 7,200,000 times, and we didn't yet get a chance to add up all the comments, tweets and shares on social networks. Among interesting trivia, we highlight the call of the Živi Zid political party members to vote for their promo proposals, the lobbying of certain priests using church portals, or Twitter users from India retweeting messages of love by local pacifists.
Finally, the campaign sparked huge interest and showed the role of outdoor advertising in today's media mix. In the new mass-media surroundings their role is somewhat different, but our task as strategists and creatives is to constantly reinvent, using existing elements in new and unexpected ways. Just like it is meaningless to favor digital agencies over „classic“ ones, it is unnecessary to favor some media/solutions over others. Every objective has its tools, but only thought-through, integrated approaches can bring quality solutions. In light of that, what's interesting about this campaign is that it confirmed the opinion I had before: regardless of how much time we spend online, we can't cross off experiences from the offline world. Or at least until VR advances all the way and they sink us into a nutritious liquid, to live continuously with a VR set covering our eyes and ears. And who is to say that even in that world someone won't place virtual jumbo billboards by virtual roads.
This text was originally published by Netokracija.