Marketing Briefing: Why agency execs believe there will be more faux OOH in 2024

This Marketing Briefing covers the latest in marketing for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

Faux out-of-home advertising made headlines this year as major marketers like L’Oreal-owned Maybelline as well as fashion brand Jacquemus, among others, worked with artists to create surreal out-of-home marketing that would stand out in real life and virally on social media.

It’s likely just the beginning, according to agency execs, who say that while it’s taken longer than expected to mix elements of out-of-home with digital art, the attention this year has marketers much more attuned to these kind of activations than they have been in the past.

“We’re pitching as much of it as we had last year but advertisers are more open to it,” said Jasmine Presson, chief strategy officer at Mediaplus Group. “With constrained budgets, they’re more open to thinking about how to be scrappier and earn impressions vs. just buy impressions.”

It helps that major brands like the aforementioned Maybelline and Jacquemus are making strides in the space and working with digital artists and agencies to create something that will stop people in their tracks or be shared on social media for how strange it may be. “Most brands are not early adopters so seeing early brands who are scrappy or big brands with big budgets investing helps marketers see enough to proven that it’s something worth considering,” added Presson.

Maybelline’s faux OOH stunt featured the brand’s mascara on the London tube. As a train seemingly left the station, fake eyelashes on said train would meet a mascara wand and get a fresh coat. Obviously, the brand didn’t actually do this but worked with digital artists to create the effect. That’s just one example of the way brands are thinking about the effort.

Rogier Vijverberg, chief creative officer at global agency SuperHeroes, believes the medium has a lot of “stopping power” to draw consumer attention as well as the attention of marketers. That’s why Vijverberg has founded Jimmy, a collective of digital street artists, to work with brands and serve the burgeoning ad vehicle. Earlier this fall, the collective worked with Fenty and Puma to debut new shows with CGI soccer balls in real locations like the High Line in New York City.

“It’s a super young category,” said Vijverberg, adding that while fashion and lifestyle brands have been first movers, he has also seen interest from entertainment and consumer goods brands. As marketers focus on creating “captivating social content” which can be a challenge, the appeal of something like faux OOH with high engagement it has become more appealing.

And while the connection of phone screens to out-of-home has long been expected but taken slower to materialize than marketers and agency execs expected, that well may be changing.

“In advertising there has always been technology,” said Kaleeta McDade, chief experience design officer at VMLY&R. “When TV came along, the print people scoffed and said, ‘That’s not true creativity.’ When social came around, the TV people said, ‘That’s not true creativity.’ Technology has always been our creative medium. It will evolve how we create, and who creates.”

McDade continued: “But like anything, technology needs a language. When film was new, creatives developed panning and zooming as a new language for storytelling. When digital websites came out, they used magazine column structure for the design. We tell our stories in a new language, and we need teams that are conversant in story and technology working together to truly push the boundaries. Technology is no longer in services of creativity; it is in partnership.”

That language – visual and otherwise – is still being defined in real time. Per Vijverberg, the name faux OOH can be a challenge as it connects the medium firmly to OOH. But what about when there’s no billboard connection? “We’re looking at other names for the category like CGI ads, for instance,” he said. “We’ve started to call it digital street art. We feel that honors the artistic side.”

“The emergence of CGI OOH, Digital Street Art, or other yet-to-be coined term is an exciting development, not only as a way for brands to reach consumers in a revolutionary realm, but also elevate artists of other mediums,” said Ariel Blackman, director of the international Andy Awards. “There’s no doubt we will continue to see more collaborations.”

3 Questions with Russell Brodmerkle, CMO of flexible lease apartment company Landing

How has the role of CMO changed within recent years and how does that impact your new role?

Over the last 10 years, we’ve gone through this huge fundamental shift of how marketing is done – a lot more growth-focused and performance-focused than ever before, especially in the last year as budgets have gotten tighter [and] funding has gotten harder to get as VCs are not necessarily putting as much investment into companies as they have been historically in the last 10 years. With that, we have to be really strategic and meticulous with how we use that budget. It has to be data driven. We can’t come in with a $100 million campaign and not be able to track that. We’re much more focused on strategically growing specific markets. We would love to grow the entire country. But there’s specific markets that we can get a lot more value from compared to others.

At the same time, the social media landscape has changed. How are you managing that?

Our channel distribution has really changed over the last several years too. If you look at channels like Google and Facebook, those were primarily the main levers in the early period of 2012, 2013. A lot of that has now shifted to be more toward channels like TikTok. People are using Snapchat. Influencers are bigger than ever before, that are telling your brand story. We’re really trying to tap into these other audiences and other channels to be able to get our message out there. We’re really trying to leverage our members to be able to tell our story. Rather than everything just come directly from the brand, there’s a much more powerful message with someone that’s using your product, that’s experienced a month or longer into one of your units. 

How do you track and measure effectively at a time when data privacy and targeting is curtailed?

There are more limitations in the marketplace than ever before. But I think that’s actually a really good thing for users to have better privacy and know where their data is ending up. Although ATT is much more (anonymous) than ever before, you still have to understand, at a campaign level, what is the actual value that you’re driving from the campaign. Although you might not be able to go down to a specific IDFA to a user level, you’re still able to see how many users did I drive with this campaign, what was the type of creative they interacted with. So there’s much more proxy decisions than ever before. But overall, we are still able to understand the total impact. 

What we’re trying to do is much more media mix modeling and match market. For example, if we have two markets that are very similar in terms of performance, we might run one channel on one market and then leave the other market totally off for a period of time and try to understand what is the true value of what this new channel is driving. — Kimeko McCoy

By the numbers

Earlier this year, Omnicom’s The Marketing Arm introduced its inaugural Cultural Resonance Score (CRS), a comprehensive metric assessing the resonance of brands within different demographic segments. The Marketing Arm (TMA) recently used the metric cultural analysis to explore a noteworthy phenomenon: Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship and the resulting implications for the NFL. — Julian Cannon

  • NFL resonance among women 25-35 has improved 15%
  • Swift’s resonance among men 35-45 has grown nearly 30%
  • Brands with the highest cultural resonance scores grew 25% more than their competitors last year

Quote of the week

“Unlike when it was called Twitter, the platform no longer offers advertisers anything that they can’t find elsewhere in today’s advertising marketplace.”

— Lou Paskalis, CEO and founder of AJL Advisory, on the mounting brand safety concerns that deter brands from X.

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