JCDecaux: “You guys don’t know what’s possible with out-of-home advertising”

JCDecaux’s Sales and Partnerships Director, Ben Maher, kicked off their session at the IAB UK’s Digital Upfronts by announcing that, in 2017, it will bring 4k Ultra HD to the streets and retail environments in the UK.

And he pointed to the data the company has at its fingertips, and which enables copy and creative to be altered, in real time, according to factors such as the weather and shopping behaviours. 

Next up was Antonietta Chioccarelli, Lead of Creative Partnerships, who announced: “you guys don’t know what is possible with out of home advertising."

“You can use data to target your creative, and use tech to deliver scale, in real-time … the process sounds laborious and complex, so people give up, but nobody should give up on their ideas. 

Her call-to-action to everybody in the room, she said, was to “start creating for out-of-home instead of adapting.”

And so, in order to prove it is “more than just a billboard company”, JCDecaux then treated the audience to some of examples of today’s most creative OOH executions – such as its work with MediaCom to promote the release of Jurassic World. This involved a takeover of Waterloo station and reached 350,000 daily commuters, generating massive publicity, including over 20,000 tweets.  

Next up was Alex Matthews, JCDecaux’s Managing Director of Dynamic and former Head of Creative Technology at BBH.  

He introduced the company’s Smart Content platform and said: “We want to make it as quick, easy, and as cheap as possible … There’s so much you can do. We’re only scratching the surface at the moment.”

Finally, creative heavyweight Tim Lindsay, CEO of D&AD, led an inspirational panel debate about the awe-inspiring opportunities within the format.  

“Digital outdoor should feel like magic. It shouldn’t just feel like scanning a QR code,” urged Havas London’s creative director, L.A. Ronayne. “It doesn’t have the same resonance as it used to… but it can be spectacular.”

Decoded’s Steve Henry agreed: “The point of advertising is to stand out and be different - not to do what everyone else is doing … I’d like to see more experimentation. 

“Brands need to stand for something. They need to have opinions,” he warned. 

And Nils Leonard, of Grey London, suggested that there is a risk in obsessing about new technology rather than focusing on really ‘moving ‘people. “Programmatic has stopped us doing what we do best, which is messing with people,” he said, adding: “Nobody has become the famous outdoor brand – I don’t think they’ve worked out how powerful it could be.”

The panel also agreed that, as an industry “we’ve got terribly polite”. 

As such, they urged those present to be brave, bold, and find ways of using this fantastic medium. 

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