Who says outdoor advertising needs to be relegated to billboards or bus shelters?

Principal Consultant , David Allison Inc.
  • Sep. 8, 2010

Everyone is online. From your laptop to your smartphone to interactive billboards, the cyber world is ever-present. But even in this everyone-online-all-of-the-time world, outdoor advertising – or “Out of Home” (OOH) media as those in the know prefer to call it now – is incredibly powerful when it comes to building awareness.

Ipsos-Reid studies show that it is still one of the best ways to build awareness of an offering. Of course immediately after the aforementioned awareness has been built, the newly aware scuttle off to a computer or smartphone to find out more. So, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all, but it can deliver a big leg-up to a new launch or offer trying to attract some attention.

OOH is likely one of the very first advertising mediums ever invented. The first time someone scrawled an arrow on a rock pointing to a good place to camp or fish, they set the stage for Pattison to make millions. And as with all sectors of the mainstream media establishment, OOH is rethinking itself. It has to. Those big giant billboards and bus boards and transit shelters and all those other old-world message methods produce a lot of waste, and take up a lot of precious land, and can piss some people off by cluttering up the viewscape. While billions of brain cells are being focused on finding better ways to be a newspaper or a radio station or a magazine, the notion of reinventing OOH has been relatively under-explored.

Five-year-old, Vancouver-based Vision Media Co. is one OOH advertising company that is doing some very cool stuff.

The boys behind Vision Media Co. realized that traditional out of home advertising wasn’t working the way it used to, and that many businesses were missing their target audience by sticking to the old way of doing things. And they recognized that more and more consumers saw billboards, vinyls, inks, etc., etc. – basically, all traditional advertising tools – as wasteful.

An off-the-cuff, guerilla-style sustainable advertising company with innovative, eye-catching concepts emerged.

They are doing things like washing the streets with stencils bearing messages; who can be upset with someone washing the street? They illuminate messages or videos onto the sides of buildings using mobile projection technology; it’s billboards without the boards or the boredom. They are printing messages on biodegradable coffee sleeves, helping clients to get the word out and reducing landfill created by our daily americanos-to-go.

And it isn’t outrageously overpriced. A streetwash ad campaign that runs 12 to 30 ads (which usually last three weeks to 2 months, depending on the location) will run you around $140 per ad.

In a weekend, over 50 to 75 streetwash ads can be dotted around the city, creating instant buzz about your message as passers-by walk over it. My company used these streetwash ads to promote The Block, a community of 32 urban townhomes near Vancouver’s Main Street developed by ParkLane Homes. It got people talking, and helped get people streaming through the sales centre.

To top it off, the company poignantly markets itself as a business that carries out “sustainable advertising for a greener tomorrow” – something that definitely resonates with businesses and consumers alike here on the West Coast.

Combine the sheer volume of people that are going to see your campaign with the feel-good factor of using sustainable advertising, and I’d hazard a guess that these guys have developed something that’s going to stick around for a while longer. I, for one, would like to see what other concepts they’ve got tucked up their biodegradable, illuminated sleeves.



David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting…

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David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting…

Read more




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