news from the intersection of branding & technology

What is the easiest way to build a brand?

In Apple, brand-building, Disney on August 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

By Robert Liljenwall
Outdoor bulletins (nee Billboards) are one of the surest and fastest ways to build brand awareness in any market – especially in Southern California where it’s the Billboard Capital of the World – with millions of cars (and consumers) on the road practically every minute of every day who pass by these Advertising Wonders.  You can build brand awareness quickly and cheaply in Southern California – with its 28 million residents – by purchasing strategically positioned large, outdoor bulletins on key freeways like the 405, 110, 5, 210 and 60 in the Los Angeles region.

They aren’t cheap per board – some running over $45,000 per site, per month – but the CPM is relatively cheap – in the pennies/M – compared to television.  And you can get complete coverage within a short time frame (like 30 days) of practically 100% of the market.

Everyone knows that you never walk in California – you drive, whether it’s for lunch 60 miles away or to go to the corner super market just steps from your home.  Californians are so lazy and auto-dependent; they love to soak up the latest billboards just to keep their minds awake while in hour-long traffic jams on the not-so-efficient freeways.  Of course, you know that you cannot put more than seven words on a billboard and have it understood, right?  But there are more agencies than not  and dim-witted clients who just love to jam just about everything including the kitchen sink into the 18×48 billboards – Look at all that empty space? Of course, at 80 miles an hour, you can probably just read three or four words.

Notable brand marketers who know their outdoor stuff – Apple (who else?), Anheuser Busch,  Toyota, Audi, Coca Cola, Heineken, Hollywood studios….they are pros at putting up eye-catching ads with not a lot of copy – they just want to sell the brand.  Outdoor advertising is a brand-building medium that remains hugely popular with advertisers.  It’s cheap, efficient, and proven to be remembered with consumers.

The latest technology, of course, is four-color process, large vinyl printed sheets that stretch across the outdoor boards.  Long gone are the famous billboard artists who use to hand paint all the artwork – including the photo-like artwork that was an “art” by itself.  I remember when we did the Disney characters on our billboards in the 1960s and 1970s….it was all original art from our style-guides given to these very talented artists.  They loved working on the Disney characters because they admired the art and creativity.

Today, this art has all been replaced by Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.  It’s mechanical but efficient and spot-on accurate.  I love the simplicity of the Apple billboards – no copy, just the outline of a dancer with the iPod in their ears.  Clean and simple.

This brings me up to the attached artwork (below) – I was speaking in Mexico City this week (August 15) for Diffusion Paramerica – who is one of Mexico’s largest billboard companies – and they surprised me with place five billboards around Mexico City with my photo and subject matter on it – and also had five taxi cabs with my mug on it, too.  Surprised?  I think so.  It’s a first for me.  –  RJL

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