Brands DOOHing good in time of crisis

April 06, 2020
PaddyPower, XL Holloway Circus PaddyPower, XL Holloway Circus

From its earliest incarnation, Out-of-Home advertising has acted as a community notice board, advertising goods and services to people when they are out of their homes. So, what happens to these messages when people are forced to stay home?

Is anybody out there?

The current guidance is strict; people must only leave their home for essential shopping, medical needs and exercise once a day. However, a study by Appinio has shown that 1 in 6 people are leaving the house just as much as they usually would, and a recent article published in Research Live has suggested that an additional 79m shopping trips have been made in the past 4 weeks resulting in a £2 billion incremental spend on food and drink. This is also backed up by a YouGov survey that showed 54% of Brits went shopping over the past 2 days – be that for groceries/pharmacy or something else.

In addition to shopping trips, 64% are still going out for a walk or taking some form of exercise and so, even when following these strict guidelines there is still an out-of-home audience with over 67% of people still going out, even if it is for a significantly reduced amount of time.

Reassurance is key

So despite the lock-down there are still people out on the streets, but they are looking for reassurance.

An insight and strategy report by WGSN suggests that although “people were anxious about both health and economics prior to the coronavirus […], the crisis has accelerated these emotional states.” They go on to describe a sense of people moving into ‘survival mode’ and this in itself drives consumers ‘towards products and attributes that reflect a sense of safety and security”

Advertising during a crisis is tricky. Getting the tone right, making sure the message is not overtly pushy whilst also not seeming to profiteer are ultimately difficult factors to balance and get right. However there is also strong research to suggest that brands should not go dark, and this is the time to show up albeit in a calm, reassuring way. And in doing so consumers will be more receptive as kindness becomes a currency in its own right.

There have been some brilliant examples of how brands have turned their messaging around to take into account the mood of the nation and help alleviate their fears – Paddy Power, Nike & Heinz are all great examples. The calm tone and relevant content has helped drive the message home and demonstrated positive action and intent. These are the brands that have not gone dark, but shown up in a time of crisis and no doubt will be remembered for that.

Increase online engagement with DOOH

Whilst most of these creatives have run online, there is still a valuable audience out-of-home. This includes the 1 in 3 people that are not able to work from home, those who are choosing to exercise once a day, or out buying their shopping. These trips may not be for long, but they are frequent. So, there is an opportunity to extend those ‘positive and reassuring’ brand messages from online to DOOH, and in doing so there is a proven and positive effect on memory encoding.

Neuro-Insight & Ocean revealed that online content delivered in an out-of-home context delivered stronger levels of responses – which builds on the previous finding that respondents exposure to DOOH ad has a positive priming effect on online advertising. Taken together, this suggests that a multi-layer campaign using full motion DOOH can both amplify the effect of online content and play a vital role in continued brand building through delivering multiple peaks of memory response and emotional intensity.

Ocean are committed to working with brands who want to amplify their positive messaging on DOOH and as such there are financial incentives in place to do so. If you are interested in being involved, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

WRITTEN BY

Rachel Sutton
Head of Marketing
Ocean Outdoor

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