The words "injured" and "billboard" have become synonymous. Seriously, how many bad designs have you seen on billboards that say, "Injured?" or "Car Wreck?" How many Out of Home ads have you seen that look like some hack snapped a dimly lit portrait shot using their iPhone 3 resulting in a poor man's 40-Year-Old Virgin poster? There are so many ads that look exactly the same for the legal industry, where the only difference is head-shots and phone numbers. We know the OOH business can do better. We must do better! Please, if you are in any way shape or form associated with the legal OOH category, please stop posting ads that fit the description listed above. Why stop? Because ads like that bring little to no value to your client, their consumer or our industry. What should you do instead? Make sure the ad doesn't suck!
Sorry, that was a bit harsh. May I suggest actually talking to your client? If they already have their "design" with their head on it, printed out on a crisp white sheet of paper ready to post, kindly take it from them, crumple it up and throw it away. I don't say this to be mean; in fact, it's quite the opposite. I say this so we can provide an actual service to our clients and be something more than a "sign-seller." Its true, there are many law firms out there and at first glance they may appear to be the exact same. How could we possibly tell them apart? It's too hard. The approach I'm suggesting is harder, but if you sit and talk to a lawyer, you'll find out they are run by completely unique, very interesting individuals that take very different approaches to the same legal practice. Taken individually, in advertising terms each of those different approaches is called a "differentiator." Without one, your client will be another "bobble-head" planted in a landscape of red, white and yellow phone numbers, screaming a message the majority of commuters are trying to ignore.
So, what would happen if we actually listened to our clients and found out what their differentiators are? We'd learn that some of them make daily calls to check in on their clients and see if they can actually send an employee to pick up groceries for them. We might learn that others have all calls directed to their cell phones because they prefer a personal approach and hate call centers. If you keep asking questions, you might even find out that some lawyers have a favorite super hero or ride motorcycles on the weekends, and in some cases, have an alter-ego that they'd love to be portrayed as!
Any of those thoughts would be a hell of a lot better than just seeing a big phone number and head-shot on a billboard or the side of a bus. When I get feedback like that from a client or a sales person I can't help but get jacked-up about designing something unique to that individual. I can't help but get excited thinking about how something different in a "vanilla industry" could potentially change the perception of an entire industry! Why on earth, knowing that there is something that helps our client stand apart from the crowd, would we ignore that and post more "blah" on the streets? If you're one of those people, please, go and sell the yellow pages for the last five minutes of what's left of your career.
Again … sorry, not sorry. I confidently take this stance because I want so much more for the industry I have grown to love, but more importantly, for the clients that depend on it. At Outfront Studios we have created some amazing campaigns that look at the legal category in a more personal, intimate way. The ads we design help consumers relate to the legal attorney that best fits their needs and we do so by not creating more of the same hack-job billboards that plague so many of our OOH markets.
It's not just about getting a pretty design up, either. These clients that have trusted us with their "babies" have gone on to renew with us year after year. They've seen the value in the campaigns we've created for them, and asked us to reformat them for other mediums, creating a unified, strong, unmistakable brand. People don't want to look at the same boring crap. If we as an industry try harder, and do our job right the first time, we can fix an industry of injured billboards.
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