OOH Advertising's Role in Society Goes Beyond Selling Products

By Carly Zipp Outfront Media Archives

In a time when negative headlines seem to dominate the news cycle, I am more than happy to welcome this year's World Kindness Day (Nov. 13), which never fails to inspire us to come together and make positive change across the globe.  The good news is that kindness is contagious, according to studies from Stanford University.  A researcher behind this study told the Scientific American, "We find that people imitate not only the particulars of positive actions, but also the spirit underlying them.  This implies that kindness itself is contagious, and that it can cascade across people, taking on new forms along the way."

I've been thinking about the ways to incorporate social good in my work more and more, and how to do my part to help spread kindness.  In addition to being an ideal platform to advertise on, out-of-home is a powerful tool to get an important social message across.  As an industry, OOH helps unify the public, bringing awareness to worthwhile causes.  It's the beauty of having a one-to-many ad medium rather than one-to-one (like most online/digital channels).

As a society we find strength in unity.  OOH advertising is one of the best platforms available to deliver messagea to a mass audience from all walks of life.  Because of this, billboards and transit displays can be used as a vehicle to educate and inform the general public in times of tragedy and moments with cultural significance.  Outfront Media and other outdoor vendors have made it a priority to use their advertising properties in these moments to help advocate for good causes and encourage the public to get involved in initiatives for social change.

Here are examples of some of my favorite OOH advertising that helped raise awareness for worthwhile causes.

Designed by Outfront Studios, this simple message -- "Live with <3 (love)" -- went up on billboards across the country last week in response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the passing of cultural icon Tom Petty, the disaster in Puerto Rico and more.  It's a reminder to all that we must have compassion and empathy to lead a fulfilling life and encourages everyone to do their part in our world.

During Hurricane Irma, it was important to keep the people of Florida informed of the scale of the incoming hurricane in different parts of the region. Outfront Media partnered with news organizations to deliver important notifications and help update the public so that the government could help lead evacuation efforts.

Outfront Studios developed a billboard series that aimed to promote the message of tolerance and unity.  The billboards included individuals' faces covered by organs.  The faces were covered to emphasize that it's what's on the inside that matters most, and the organs varied in size to highlight differences between each person.

Outfront Media participated in the Vote to Count campaign (pictured at top) with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), donating billboard real estate which listed the labels Right, Left, Gay, Straight, Black, White and noted, "Voter. Only one label counts."  These billboards called for people to come together, despite differences, to carry out our civic duties of voting in our democratic system.

Not only does the OOH media platform succeed in uniting the platform, it also helps raise awareness for important causes and rallies the community to participate.  We are proud to work with impactful organizations by donating our creative services and advertising real estate to help spread the word to people both locally and nationally.  A few organizations we work with include Red Nose Day and Operation Toy Soldier to help garner attention and support for their initiatives.

As a whole, we encourage the OOH advertising industry to continue to leverage our assets for social good initiatives and think of ways that we can help leave a positive impact on our communities.  Advertising isn't always about selling something.  In reality, many brands use OOH advertising to help people think about a topic, make them smile with a comical message, or guide them to appreciate the beauty in visual art and creative.

The Random Act of Kindness Week shows just how full of humanity our world really can be.

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