ON ALERT: Matching Outdoor Advertising to Outdoor Sensibilities

Are you the same person indoors and outdoors? Not entirely, suggests a study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta to determine how (and why) people react to outdoor advertising. ‘When people are out in the world, their persona and roles change,’ says a summary of the findings. ‘They protect themselves, either literally by putting on clothes, putting on makeup, or figuratively by assuming attitudes and postures. Their senses are more alert; vision, hearing, touch, smell. . . . People become more anonymous. They are more responsive to crowd psychology, responding to what other people are doing. . . . At the same time, people also daydream when traveling (be it for work or for leisure) to escape from boredom or stress. They need stimulation to divert, entertain, occupy them.’ All that being the case, the kinds of advertising that might reach them within the cocoon of the home aren’t necessarily as effective in the outside world – and vice versa. That’s one reason why posters incorporating ‘intrigue’ or humor score especially well (as the chart, assembled by Gannett Outdoor Group, indicates).
‘People in their ‘alert’ state easily absorb stimulating, entertaining material. People in an ‘escapist’ mode may use posters as a form of diversion to induce a dreamlike state in which to retreat from reality.’ So, all those people you see on the street who look like they’re in a daze actually are in a daze – thanks in part to advertising.
Mean Ad Recall
Intrigue 35.3%
Humor 35.0%
Aesthetic/Repetitive 33.7%
Literal 32.2%
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)