Creatives Rate the Great Outdoors

SAN FRANCISCO Translating great concepts into effective outdoor campaigns was the theme of the morning session at Adweek‘s Creative Seminar here on Tuesday.

Timothy Cory, senior creative director at J. Walter Thompson in Detroit, discussed techniques for brainstorming, while Sean Robertson, chief creative director at Viacom Outdoor in New York, and Rick Robinson, creative director at MacDonald Media in New York, led a tour of the “urban gallery” of outdoor advertising.

Cory, who has written a book about brainstorming, discussed 10 key ways to come up with new ideas while working on a campaign. These ranged from making a collage of pictures from magazines that are relevant to the product, to looking at the product and writing down everything you notice about it.

Other ways of brainstorming include role playing as the client or the consumer considering buying the product, and reaching back and using experiences in your own life that are relevant to the product for which you’re creating an ad campaign, he said.

“Dare mighty things,” urged Cory, quoting Theodore Roosevelt.

During their presentation, Robertson and Robinson showed a variety of humorous, eye-catching and just plain bad billboards to show how much outdoor advertising surrounds us and what creatives need to do to stand out in a visual landscape.

“It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,” Robinson said, using Duke Ellington’s lyrics to explain that even if a billboard has a headline, interesting visual and tagline, it still needs something extra to make it a great ad.

Efforts such as Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s BMW Mini Cooper billboards and TBWA\Chiat\Day’s “Think different” outdoor work for Apple succeed because their unique approaches capture people’s attention and imagination, he said.

Robinson urged creatives to look at the media plan for the campaign they were creating to make sure their idea was appropriate for a billboard. “You can’t shoot something for print and convert it to outdoor,” he said.

Creativity is important to outdoor advertising, according to Robinson, because in a changing advertising landscape, outdoor is here to stay.

“What was one of the first mass media in the world is now one of the last,” he said.