How to address out of home media plans during lockdown


The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on business in general is unprecedented, and the out of home media sector is no exception.

Many OOH firms have stepped-up, devising social for good opportunities. But how should brands be addressing and adapting their planned OOH campaigns?

Amelia Stevens is Media Director at Cardiff based award-winning agency Golley Slater.

She offers guidance on the mindset brands might want to adopt regarding out of home strategies during this difficult time.

Amelia headshot

With everyone in the UK confined to their homes for the foreseeable, the outdoor population has drastically fallen. This is unfortunate, but essential if we are to beat the coronavirus outbreak.

So, what does this mean for out of home media (OOH)? And what should brands be thinking about doing if they have this on their current media schedule?

Keep calm and carry on

First, it’s important to “keep calm and carry on”, as the saying goes. Don’t make any knee jerk reactions.

We ARE all in this together, and I think we can all agree that we need to witness empathy and kindness from both businesses and people.

With OOH there’s no need to panic at all. Many providers are enabling organisations to cancel upcoming campaigns free of charge or re-plan for later in the year.

There are some areas, though, that are naturally being more affected than others on the OOH spectrum.

ad fund SMEFUND_Deansgate Manchester
Outdoor for good: Last week Ocean Outdoor launched a £10m fund for SMEs.

It’s impressive to see how the OOH media providers are digging deep into their creative reserves to use their sites as a force for good during the COVID crisis.

But let’s look more closely at what’s actually included in OOH and what’s being affected.

Most affected locations

Shopping centres and railway stations are probably some of the first that spring to mind. With retailers closed, and train services drastically reduced, the footfall is limited or non-existent.

Roadside and on-board buses and trains have also seen a steep drop in exposure as we are only in our cars to pick up essential supplies, and only key workers should be using the public transport services.

It goes without saying that bars, pubs, taxis and petrol nozzles too have all but ground to a halt.

High demand media sites

Supermarkets, however, are still very much in action for those essential shopping trips, and therefore so is the demand for advertising space.

We have seen a lot of brands, including Ikea, do their part to communicate the #StayHomeSaveLives message and utilise this time to convey their corporate social messaging to the public.

Say thanks: Brands and companies can use OOH to send messages of support to the frontline.

Our consumer brands team works directly with names such as Coca Cola and P&G, and supermarkets such as ASDA, and they understand the importance of reassuring brands at this uncertain time.

It’s important to know if you do have OOH in your media plan, with the right partner or strategy, there are other routes you can take to ensure success even if it isn’t using the channels you envisaged.

As well as looking again at your targeting for OOH, think about other consumer touch points, and tweak activations and messaging so it’s relevant for different platforms.