Outdoor Media Association: COVID-19 an opportunity to rethink branding

By Jenni Gilbert | 26 March 2020

Charmaine Moldrich, CEO of the Outdoor Media Association (OMA), the peak body for the out of home (OOH) advertising in Australia, released this statement:

Having dedicated the last 10 years of my life to the business of out of home advertising, it seems somewhat counterproductive to recommend that people stay home. Yet this is the firm advice of our government and medical professionals worldwide. We are in uncharted territory.

COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives in ways that we could not even begin to imagine. While our team at the OMA is yearning for a crystal ball, the best we can do is collate the data, process the information, and work to provide relevant advice to our members and the advertising industry.

In the short-term, we are feeling the impact of marketing budgets put on hold, and we know that short-term performance goals will not be reached. But there is hope. By now you would have read the articles proclaiming that China’s ad market is rebounding and no doubt you are looking for tips on how to get there faster—as in right now!

And we will get there. But let’s focus on the weeks ahead and borrow from some of the lessons learned in other moments when the world was in crisis.Here are some of the ways that outdoor advertising remains relevant in the "stay at home" world.

Education: the current government campaign encouraging social distancing and handwashing is essential to provide clear messaging to the public and establish the new norm for the short-term.

Trust and normalcy: Maintaining a sense of normalcy for people when they are out and about is as important now as ever before. Outdoor advertising is part of our cityscapes, and our lives. While travel has changed, people are still out and about, including those people working on the frontlines of fighting COVID.

Creative opportunities: Telstra announced last week that they are continuing their ad spend but have changed their messaging to now incorporate helping people. The new world of COVID offers an opportunity to rethink what your brand means to people, not to mention a great way to live your brand values, to show that your brand values are more than rhetoric.

While I cannot predict the future, I do know that OMA members are dedicated as they always have been on finding solutions for brands.

We are a media channel that is very adaptable, we can broadcast, we can narrowcast, we are flexible. Now is not the time to look for superficial wins and bargain basement media. Now is the time to build demand and brands.

Now is the time for leaders to step up. It is in this moment of crisis that we need to act in all our best interest so that we get through this in one piece together.

COVID will pass and we will all be out and about again. Don’t hide your brand, show off its great values and people will remember that your brand stuck by them, your partners will remember that you weren’t out bargain hunting, your customers will remember that your brand was there in the time of COVID-19 showing leadership.


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