BACK TO BASICS: Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising is one of the most popular routes for brand exposure in advertising for several reasons. When it comes to cost-per-exposure, outdoor ads can be more cost effective than most options, including internet advertising and direct mail. This is due to the high volumes of traffic exposed to your ad every day. With eye-catching designs and catchphrases, the immediate first impression of your brand will be memorable and encourage impulse buying decisions from your audience. The tricky part is what to say and how to say it. Passersby have about 10 seconds to see your ad, read your ad, and process your ad, so keep it brief.

Luckily, there are rules to live-by for effective outdoor campaigns—two notable ones being: “seven words or less on a billboard” (the rule itself has seven words, btw), and “no web addresses or phone numbers on a billboard”. Creating a powerful marketing message with seven words or less is tough, but remember, 10 seconds. And you don’t want to involve URLs and telephone numbers for obvious reasons, like, so you don’t kill someone.

So when Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business asked for help expanding into the Houston market, we followed the rules. Then we broke them.

The challenge was to inform the audience that Tulane offers a weekend MBA program at the Galleria in Houston, explain that they will receive a MBA or a Master of Finance for their trouble, and then point them to the Tulane website for more information. That’s a lot of information for seven words. Unless… we let the web address give the most important information. Why can’t a web address inform you even before you go online? And so we did. The result was a clean billboard that was on brand and used just seven words including the URL. (Editors note: please don’t blame us for the snipe. You can’t always control clients.)


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