Localizing out-of-home ads


I’ve been watching a great new series on A&E called The Beast. It stars Patrick Swayze as a Chicago FBI agent who orchestrates rather creative undercover missions to nab the bad guys. More than any other TV series I’ve seen, The Beast takes advantage of downtown Chicago as a superb filming venue. It’s hard to watch ten minutes of the show without recognizing a location that I walk by on a regular basis.

With all this in mind, I was quick to notice a bus shelter ad promoting the series. It had a big picture of Swayze and a clever tagline, along with a smaller image of the Sears Tower in the background. But aside from that little bit of the skyline, there was no mention that the show takes place in Chicago. To me, this is a missed opportunity.

Out-of-home ads have the unique advantage of always being viewed in a predictable location. Whether it’s a digital sign in a restaurant or a billboard next to the highway or the bus shelter ad that I saw in front of the NBC tower, you know for certain where the viewer is going to be. It follows that you should tailor the ad to the unique attributes of that location. Simply describing The Beast as being about a “Chicago FBI agent” rather than any old FBI agent, along with smaller text saying that it’s filmed here, would probably entice a lot more Chicago viewers to give the show a try. With a little bit of thought, you can apply the same principles to any out-of-home ad, making it significantly more relevant to the local audience who will be seeing it.