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The Creative Challenge

According to noted media researcher Erwin Ephron, “The ad on an OOH unit is the face of the medium. Creative becomes an active media variable. Not in terms of attention paid or engagement with, but by the message itself attracting eyes to the medium by being noticeable.”

However, creating for the OOH medium is a challenging communication task that requires the expression of a concept with clarity and austere focus. When OOH advertising is well designed, it will entertain and intrigue consumers with arresting influence.


Humor is a powerful design choice for OOH executions. Both humorous and intriguing designs can build awareness faster than mundane executions. The element of surprise can grab a viewer’s attention. Studies have shown that humor arouses the most favorable response among viewers. Humor often includes wit, an essential component for ensuring an effective response to intriguing or aesthetic designs.


Intrigue involves a viewer by using words or pictures that may not be immediately comprehensible. Intrigue will often present a puzzle and solution relationship that requires mental focus. A single, intriguing design might be used to captivate a viewer. However, a message could also be conveyed using a series of related images that involve the viewer in a saga to unfold over time.


Surprise stimulates a viewerusing unexpected or unusual design elements. A surprised viewer will do a doubletake and generally experience an emotional response once the essence of the message is understood. Sometimes the message is serious, so a powerful image with a searing headline can be an effective design choice.

The Big Idea

The OOH viewing audience is mobile. Most people travel swiftly in vehicles and walk at a brisk pace while they perform the activities of daily life. Mobility limits the potential viewing time of an OOH message to only a few seconds. Because of limited exposure time, OOH designs require a disciplined and succinct creative approach. However, high frequency is a fundamental strength of the medium, and repeated exposures will ensure that a message is absorbed and retained over time.
Less is more-- much more when creating OOH advertisements. The most effective designs focus on a single idea or concept. An advertiser should consider the most important product benefit to communicate and express that message to consumers.
OOH advertising should be a quick burst of essential information. Additional messages dilute the essence of the primary benefit and reduce the impact of the advertising. It is equally important to limit design elements. Too many elements may confuse a viewer or make them work too hard to understand the meaning of the message.
If an advertising campaign requires multiple messages, one option is to create a series of designs that feature different core ideas presented as different OOH executions.
However, some place-based OOH formats are viewed by consumers for a considerably long span of time. These advertisements are often located in places where people wait, such as airports, train stations, checkout lines, or waiting rooms. In these situations, OOH designs could include more details since there is typically more time for viewers to digest the information.

The Killer B's


Focus on a core idea. Keepoverall advertising messages and the elemnts of design simple.


Brand positioning is an important consideration and can effectively produce recall. The bottom right is a good location for out of home units with a horizontal orientation. The top half of a design the best locatio for a vertically oriented unit.


Don't be confined by the bondaries of a frame. Crop generously and extedn teh element of desgin beyond the physical restraints of an out of home unit. Extensions or other three-dimensional embellishments and enviromentla applications will enhance anoverall design by producing greater impact.

The ABC's Of Simplicity


Express the most important idea concisely.


Present dynamic or provocative messages.


Limit the number of words and pictures


The spectrum of full color, vividly and faithfully reproduced, is one of the distinct advantages when creating OOH campaigns. Designs bursting with brilliant color can evoke emotional responses that will inspire lasting impres sions and create stopping power.
It is essential that OOH designs are easy to read. Choose colors with high contrast in both hue and value. Contrasting colors are viewed well from great distances while colors with low contrast will blend together and obscure a message. In fact, research demonstrates that high color contrast can improve OOH advertising recall by 38 percent.

Text Legibility Guide

Distance In Feet Minimal REadable Text Height in Inches
100'-200' 4"-8"
200'-300' 8"-10"
300'-350' 10"-15"
350'-500' 15"-20"
500'-600' 20"-24"