The stars are starting to align for an incredible media moment in May. As we navigate a cost-of-living crisis, we're also looking to hold on to experiences that are close to our hearts. And with Royal celebrations, long weekends, and Eurovision mania all happening at once, it's the perfect time for brands to make their mark. But where should they focus their advertising efforts?
By Yoni Ross, Account Director
The media industry has seen its fair share of false dawns in recent years. During the pandemic for instance, we saw some exaggerated predictions around consumer behaviour that appear to have been a tad dramatic. That said, anticipating and acknowledging behavioural changes are a crucial phenomenon in our industry. They signify that brands and agencies are doing exactly what they should be doing; striving to stay ahead of the curve and spotting opportunities that competitors might neglect. This allows brands to benefit from creative associations, achieve extra share of voice in relevant contexts, and as Byron Sharp advocates in ‘How Brands Grow’, access that all important mental availability that might impact future purchase decisions towards your brand.
To run the risk of signalling my own version of a false dawn, the entire month of May is one of those upcoming media moments where the stars begin to align. As consumers look to strike a balance between navigating a cost of living crisis whilst protecting experiences they hold dear; we have Royal celebrations, long weekends, and Eurovision mania sweeping the nation. It won’t surprise you that I think one media channel is best placed to give brands the platform to make the most of the opportunity…Out of Home (OOH). Shock! But there’s good reason for it.
In a typical year, May boasts several significant events that increase social interaction and time spent OOH. Firstly, there’s the familiar two bank holiday weekends. According to Google Trends, search activity through April -May trump any other bank holiday period as Brits look for inspiration on things to do over the multiple days off. This has a big knock-on effect on retail spend and shopping behaviour too. According to Global Data, 2022 saw a combined retail spend of £135m in May, up 31% over the last 4 years.
Kinetics’ Alfresco Life research suggests that over half of all adults are planning a big day trip to the UK countryside and 44% are planning a day trip to a UK city. All of this is good news for Roadside and Transport OOH environments. It also means that Malls and Supermarket environments will see footfall increase with consumers equipping themselves with essentials and desirables ahead of their trips.
When you consider that this year, we’re also casually throwing in an extra bank holiday weekend for the King’s Coronation and welcoming the musical powerhouse that is the Eurovision Song Contest, both on two separate weekends, May is set to be quite chaotic on our little island. These are mammoth events with world-wide, international allure. History tells us that they will drive an enormous injection of cash into the economy and opportunity for brands to capitalise on the influx.
On Saturday 6th May, the world will be watching on as the symbolic Coronation ceremony takes place, during which King Charles will be crowned. Floods of people are expected to travel from far and wide to witness this historic occasion first-hand. Consultancy firm, Brand Finance, suggest the Coronation is expected to drive an extra £1bn into the UK economy. They also analysed the effect of the 4-day Queens Jubilee weekend in 2022, when the UK economy saw a boost of +£6.73bn. The evidence suggests the country will again see street party mania return with OOH exposure benefitting, not only from royal celebrations but the same bank holiday weekend patterns we observe throughout the month.
There is also palpable excitement fizzing around the Eurovision song contest which is returning to UK shores for the first time since 1998. Liverpool is taking the torch for 2023 and there’s clear evidence of the anticipation building. Almost immediately after the date announcement, 99% of hotels on Booking.com had sold out in Liverpool city centre for the weekend. When tickets for the event became available, they sold out in 90 minutes and the grand final sold out in just 36 minutes. With the backdrop of the war in Ukraine heavily linked to this year’s showpiece event, and powerfully demonstrated by the slogan “United by Music”, there’s added interest from across the globe on how the organisers navigate the sensitivities. From an advertiser’s perspective, that only adds to the prospect of increased attention. The Department for Culture suggest that the event is expected to boost the Liverpool economy by £30m with a halo effect on Tourism for other cities across the UK highly likely.
Unbelievably, it doesn’t end there! May naturally brings an upturn in weather, the crescendo of an exceptionally tight Premier League football season at both ends of the table, and how can we forget wrapping up the month with National BBQ week for good measure?
The effect that a culmination of these occasions in quick succession will have on OOH media exposure is clear to see. More people, more travelling, more activities, more celebrations, more optimism, more reasons to be out of home, and more moments for brands to engage with receptive consumers in the great outdoors. OOH’s superpower has always been Reach. The latest IPA Commercial Media Landscape Report reveals that 95% of all adults spend an average of over two hours per day in OOH environments. Industry investment into Digital OOH (DOOH) has only made this more conducive to reactive and relevant messaging at scale. As Lindsay Rapacchi, Research & Insights Director at Clear Channel highlights in his article (https://the-media-leader.com/how-ooh-offers-reach-maximisation/), with Clear Channel alone, ‘brands can access just under a third of those 14,000 digital screens available in the UK OOH industry and reach 80% of the 83% of UK adults that see DOOH every week.’
Leveraging these popular May moments that everyone will be experiencing out in the real world is a clever way for brands to reach new audiences and gain extra attention. Piggybacking on a big event with OOH can put you in a trusted spotlight, build consumer affinity, and ultimately drive purchase consideration. The Moments of Truth, a cross-industry research collaboration between Clear Channel, JCDecaux, and Posterscope, proves how the use of contextually relevant messaging in DOOH will increase its effectiveness by an average +17%. Clear Channel’s own research also reveals the positive impact of reactive advertising (https://view.ceros.com/clear-channel/piggyback-marketing/p/1).
Look at the superb examples pictured here as inspiration on how to win with moments and DOOH. From the likes of The Post Office responding to an unprecedented social media outage, Schweppes royally celebrating the Queens Platinum Jubilee, or KFC exploiting the demise of the Truss administration.
I’m not suggesting any brand haphazardly align their communications to every cultural event in May. It’s essential to remain authentic to your brand, tone of voice, and target audience. For some, a loose-lipped quip displayed in public around a royal celebration hits the brief. For others it might not fit. Importantly, what all brands can do in May is make the most of the increased, positive, and engaged OOH audiences that we are likely to see across the month.
A false dawn? I’d argue that there is no better place for brands than OOH in May.
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