Thursday, 6:20am
30 August 2012

Billboards reloaded

design education
outdoor advertising

Judging by this digital project, reports of the death of the poster have been greatly exaggerated.

For four weeks this summer, roadside advertising specialists Outdoor Plus gave a small group of participants from Central Saint Martins the chance to reach an audience of millions, writes Alex Cameron.

A relative newcomer to the roadside advertising landscape, Outdoor Plus turned its attention to the growth and potential of large format digital advertising. 

Totem piece by audience participant Sam Dunn is displayed on the Outdoor Plus billboard, 14 July 2012.
Top: Billboard image by Rose Robson.

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As a means of testing digital advertising’s potential for ‘improved audience engagement’, Outdoor Plus enlisted fashion designer Aimee McWilliams, industrial designer Marco Monterzino and fine artist Rose Robson from late June to early July 2012. The postgraduate students, along with tutor Christian Küsters, had the use of four large-format digital sites in central London to record the objects and images that inspire their work.

The aim of the project, titled ‘Getinframe’, was to challenge designers to re-think outdoor advertising in a digital context in order to engage an audience in new ways.

Marco Monterzino
Below right: Aimee McWilliams

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While the project artwork was initially biographical, with a ‘heroic’ photographic aesthetic, abstract and closely cropped, it stood apart from much of the conservative corporate fare on the high street.

The public was prompted to engage with the project through instant, reactive modes of communication (namely Twitter, Facebook and by direct upload). People could submit their own artwork that was then uploaded to  the digital sites – an unexpected and intriguing departure from most outdoor advertising.

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The campaign’s dynamic flexible design approach provided a basis for experiment. As noted on the ‘Getinframe’ website: ‘The potential of the relationship between outdoor digital billboards and social media has not yet been fully realised, and the #getinframe project aims to explore the possibilities … as more than a one-way communication board.’

Christian Küsters.

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Outdoor Plus and the ‘Getinframe’ project challenged the public to re-engage with a familiar medium in its new digital form. It has the best of the poster – a form still loved by designers – in its immediacy and directness, but with the added advantage of interactivity. ‘Getinframe’ calls on designers to reconsider outdoor advertising: digitisation might just breathe new life into the form of the poster.

More about the ‘getinframe’ project at Getinframe.com.

See also: ‘Tinkering with the form: Do you want a movie poster or a “designer poster”?’, also by Alex Cameron.

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