Emily Snacks Outdoor Advertising on 6 Sheet

How brands have adapted their Outdoor Advertising during Coronavirus

Big brands right down to small independent businesses have been forced to rethink how best to use already paid for out-of-home advertising space during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bubble Outdoor has scoured the UK to find signs of outdoor advertising when there has been barely any audience to advertise to because of lockdown measures.

While some big brands have decided to suspend all advertising during the health crisis, we’ve found some very creative adaptions of outdoor advertising campaigns, which have generated publicity in other ways.

Here’s our pick of the best…

#1 – Emily Snacks

When realising that its very first outdoor advertising campaign in April would barely get any eyes on it, snack brand Emily had to think fast to adapt its advertising content.

The brand’s marketing team decided to use their ads to make light of their misfortune with a series of hilarious advertisements that brought a smile to the face of keyworkers and others who needed to be out and about.

Four tongue-in-cheek ads were created featuring a great use of humour, including:

  • “Our first ever poster, seen by a runner and one pigeon. Typical”
  • “Hmmm… Maybe we should have made a TV ad instead”

The snacking brand’s campaign ran for two weeks from 15 April and received plenty of coverage from the likes of PR Week and Marketing Week.

Emily Snacks Outdoor Advertising on 6 Sheet

#2 – Badoo

Unable to encourage first date rendezvous, dating app Badoo got creative with its outdoor advertising inventory with a campaign that broadcast thousands of messages from its users to NHS and frontline workers. More than 12,000 messages were shared via the iconic Piccadilly Circus digital billboard.

Commenting on the campaign, Badoo’s UK brand manager Natasha Briefel said: “We have been seeing incredible acts of kindness, love and support taking place across the country in recent weeks, which inspired us to do our bit to raise the spirits of the amazing NHS and frontline workers who are putting their lives on the line day in, day out.”

#3 – HUN Wine

In similar fashion to snack brand, Emily, HUN Wine adapted its outdoor advertising campaign with a tongue-in-cheek approach. The wine-in-a-can brand had been set to be an exclusive partner at several summer festivals in 2020.

However, with festivals across the UK cancelled, and pubs and wine bars closed, HUN was forced to adopt a different approach.

Its tongue-in-cheek campaign was run on outdoor digital billboards and posters, with copy-led imagery featuring hilarious comments, such as:

  • ‘Did you see our new advertising campaign? No, didn’t think so’
  • ‘Our advertising agency put our poster out here. They’re not our advertising agency anymore.’

HUN’s outdoor advertising campaign ran alongside an online digital campaign that offered free wine to people who have had their birthdays, weddings and anniversaries during lockdown.

#4 – The Outdoor Advertising Industry

The UK Out of Home (or outdoor advertising) industry, via trade body Outsmart, and Mother launched a nationwide digital OOH campaign – ‘Grateful Britain’ – during lockdown. The campaign is a ‘hymnal’ tribute to NHS and other keyworkers serving on the frontline to keep Britain moving during the coronavirus pandemic.

The ‘hymn’ reads:

Thank you to our croc wearin’

patient carin’

stethoscope slingin’

bin collectin’

letter postin’

prescription fillin’

shelf stackin’

lorry drivin’

loo roll deliverin’


World OOH organisation's billboard for NHS

#5 – Didsbury Gin

Didsbury Gin not only changed up its outdoor advertising campaign, but switched its entire operation, shifting from making gin to manufacturing hand sanitiser for key public services across the Greater Manchester area.

The brand’s new, Spirit of Life outdoor advertising campaign featured four different posters splashed across billboards throughout Manchester, capturing the spirit of the nation as they enjoy time with their loved ones in their own home, as well as those friends and family they can’t be with, be it through video chats, online quizzes or virtual Friday night drinks.

The campaign also had a serious message to deliver as the distinctive ‘D’ that appears on Didsbury Gin bottles is used to reiterate the government message to wash your hands, social distance, and stay at home – hopefully with a gin!

Didbury Gin's outdoor advertising campaign

The resilience of outdoor advertising

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, outdoor advertising has proven to be resilient, while showcasing its flexibility.

Hundreds of big brands and SMEs alike have switched their outdoor advertising campaigns, many in tribute to the NHS and other keyworkers or promoting government guidance in order to create positive brand alignment.

Amid the pandemic, digital outdoor advertising in particular has demonstrated its capacity to allow unlimited content and artwork changes, even right up to the last minute or while a campaign is still running, giving advertisers incredible flexibility to adjust their messaging in response to rapidly changing circumstances.

Bubble can help reposition your message.

It can be challenging to know what to do with your outdoor advertising during the coronavirus crisis, but with lockdown restrictions starting to ease, we can help you reposition your messaging and work out your road to recovery.

For an informal chat, call us on 0117 325 6755 or complete our online contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.

Stay safe, stay well.
The Bubble Outdoor Team.

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