OOH Ad Review: National Geographic #SaveTogether

savetogether ooh ad campaign in Times square

The National Geographic Society have teamed up with The Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) to take their epic endangered animals preservation campaign into the outdoors.

A wide range of mediums are united by the hashtag #SaveTogether.

The #SaveTogether campaign kicked off with an hour-long digital billboard takeover in New York’s Times Square.

The public were encouraged to snap a selfie alongside one of a series of print posters featuring images of endangered animals, and the message, “see what we can #savetogether” and post it online with the hashtag. Selected photos were then broadcast via the digital billboard.

The backbone to the campaign is the ambitions Photo Ark project in conjunction with photographer and conservationist Joel Sartore who is photographing all endangered animals in captivity.

Visitors to the National Geographic’s Photo Ark page on their website are encouraged to find a Photo Ark poster near them and post their selfies with the campaign hashtag. A gallery of selfies is also hosted on the page.

There are a wide array of elements to this campaign:

  1. Photo Ark online gallery, book, and other materials
  2. #SaveTogether print posters featuring Photo Ark images
  3. Digital billboards displaying user generated images
  4. National Geographic webpage highlighting the campaign, motivating audience actions, and displaying user generated content
  5. User generated images circulating via sites like Instagram and Twitter
  6. Hashtag for social media distribution and unifying the various elements of the campaign
  7. Extensive YouTube video content, including a TedX talk

What’s striking when you look at this extensive list of mediums, content, and activity is the way it keeps coming back round to the OOH and Outdoor environment.

Of course animal preservation does itself speak of the outdoor environment. The Photo Ark campaign created stunning imagery, but these days photos reside mainly online.

The brilliance of the campaign came from motivating audiences to take real world actions.

The physicality of selfies taken against static billboards brings an extra dimension of dynamism to Sartore’s images.

Crucially, by motivating audience behaviour and encouraging user generated content the campaign is given a socially driven impetus, motivating high levels of brand engagement.

Also noteworthy is the way that outdoor actions are once again transformed into online, digital content via hashtags and social media posts.

It’s worth noting the direction of travel of the campaign:

Print posters > User generated content incorporating the posters > content published via social media > Curated via hashtags > republished via digital billboards

The campaign leveraged outdoor advertising mediums, both digital and print poster, and amplified their impact via social media. The campaign then returned to the outdoor environment once an elaborate chain of user motivated activity had taken place, all the while deepening engagement.

The #SaveTogether campaign is part of a general trend for social movement-style advertising campaigns with strong outdoor elements that tap into audience concerns over issues such as conservation.

We’ve written recently about the Cancer Research UK Race for Life campaign which displayed user-generated content from race participants via digital panels in London Underground’s Hello London ad network. This and the #SaveTogether campaign are great examples of how online content can be given a new lease of life in the out-of-home environment, highlighting the way these two mediums can reinforce each other.

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