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15/12/2020 - Views

What 2020 Has Taught Us & Our Expectations for 2021: Views from Talon’s Senior Team

A year ago, we stepped into 2020 with the promise of continued growth and transformation. Nobody could’ve predicted what 2020 would have in store for us. 

Some of our senior team reflect on a year of shifting audiences, incredible collaboration and the pushing of creative and technological boundaries in OOH. What stood out in 2020? What advice they would give themselves if they had to do it again? And what are they looking forward to in 2021? 

Stand-out Campaigns from 2020

With lockdown restrictions preventing us from living our usual day to day lives and OOH audiences declining, in the words of Managing Partner, Nick Mawditt, “The best-laid advertising plans were ripped up by many, but those who held their nerve and took advantage of location, enabled us to find the right audiences - even if it was just a quick trip to the shops or walk around the block.”

Choosing HUN Wine, Nick also said, Hun Wine used careful planning and clever creative copy in OOH to launch with a contextual campaign that tapped into both our sense of humour and latent need to drink through incredibly difficult times. The ad asked if you saw the campaign and referenced firing their ad agency for an OOH placement. If you're looking to define bravery, then the copy - "Our advertising agency put our poster out here. They're not our advertising agency anymore." - on a high street digital OOH screen is just that.”

Grand Visual’s Founder & Managing Director, Neil Morris chose Sending Love, “...I would say this, but I think that the #SendingLove campaign... with the World Out of Home Organisation was outstanding on two counts. Firstly it was a warmhearted and very human campaign that used a medium that is part of the fabric of our surroundings to connect individuals and communities globally at a time of great fear, uncertainty and isolation. Secondly, it points the way in terms of how the OOH medium can play a major role in a modern communications ecosystem involving user-generated content, mobile devices, creative automation and all at massive scale but managed from a central hub. It is the model for future of global digital OOH.

Another campaign that dominated 2020, was BBC’s Dracula. The campaign went viral online and won multiple awards! Jay Young, Head of Creative Solutions, said, “We couldn’t talk about 2020 campaigns without talking about BBC Dracula - a best in class example of storytelling through an OOH creative execution. For a single billboard in London to reach people from all over the world in a matter of days, it’s what creatives and media planners strive for!”

James Copley, co-CEO of Talon UK’s comments, “One of my favourite campaigns is the recent activity from Specsavers throughout the 2nd lockdown in November - a combination of great creative, high-quality media planning and the knowledge of how hard the team fought to retain the budget.” 

Across the pond, Talon US CEO, Jim Wilson, selected the fantastic work his team did for Wendy’s, “Our work with Wendy’s is a great case study on the power of OOH flexibility during the pandemic...BUT what makes this campaign inspirational is how we collectively pivoted due to COVID. The campaign, which was 13 months in the making, had to be reformulated just days after going up. The herculean effort showcased Talon’s adaptability and scale of DOOH advertising. It also showed Wendy’s steadfastness in converting the ad buy into a platform that conveyed its unwavering community support, as well as safe delivery and drive-thru retail options. All in, the Wendy’s CEO announced that the breakfast launch was a success in August.”

Key Developments & Initiatives from 2020

In 2020, data and how we use it has seen a fundamental transformation in tracking and planning both audience location and OOH campaigns. 

Group Strategy Director, Sophie Pemberton comments, “The Ada Covid reporting dashboard has been one of the most effective and valuable tools we have produced as a business this year. It has enabled Talon to have a view on UK audience mobility across a variety of environments and produce intelligent, data-led recommendations for our clients based on real and recent behaviours which have been in constant flux since March. We even managed to develop, create and publish the dashboard before Google and Apple mobility data was made available!”  

We also launched Atlas, our Automated OOH Buying platform. From concept to revenue generation in just seven months, Atlas has totally transformed programmatic OOH, with its first-ever campaign for Fineco with Hearts&Science a measurable success. 

Culturally, People Director, Hayley Tiptaft, "...felt proud to be a part of our continued drive around diversity and inclusion (D&I). I joined the business just after the death of George Floyd; we made a conscious decision to take positive action on the D&I front through an anti-racism lens. The business has set up a working group, ran an anti-racism week and launched our commitments for 2021. It has been an eye-opening journey which is still in its infancy but is far being just another initiative.” 

With the year behind us, knowing what you know now what is one piece of advice you would give to your 2020 self?

James Copley reminds us that, “Relationships are important but when things get tough and the world around you is going crazy, they are more important than ever.” 

Tom Perrett, Plexus’ Client Services Director added, "Prepare for the unexpected, and always look at the long-term development plan. Believe in the process, and continue to support & inform partners, especially during the challenging times.” 

Nick Mawditt added, Never stop adapting to the present. Business is not about standing still. Change is usually positive. Whilst 2020 challenges that view, we'll come out with a clearer perspective, and a better future. It doesn't necessarily feel like it now, but there has never been a bigger challenge or a better learning opportunity than what we've had this year. Next year will bring different challenges. But expect the unexpected!” 

Hayley Tiptaft said, Operationally it would be to focus on the things we can control. 2020 dealt us a whole host of unknowns so it is important to feel like you are making progress and achieving the small wins. On a personal level, and it sounds cliché, it would be to take time for yourself which can be hard to factor it in during a time when the lines between work and home became blurred. It could be a small action such as blocking out some time to take a break from the screen, be active, talk to friends/family. We're available to our teams, our clients, our managers more so now than ever before via various platforms and so we have a responsibility to ourselves and each other to restore the balance. 

Jay Young adds creative perspective, "Brands began to think more creatively than ever before – playing with context, creating new canvasses and doing everything they could to turn potential impacts into genuine engagement. It’s been an exciting ride and one that re-ignited our love for the OOH landscape. I read an article last week titled “Media is an Art, not an algorithm”. The headline says it all really!" 

So, what would do you expect recovery to look like in 2021?

Grand Visual’s Chief Creative Officer, Dan Dawson ...expects to see more flexible campaigns in our immediate future. Campaigns that show the heart and soul of brands, that understand the mindset of their audience and tailor their messages accordingly... in real-time as conditions change. 

Jay Young has a positive outlook for 2021Recessions of the past have led to some of history’s most engaging creative work; both within advertising and across the arts. If the work we’ve witnessed in the second half of this year is anything to go by, 2021 could break the mould. There is so much pent-up creativity across the industry, I’m excited to see where that takes us! 

Speaking from an international point of view, Tom Perrett is “...hugely optimistic that OOH has a more important role than ever to play in terms of public information, informative messaging, and being an integral part of the upward trajectory of the recovery in early 2021.... Understanding behavioural changes and new expectations of the consumer journey is going to be critical, but we are better placed than ever to lead and inform our partners." 

Hayley Tiptaft adds, “Who knows what to expect in 2021, if 2020 taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected. We are better equipped to deal with change and ambiguity as we recover from the pandemic... I think we'll continue to see new trends emerging in the ways in which we work, and the attributes required to foster cultures based on greater trust and agility. 

And finally, Jim Wilson concludes, “OOH proved to be an essential pathway during the pandemic to inform consumers where to go to stay safe and where to get products and services they needed. The digitization of OOH combined with new data and technology capabilities for targeting and measurement across the customer journey will bring OOH to the forefront as a priority channel for brands and marketers... The winners will be those that can simplify OOH buying and bring a strategy-led and cross-platform approach to execute with scale, precision and transparency – and this is what sets Talon apart.” 

Here’s to a successful 2021. For our view on how OOH will adapt in the year ahead, please see our latest perspective.