Do OOH Ads Promote States That Have No Billboards?

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States and tourist attractions use OOH to draw visitors. In the past, I’ve been asked, “have you seen OOH ads that promote states that with no billboards?”

Yes. I see them often.

I recently observed judging for OBIE Awards, the annual recognition for excellence in out of home media.  Ads for Maine caught my eye, such as the young skier who likes black-diamond runs.

Maine and three other states have no billboards (Alaska, Hawaii, and Vermont).  But yes, sharp-looking OOH ads promote visitation and commerce in those states.  Here are examples (some won national honors):

Vermont Skiing

The Stratton ski resort in Vermont was a 2013 OBIE finalist. Its New York ad agency, Love and War, said the goal of the Stratton ad campaign was to stay “true to the resort’s classic Vermont roots while making it accessible to broader audiences.”

Vermont ski ad in New York City

Vintage billboard for Vermont skiing

This year, the Vermont Ski Areas Association used digital billboards in Boston to promote the state’s resorts. In the summer of 2015, the Vermont Department of Tourism also bought Boston billboards to woo visitors in the off season.

Vermont Seat Belts

Vermont’s highway safety program bought billboards in nearby states to promote seat belts.

“We bought billboards in New Hampshire and Massachusetts as close to the Vermont border as we can get,” said Charles Satterfield of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program in 2005.

Billboard promoting seat belts

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines won OBIEs for promoting travel to Hawaii (Gold, Silver, and Finalist, 2011).

“Have you been to Seattle in winter? It’s like living in a chilled tube sock,” said the airline’s ad agency (Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener), explaining the appeal of Alaska Airlines’ daily nonstops to four Hawaiian Islands.

Travel-tourism is a significant category for OOH sales.

Award-winning billboard for Alaska Airlines flights to Hawaii

University of Maine

Pitching price, the University of Maine used billboards to target prospective students in six other states.  In 2016, the university reported a 54 percent increase in out-of-state freshman commitments for the fall term.

University of Maine billboard in Connecticut

Maine Photography
Meanwhile, the tech sector is a growth category for OOH advertising.  Apple’s award-winning campaign heralding the camera function of its cell phone featured iPhone images from around the globe.

Maine photographer/mom Kari Grosser Herer took an iPhone photo of her child tossed in the air, about to splash down in a pool. This image was displayed on OOH formats in India, Canada, Mexico, and the US.  Kari, who planned an out of state trip to see her large-format photo, posted this in-case-you-missed-it reminder about publicity:

(Nicole Randall is communications senior director at the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.  She is not an OBIE judge, but observed judging in Miami Beach January 26, 2018.)

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