Taking the gap
Out-of-home agency grows by innovation and exploring new markets
ONE OF THE enduring memories of the Soccer World Cup last year was the gigantic Nike building wrap that covered the 30-storey Life Centre in downtown Johannesburg. As part of Nike’s global “Write the Future” campaign, it featured 90m-high images of footballers Robinho and Cristiano Ronaldo bordering a huge interactive digital platform, displaying up to 100 messages each night during the competition from football fans worldwide.
It was the largest building wrap on the African continent, covering 8 400sq m. But more importantly, it was the key focus of a marketing campaign that, by one reckoning, put Nike ahead of arch rival adidas in publicity during the soccer extravaganza. Research by the Nielsen Company found more people associated the World Cup with Nike (a non-sponsor) than with any other brand – including adidas, an official partner.
The billboard was erected by Impact Media, a division of a small but fast-growing out-of-home advertising contractor called Graffiti. Impact Media is known for highly technical, out-of-the ordinary large-scale outdoor executions. Another example was the customised 3D installation of a giant makarapa outside First National Bank’s downtown head office during the event.
Graffiti was started in 1999 when John Rice and Gavin Schlaphoff took over a basic signage business in Benoni and turned it into a surprisingly diversified out-of-home contractor. The group currently employs 186 people and is billing more than R100m/year. It sells space on company fleets, elegant London cabs, funky minicabs, bright luminescent taxi tops, student vehicle branding, giant helium balloons and massive building wraps, affording clients advertising opportunities to suit almost any brand.
It was one of the first to see the gap in the market for vehicle branding. “The agencies filed us away as a vehicle branding business but we’ve diversified into a variety of other activities, including balloons, building wraps and airport runway buses,” says Rice.
In all, 800 vehicles/month are branded, with growth coming from the taxi market (“A lot more professional now, with owners paying more attention to maintenance,” says Schlaphoff) and companies using their salesmen’s cars for advertising.