Tak­ing the gap

Out-of-home agency grows by in­no­va­tion and ex­plor­ing new mar­kets

Finweek English Edition - - ADVERTISING & MARKETING -

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.


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