Agency brief: Let's talk about those ED ads on your morning commute

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StreetEasy
StreetEasy  Credit: StreetEasy

My daily commute from Bushwick-ish to our office in Midtown East is punctuated by a display of startup subway ads — for health insurance (Oscar), clothing (Rent the Runway), apartment rentals (StreetEasy), takeout (Seamless) and, lately, erectile dysfunction (if you're a New Yorker and possess working eyes you've probably seen those Roman ads plastered on every surface of Grand Central Terminal). Roman, for you out-of-towners, describes itself as a "men's health company, providing online diagnosis and discreet shipping of safe, legal ED medication."

So why are some of these high-tech (or just brand-new) players investing so heavily in the low-tech?

I stopped by Northside Festival in Williamsburg on Thursday evening for a panel on "The Cloud of the Subway Ad" with speakers from Outfront Media, brand consultancy Sunday Dinner and on-demand home services platform Handy to find out.

Digital ad fraud is no joke these days. "As things are changing, I think we're really starting to value old formats that have come alive in new ways," says Sunday Dinner founder Lindsey Slaby, adding that podcasts have breathed new life into audio ads. "Out-of-home is a way to take your brand and make it tangible in a big way. I think if done properly, people are seeing great results from it."

Handy's VP of customer acquisition Ran Tan added that when the startup started running ads, they were more favorable than Facebook on a cost-per-view basis, and added there's a sort of "halo effect" to those ads, giving customers the idea that they're a more serious product.

Outfront's chief product experience officer Jason Kuperman wouldn't get into the specifics on how the company is doing targeting underground, only commenting that Outfront is doing some industry-leading stuff. The company is also working on digital units installed in subway cars.

And he hinted our commutes could involve more content than community college ads someday.

"One of the things we're working on with the MTA on is 'Does it really have to all be advertising? What other opportunities or content can find its way into the environment?'" Kuperman says. "'What about a 15-second silent episodic morning show you can only see between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. on certain subway lines? … We're really trying to expand their minds about that.'"

All aboard, agency folks, time for a bit of other agency news.

Never Just a Smoke OOH
Never Just a Smoke OOH Credit: Duncan Channon

"Only when I drink…"
Duncan Channon isn't just blowing smoke with its new campaign for the California Department of Public Health's CA Tobacco Control Program. The "Never Just a Smoke" campaign, which involves out-of-home and digital spots, show young people struggle to "explain away their night-out cigarette to a date or a friend." The work launched this week.

"The campaign also combats the reality that new forms of tobacco -- including hookah, cigarillos, and e-cigarettes such as JUUL -- make young people less likely to perceive the health risks of occasional use," Anne Elisco-Lemme, Duncan Channon executive creative director said in a statement. "It's all too easy to dismiss something you don't do everyday as harmless, especially if it doesn't look or taste like a traditional cigarette." One of the out-of-home executions says a JUUL pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

They won't do business without her
There's a new top creative at the helm of the American Express account at McGarryBowen. Julie Scelzo was named global executive creative director at the agency, where she'll continue the "Don't Live Life Without It" and "Don't Do Business Without It" campaign promises recently developed by McGarryBowen since it won the business last year. Scelzo was most recently in-house executive creative director at Pandora, and has had stints at agencies including FCB West and Leo Burnett.

On the move…
WPP-owned digital agency Wunderman has a new president of its Chicago office. Ian Sohn, who was previously SapientRazorfish's managing director of Chicago. He will report to Seth Solomons, Wunderman's North America CEO.

GroupM's M/Six has hired a new chief digital officer for North America -- Ray Romero -- from MetaVision Media, where he led the agency's digital and data strategy. It's a new role for the agency.

Number of the week:
$2.4 billion -- that's how much Publicis Media's Zenith forecasts this year's FIFA World Cup tournament in Russia will add to the global advertising market.

Tweet of the week:

Contributing: Adrianne Pasquarelli

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