The Best Out-of-Home Strategy? Surround Them

Q&A: MediaVest's Norm Chait on Targeting Busy Consumers

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NEW YORK ( -- Norm Chait was recently promoted to senior VP-director of out-of-home investment and activation for Publicis's MediaVest USA, where he oversees out-of-home strategy for clients such as Activision, Coca-Cola, Continental, EarthLink, Ernst & Young, Heineken, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and UBS.
Norm Chiat
Norm Chiat

Prior to coming to MediaVest in 2005, Chait worked as group planning director at MindShare's Wow Factory, where he oversaw strategic planning and buying for nontraditional media.

Mr. Chait talks with MediaWorks about how MediaVest used Bluetooth technology in a recent out-of-home campaign in the New York subway system for Westin, and how figuring out just where your consumer target goes each day is essential in building an effective out of home strategy.

MediaWorks: How is MediaVest integrating digital capabilities into out of home?

Norm Chait: Out of home has been on the rise for many years. What's really fueled a lot of the excitement and a lot of the growth is the way that new technologies are starting to impact the landscape. [Digital] certainly creates the opportunity for us to have a richer dialogue and to create more of a captivating connection with the consumers. We are trying to move away from more passive exposure to a more engaging experience, and technology is allowing us to do that. So, whether it's downloading the Westin ring tone via your Bluetooth device, or allowing a package-goods client who normally use TV and more traditional formats to take their 15- or 30-second spot and run it in a market setting or a health club, that's definitely a win.

MediaWorks: Out of home is one of the fastest-growing mediums in terms of ad spending. Are more clients getting into out of home? How does that have an impact on your strategies?

Mr. Chait: Certainly when I started here under three years ago, we had maybe five or six of our clients doing out of home. Now virtually every one of our clients -- and we have about 30, give or take -- is doing out of home, which is exciting for us. All of these emerging opportunities, the fact that we can touch consumers in multiple areas throughout people's day, are really what's driving that growth. Technology is playing a big part of that, even though the digital out-of-home space is still a fairly small piece of the pie -- it probably represent 2% to 5% of out-of-home spending -- it's still a significant number because it was zero only a couple years ago.

MediaWorks: How is the consolidation of out-of-home suppliers affecting buying in the current landscape?

Mr. Chait: Well, the good news is that it's still a competitive landscape. It's rare that there is only one vendor to go to. That hasn't been a major hurdle. We are representing a variety of national advertisers, and the fact that we can leverage the spending that we have with the Clear Channels of the world and the CBS Outdoors of the world and do larger deals is still benefiting our clients. Not to say there isn't a value in dealing with moms and pops. If a client wants to be in certain geography or a certain street corner and it's not one of the big guys, we'll go with the little guy because we need to get to the right space for our clients. So it's a little competitive out of there. But from a pricing standpoint, it's helped us because we tend to do more volume with the bigger players by nature of how much inventory they own and the type of clients we have.

MediaWorks: What's an effective or smart out-of-home strategy that's impressed you?

Mr. Chait: What we've found to work successfully on multiple occasions is something like a surround strategy, which is really the opposite of doing out-of-home as a one-off. The big win is when we are able to impact a specific target throughout multiple points in their day. And that really starts with understanding who your target is -- having consumer insights that really get into the mind-set of the consumer. So if they are commuting, if they are a frequent business traveler, if they are a mom with kids dropping Bobby off at soccer practice and then going to the supermarket or the mall, then the dry cleaners -- understanding that person's day-to-day activity. The beauty of out of home is we can actually impact each and every one of those environments.

MediaWorks: Can you talk about one example of MediaVest's recent work that takes advantage of that insight?

Mr. Chait: The Westin campaign. That was really focused on the business traveler that has that kind of hectic lifestyle, and Westin is basically providing that oasis in a sea of chaos and really communicating the message that "This is how you should feel" as opposed to trying to get a spot on the train or running through the terminal. So we're bringing to them some very beautiful serene environments and trying to transform some of those chaotic places into a Westin-like experience. We basically took over the Grand Central subway station with beautiful visuals of beach scenes, rain forests and waterfalls. We wrapped the inside of the Grand Central shuttle and, anecdotally, we've heard from the MTA that people on the platform say, "Don't get on that train, wait till the Westin train comes in."
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