A day in the life of the distracted driver

By Thobekile Radebe, OOH Strategist at The MediaShop

As with all of us, there are so many brands vying for my attention from the moment I leave the house to when I finally reach my destination. Between making sure that I balance my mascara wand in my one hand (while stopped at the robot of course) sipping my smoothie without missing my mouth, making sure I can respond in time if anyone mentions my name or asks for my input on the Teams Meeting that I am currently connected to through my car’s Bluetooth speaker, there is always a lot on the go. Oh and in between all that I need to occasionally turn back to reassure my daughter that we are not going to be late and that we will make it to her gymnastics class on time.

I mean, show me a driver that never gets distracted while on the road? It may not be ideal but with the increase of demands placed on all of us, realistically, it’s not very often that I have the luxury of driving around and smelling the roses (or checking billboards).

As I make my way anywhere it is often evident that most drivers and people on the road are distracted. You see this so often with people honking for the driver in front of them to go just as the robot turns green, geez, the impatient ones. That and the silly bumper bashers and don’t get me started on having to dodge the taxi driver who just created a fourth lane OUT OF NOWHERE. Let’s not even get into the traffic light entertainers, car washers – yeah, it’s a lot! And all this while millions of brands are trying to get your attention. Trying to get you to click on that pop up, buy that car or cook that for dinner tonight.

Ok, so what are the solutions?

What this means for OOH

My advice to brands is the following:

Be the distraction – use large format, impact sites. Bigger is better when you are trying to stand out in an often-cluttered OOH environment. My personal belief is that a bigger site is more likely to catch one’s attention.

Be a part of the distraction – sites near major intersections with higher dwell time have a better likelihood to be seen. By being closer to an intersection you have a higher chance of catching me after I respond to a text message. If the traffic is bad enough (thanks loadshedding) the likelihood of seeing and responding to OOH messaging is that much more likely.

Kill the distraction – and when the site is big enough, strategically placed near an intersection or anywhere with great visibility, make sure that it’s worth looking at. It is one thing to see a meal on a billboard but when there is a whole chicken coming out of it AND the store is around the corner, which means I have an opportunity to act immediately on what I have seen, then that’s some good OOH. Not only has that killed all other distraction but now I am hungry too.

The point? As important and impactful as the location/placement of the media is, OOH provides a unique opportunity to have greater consumer engagement by creating content that can act as a conversation/hunger/desire starter.

We all have conversations in our cars! Be it with other occupants of the vehicle or even in our own heads. (Where is my Amen corner?) So, OOH is an opportunity to go beyond brand and product placement and be a distraction from the mundane by being part of the conversations that people are having on the road. The ‘how’ is obviously relative but this gives opportunity for deeper engagement that has the ability to entrench your campaign in the mind of the consumer.

As with all things, there is a good side to being distracted, and OOH has the ability to be louder than the noise of the hazards that vie for our attention. By being innovative and strategic in its execution OOH can enrich your media campaign because fortunately traffic will never be a bathroom break!

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