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OOH advertising goes green and sees the environment return to our cities

28 022018


Both the communications and advertising industries are mindful of sustainability, with creatives exploring more unusual routes with high-impact and green results that are proving popular with the general public. The next step is to make them financially accessible to all brands. In the meantime, visiting Print4All will enable us to be inspired by technologies and materials that guarantee environmentally-friendly products.

The world seeks to become progressively green, but are our companies ready? If on the one hand the demand for digital innovation is high - and confirmed by the growing number of solutions that make out-of-home devices increasingly smart city-friendly - where are we with environmental sustainability in the outdoor advertising industry? Long gone are the days when the disposable mentality reigned supreme, yet with climate change becoming increasingly apparent and the widespread unease when using materials that have a high impact on the environment, the time has finally come to take things to the next level. End customers, dealers, creatives and material manufacturers are well aware of this, with the sector being called upon the world over to promote a green agenda.

The use of sustainable advertising helps brands to achieve their green objectives, with billboards representing a public asset that hasn’t yet been fully exploited, and could contribute to generate revenue for clean development. Some work is however required to make green choices progressively less expensive (whether it’s inks, media, materials or management), so as to represent an alternative for the customers. The advertiser wants their message to be both sustainable and economical at the same time.

As the whole market is preparing to go green, thereby transforming the trend into a clear consumer mandate, we are seeing the emergence of new products and solutions that make use of the latest technological innovations or simply the ‘green’ fingers of creatives. An example would be the new ‘living walls’, one of the highest-impact forms of environmentally-sound media: a billboard that communicates a message through vegetation, like that designed with tea plants for the Coca Cola advert. The plants, inserted vertically into bottles, work hard 24 hours a day to both absorb carbon dioxide and promote the brand. Other buildings have seen herbaceous panels anchored to their walls, so as to cool the building in the summer and protect it from frost in the winter, resulting in savings in terms of energy costs.

Technological innovation also plays an important role. The city of Copenhagen, for example, aims to leave no environmental footprint by 2025, with an environmentally-friendly approach used in the city’s urban design, which also has an impact on OOH advertising. So much so that JCDecaux has set a number of ambitious targets: 49% reduction in the energy consumption of installations and electric vehicles for maintenance works, as well as electric bicycles for the cleaning (using rainwater) of city-centre panels. A message that has been adopted by Australian company OMA, which has brought the various media advertising intermediaries together: from the recycling of waste material to sustainable technologies, or from the saving of energy, water and resources to non-polluting vehicles, kangaroo-country is seeking to become a green model for the continent of Oceania.

And Italy? It’s certainly not lagging behind. Better late than never, Italy is making inroads in terms of environmental awareness, thanks in part to exchanges between customers (almost all key players), creatives (many of whom are part of international advertising networks), material manufacturers and printing professionals, who are increasingly equipped to meet the environmentally-friendly demand. A market segment that is becoming progressively important with each passing season.

One of the most visible examples of this decisive change of direction towards more environmentally-aware OOH advertising comes from global skincare brand Nivea. And it’s no coincidence:  Nivea, which is headed by colossal German company Beiersdorf - founded 130 years ago and with 17 thousand employees - has recently launched its ‘Urban Skin’ line, formulated specifically to counteract the effects that the increasingly polluted city environment has on the skin. The target customer lives in a sprawling city, but does so at unease knowing that the air is dirty: what better way is there to promote a product designed to shield the skin from smog than by using a material that already contributes to achieving a healthier city?

The structure situated in Piazza San Babila in the very centre of Milan was chosen to host the maxi billboard of almost 400 square metres and characterised by the innovative technology of green ‘The Breath’ fabric, representing a sustainable and environmentally-friendly solution designed by Italian company Anemotech, which absorbs smog and exploits the movement of the air, enabling cleaner and more breathable air to circulate.

Between its plant-billboards and panels that work to clean the air, the trend of choosing environmentally-sound materials is also winning over the advertising industry. Innovation is being used for health and energy savings and the advertisements that are making the difference are increasingly green.

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