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4 August 2023

Inspiration and advice for the return of Look Ahead 

Global’s commercial marketing director, Sophie Lavender, offered some inspiration and advice to anyone hoping to win a two-week TfL campaign as part of the Look Ahead competition.

When Global came up with the idea of soliciting positive and uplifting outdoor campaign ideas for its inaugural Look Ahead contest in 2022, it was a reflection of the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty in the UK, says Global’s commercial marketing director, Sophie Lavender.

When the time came to launch the 2023 Look Ahead contest, in conjunction with Contagious and Transport for London (TfL), Global hoped that things would be looking a little bit brighter, and the theme would change accordingly.

‘Needless to say,’ Lavender told the audience at Contagious Live in London on 12 July, ‘the theme is staying for a second year.’ 

But the theme is not the only thing that this year’s Look Ahead competition will share with last year’s contest.

For Global, the Media and Entertainment Group, the Look Ahead competition is still a way to inspire brands and agencies and creatives to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with outdoor advertising, and to encourage our industry to fall back in love with the medium.

And once again, the winner of the Look Ahead contest will see their idea brought to life – and to the attention of up to 4 million Londoners – with a two-week media placement across some of Transport for London’s most eye-catching and innovative outdoor media formats in 2024.

To set the scene for the power that outdoor media has to convey emotion, Lavender, who was being interviewed by Contagious co-founder Paul Kemp Robertson at Contagious Live on Wednesday evening, highlighted some of the big winners in the Outdoor category at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

The Last Photo campaign for the Campaign Against Living Miserably, which contrasted the tragedy of suicide with smiling photos of people who would shortly after take their own lives, demonstrated ‘the power of outdoor as a broadcast channel, to drive that level of emotion and connection,’ said Lavender.

Meanwhile, British Airways’ A British Original campaign, which took the Outdoor Grand Prix at Cannes this year, was inspirational for its scale and ambition, said Lavender, as well as its ‘ingenious copywriting’.

To offer inspiration to any hopefuls for this year’s prize among the audience at Contagious Live, Kemp-Robertson then asked Lavender what the winner of last year’s Look Ahead competition, The Wayback, did to stand out from the other entrants..

The Wayback’s winning idea used TfL’s ribbon screens to make it seem as though commuters were riding escalators alongside people from the 1960s, to communicate a message about how virtual reality can help dementia sufferers by letting them relive their past.

Lavender said that the campaign, more than any other, brought to life the creative potential of the innovative screens, and really made the most of the opportunity that the channel presents to immerse and entertain people for an extended dwell time that is almost unique to London Underground stations.

As well as generating a lot of valuable exposure for a worthy cause, the Wayback campaign evidently had the desired impact of highlighting the potential of outdoor media. Lavender relayed an anecdote about several clients approaching TfL directly after the Wayback campaign went live earlier this year, saying how they’d seen a ‘really cool thing’ on its ribbon screens and asking how they might create something similar.

Asked about this year’s Look Ahead contest, Lavender said that there would also be a theme around journeys, and ‘how to communicate to an audience using different out-of-home formats within the same London Underground station.’

The winner of this year’s competition will receive a two-week campaign that runs in three Elizabeth line stations across the digital gateways, digital escalator ribbons and digital runways formats.

‘I can't tell you the exact figure, said Lavender, ‘but I can tell you, it's between £100,000 and £500,000 worth of media.’

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