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What can Chick-Fil-A teach you about Outdoor Advertising?

February 15, 2010

Kind of like the place kicker on a football team, outdoor advertising doesn’t get nearly enough credit.  They’re on 24/7, have an extremely low CPM (cost per thousand) and, most importantly these days, they can’t get clicked through, turned off, fast forwarded, or deleted. Outdoor advertising is an important part of a successful advertising campaign.

Lamar Outdoor

Of the two outdoor billboard campaigns that have caught my attention lately, one is from out-of-home advertising giant Lamar Outdoor. I guess that means they’re good at what they do.  Lately, Lamar has been using simple, solid, bright color billboards with phrases on them like “Use your Outdoor Voice” written in tall, white, block letters. Just the basics. But they get results.

Chick-Fil-A … Eat Mor Chikin!

The campaign that has caught my attention for some time since I moved to Memphis, TN in Summer 2007, has been from Chick-Fil-A. If you’ve passed through the Mid-South (or anywhere there’s a Chick-Fil-A) then you’ve undoubtedly seen a billboard like the one pictured to the left. They feature nothing more than a short, misspelled phrase, usually “Eat Mor Chikin”, and a couple of three-dimensional cows standing on the ledge which appear to me painting the signs.  Simple, yet very effective. Maybe that’s why the campaign has been around since 1995!

Here are 5 reasons why Chick-Fil-A’s outdoor campaign has had some success. Apply them as you plan your next out-of-home campaign.

Clean and Simple – Just about every billboard in the campaign is solid white a short phrase in big, black letters. The Chick-Fil-A logo is also prominent in the center of the billboard. Viewers only have a few seconds to read and digest the meaning of your billboard. The rule of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid.) applies here. Don’t try to get too creative.

Clever Theme –What’s more funny than two cows with poor grammar skills tell you to eat chicken instead of beef?  The whole idea is to remind the viewer that there’s something out there besides the same meal at the same burger joint every day for lunch.  Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s can’t beat it. I wouldn’t try the same theme for your business. Instead, figure out what’s at the core of your brand. Or, what’s at the core of what will get your brand to where you want it to be. Run with it.

Change of Pace – Chick-Fil-A’s billboard’s don’t say “Eat Mor Chikin” for long. They constantly change up the phrases. The cows are always changing too…during football season they wear helmets and jerseys. At Christmas, they might look like reindeer. Keeping the customer guessing makes the billboard’s more interactive. I always look for the billboard in my area to see what they’ve come up with next. That keeps Chick-Fil-A top of mind. The latest round of billboards feature bright yellow swipes of paint meant to look like the sunrise because Chick-Fil-A is pushing their new breakfast menu. The bright yellow is a change from the usual white and it sticks out from the norm in viewers brains. Don’t be afraid to switch things up on your own billboards. You may not have the budget for cow-zised football jerseys but you can always make a change every now and then. Don’t let your sign get stale.

Consistent Placement – The campaign has been running for 15 years! That’s pretty consistent if you ask me. Just as important as a consistent brand message is consistent location. As I said, I’m always looking for the Chick-Fil-A signs little changes because I know where to look. If I didn’t know the signs were going to be there, they wouldn’t be nearly as effective. Do some research, find a great location for your next outdoor campaign and start something big!

Call to Action – It’s fairly subtle. The goal in all of Chick-Fil-A’s advertising is to create consideration for chicken instead of the usual burger and fries when viewers are thinking food. By always saying “Hey, what about chicken?” they’re always top of mind. Always have a call to action in your outdoor advertising. Even if it is as simple as your website address. You’ve gained the viewers interest. Tell them what to do next!

Follow these simple steps and you should have some success with your outdoor advertising. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Credit: http://www.jonathantoler.com/tag/chik-fil-a/

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sam permalink
    March 30, 2011 3:10 pm

    Chick fil a really does a lot of things right. I’m constantly impressed every time I go there. I’m not surprised at all that their outdoor advertising is well thought out as well.

  2. September 24, 2011 4:22 pm

    it’s getting old, much like the Progressive (Flo’) commercials….

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