Faux Out of home

A new trend is emerging in the constantly changing world of digital marketing that is grabbing attention and challenging our perceptions of what is genuine and what is not.

Faux Out-of-Home (FOOH) advertising is increasing in popularity, more brands are now following the trend of creating ‘realistic’ OOH campaigns that are actually CGI-generated; providing a powerful avenue for imagination, however, there are moral considerations.

One example of FOOH advertising is Maybelline’s Sky High Mascara; a viral video showcasing their ‘new OOH campaign’ where London underground trains and London buses iconically wore eyelashes, demonstrating the benefits of the mascara formula as well as the bending wand technology. At the time the video was released to social media, it was not made clear that the OOH campaign was created using CGI and therefore misleading consumers.

McDonald’s is one of the brands to recently jump on the trend with a festive FOOH campaign. The campaign is called ‘Festive wins’ featuring a fleet of festive baubles driving through London’s Oxford Circus and bursting McDonald’s burger boxes outside the Bullring, Birmingham, and celebratory Christmas crackers along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

FOOH’s creativity is completely unhindered by reality, budget, resources, and media formats; therefore, it has the potential to go ‘viral’ on social media and drive brand awareness and engagement.

Since deceiving customers seems to be the key to faux out-of-home success. The allure of Barbie’s enormous doll, Maybelline’s eyelash tube promotion, and Jacquemus’ giant bags would have undoubtedly been ruined if a disclaimer revealing the CGI origins had been included at the time of publication.

After reading a FOOH feature on the Drum, we found it interesting that JC Decaux’s Chief Marketing Officer, David McEvoy has reported on the topic. McEvoy promptly emphasised that in spite of the significant volume of FOOH sightings recently, the problem has really been there for some time. Pointing out that even before digital adverts, you’d often see television ads featuring billboards, street furniture, or bus shelter panels, proving that the creativity wasn’t genuinely used in the out-of-home environment.

Brands wanting to create CGI campaigns must approach with caution, as it could jeopardise consumer relationships as well as brand reputation. 

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