Sight Lines

Leveraging the power of OOH in an uncertain world

The Talon Group is a major independent Out of Home specialist, based in the UK, with Plexus as its international division. In this interview, Talon Managing Partner International Adrian Skelton assesses the fallout from COVID-19 on the OOH business, but says that the crisis can unleash a new era of creativity in the channel. [Note: The Talon Group will take part in the inaugural Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo. It is offering US$250,000 of free airport media space to one lucky client that visits its stand, and will provide free creative services for a new campaign through its Grand Visual team.]

The Moodie Davitt Report: How have you dealt with the COVID-19 crisis, both internally and externally with your partners?

Adrian Skelton: The impact on OOH has been huge with the effects of travel restrictions being felt across the world. Our focus at Plexus has been to demonstrate leadership in these uncertain times, focusing on the recovery and advising our clients how best to invest in OOH as people start to emerge from lockdown.

Adrian Skelton: A different world emerges for OOH

The crisis has also given us the opportunity to use a variety of new and relevant data sources that track audiences, enabling us to pivot towards city and other locations that are attracting returning audiences. It has also highlighted the importance of Out of Home and the public space to deliver vital messages to audiences and key workers. This and other charity initiatives has kept OOH relevant over lockdown.

#sendinglove: Talon Group underlines the power of OOH messaging in Times Square, New York

What do you see as the role of Out of Home organisations in these challenging times?

Although OOH has suffered, these challenging times have helped to reinforce the impact and power of OOH. There have been many great examples around the word of OOH being used to communicate government messaging, show support to the emergency services and create a sense of community. The World Out of Home Organisation’s #secondchance campaign as well as our own #sendinglove campaign are great examples of how OOH can unite communities around the world to a common message of hope.

An eye-catching campaign with Luxottica in the travel space

At this stage, can you identify any lessons from the crisis for the business of OOH advertising and consumer engagement?

From the outset of the crisis we strongly believed a unified approach would see us through – the OOH industry is certainly stronger together – whether it is governing bodies, trade associations, specialist agencies or media owners. We are all united in our passion for the OOH medium. The sense of global togetherness seen in campaigns like #oursecondchance and #sendinglove has been a real inspiration.

Partnering with World Duty Free and Diageo at Heathrow Airport

What investments are you making in understanding and engaging the consumer better through these times?

Demonstrating leadership in these times of change is our priority at Plexus as it is important we quickly understand changing customer behaviour as a result of this crisis. Continued investment in data and research will be a key part of this, but I’d also put a lot of emphasis on creativity. Bringing our sister agency Grand Visual (leaders in Digital OOH creativity) closer to the media planning process will make client campaigns work harder for their money.

The Talon Group sendinglove campaign resonated around the world

How do you see relationships with partners moving ahead? Are there new contractual structures and models that would fit this new world better?

I believe that there’s a realisation on behalf of both buyers and sellers that more agility is required in this marketplace. Never before have trust and transparency been so important.

Unique cancellation terms, closer CPM alignment and effective post campaign reporting have all been at the forefront of our thinking during this time. Delivering tangible business outcomes for clients has always been always our priority.

We can’t get away from the impact of this crisis, but our objective is to be positive and identify new opportunities that arise from it.

Capturing travellers on the move: New media offer a richer canvas for communication, says Adrian Skelton

Do you see content becoming even more of a differentiator for your brand partners (especially in travel environments)? How can you help them achieve this?

The widespread digitisation of media in international travel environments means that brands have a much richer canvas for communication at their disposal. Over the last few years there has been massive investment by landlords and media vendors into the screens and digital infrastructure that powers those screens.

This investment has transformed OOH media in travel environments and allowed brands to present engaging motion creative and dynamically optimise their messaging via data driven campaigns. It has allowed them to be more flexible and more targeted with creative and distribute campaigns to multiple markets and environments in a more frictionless manner.

In partnering with Plexus, Grand Visual brings many years of experience, expertise and bespoke systems into play for brands who want their creative to be smarter, work harder and be more engaging.

To deliver better ROI it’s important to customise creative content around consumers, their environment and mindset. Grand Visual can develop and produce rich motion creative localised for multiple markets as well as facilitating data-driven optimisation for better targeting. It also aligns with POS creative for a joined up consumer journey from “out-of-store to in-store”.

Blending communications inside and beyond the store environment

What new opportunities do you foresee in a post-COVID-19 world for your company?

Excuse the over used term, but there will be a ‘new norm’ for how consumers travel and ultimately engage with OOH advertising in a post COVID-19 world. Helping clients navigate this in a ‘Smarter as Standard’ way is exciting and I genuinely feel our best work is ahead of us.

It has really opened our eyes to the possibility of being more reactive and in the moment using device data and other data sources around cities and locations. And with our creative outlook the value of contextual OOH messages has never been greater than over the past few months. In short, we have shown OOH can deliver real leadership in brands’ communications, and as audiences return is an outlet for much needed broadcast messages for brands in recovery.

What are your ambitions in the travel and airport market?

The huge amount of customer data available combined with the amazing digital OOH assets at airports means there hasn’t been a better time to be smarter in how you engage consumers. Through smarter media planning & creativity we are able to say the right thing, at the right time, to the right people. The importance of this approach will be our main focus at the Virtual Travel Retail Expo.

*Talon Outdoor division Plexus is a Partner at the inaugural Virtual Travel Retail Expo, which takes place on 12-16 October. Click here for more information or to register.

Going big on partnership with the Estée Lauder brand

About Plexus

Plexus is The Talon Group’s international division and is among the leading buyers of airport media around the world, working with clients such as SAP, HSBC, Google, Enterprise, Diageo and Beats. The team is connected through over 20 Talon & partner offices around the world, enabling the company to plan, buy and execute client campaigns in over 75 markets worldwide. Plexus focuses on all OOH environments and products ranging from roadside, transit, malls and point of sale. Go to for more.

Managing Partner Adrian Skelton says: “Our independence, breadth of experience and technical expertise allow us to build a bespoke approach for our clients’ specific needs. Our ‘Smarter as Standard’ philosophy is the north star for building our approach and response to every brief. This ensures we deliver highly effective and efficient solutions driven by best in class client service and operational excellence.”

As noted above, The Talon Group will take part in the inaugural Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo. It is offering US$100,000 of free airport media space to one lucky client that visits its stand, and will provide free creative services for a new campaign through its Grand Visual team.

Partner's message


The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 283 | 16 September 2020

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 12 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail

Share this article: