Study: Humor works in outdoor

A sense of humor is helpful in any endeavor. And outdoor advertising is no exception.That is one of the conclusions of a new study from Mediacom and the University of Alberta.The study found, too, that two main forms of 'message transaction'...

A sense of humor is helpful in any endeavor. And outdoor advertising is no exception.

That is one of the conclusions of a new study from Mediacom and the University of Alberta.

The study found, too, that two main forms of ‘message transaction’ emerged from the research as having higher recall by the viewer.

The first of them, intrigue, relies on an intriguing visual or verbal image that is not immediately understood. It has wit and often relies on street smarts to induce a feeling of belonging.

Aesthetic/repetitive

Aesthetic/repetitive posters, the other main form of message transaction, will present a pleasing, evocative image or idea that is likely to be more dependent on visuals than words.

It may also be soothing to look at, or enjoyable to study its details, and could invite the viewer to daydream or fantasize.

Mediacom officially released the results of the study earlier this month.

The company provided the university with 327 recall studies culled from a database of 650 studies, providing a cross-section of all kinds of creative material produced between 1979-91.

The studies provided aided recall of advertising by sex, age, and, in some cases, by category users.

John Bilney, vice-president, creative director at Mediacom, says each ad was categorized in as many ways as possible.

Bilney says type size and style, copy length, color, media weight, and so on, were all noted for each advertisement.

The study says if humor were to be categorized as a separate form of message transaction, it would run a close second to intrigue.

But, it goes on, because humor also occurs in the aesthetic appeal category it can be seen to improve recall in both.

Literal

The study says the kind of poster advertising that makes little or no impact is the extremely literal type such as The Best Pizza in Town or Canada’s best-selling shoes.

Of the two preferred creative forms, intriguing posters gain the most attention in the short term, the study found, although if the key to the intrigue is either too obvious or too cryptic, the life of the poster may be much shorter than usual.

It seems in this category multiple executions of a strategy and relatively short posting times or more frequent circulation changes than usual might be more effective, the report says.

Aesthetic design can provide a more lasting image and benefit from a feeling of enhancing the environment, it says.

Bilney says an example of this is the black-and-white portrait series for The Gap retail stores that is found in transit shelters.

Two of the better known personalities featured in this series were singer Margo Timmins of The Cowboy Junkies and jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie.

Bilney says posters work in a number of ways, but adds they need to be considered in the context of their editorial environment.