walk on the wild side
Posting your client around construction sites
By Kathy Prentice
down any street in any city, and if you find a construction site you're
just as likely to find the plywood walls surrounding the site covered with
posters for everything from movies and plays to ads for canned soup. These
are called wild postings, perhaps from their origin over a century ago,
when circuses began putting them up to announce their arrival.
Over the past 20 years wild postings have evolved from
posters slapped up in the dead of night, often without regard for zoning
restrictions and site ownership, to carefully choreographed campaigns
posted on custom-built displays.
The new campaigns often attempt to capture the feel of
the old wild postings. Poster
sizes, materials and placement are designed to replicate the erstwhile
out how it all works, read on.
This is one in a Media Life series on how to buy the
new out-of-home venues. They
paper posters that are plastered on temporary barriers and other surfaces
at construction sites.
There are several media
companies placing wild postings. Here are two that handle campaigns on a
headquartered in Atlanta.
Marketing Adventures in
Redondo Beach, Calif.
How it works:
Creative is usually
provided by the advertiser.
Short and sweet works best, as well as lots of color, says Marketing Adventures
President Bruce Friedlander, “just like with
Photographs are sometimes used in ad copy.
include their web addresses, sometimes on postings that simply display the
display the posters repetitiously in rows or blocks is a design factor.
“The impact is better when there are several in a row,” says
Kim Barnard, a media supervisor with Wilkins.
“Keep the creative simple, bunch them together, and it pretty much
jumps out at you.”
National brands most commonly utilize wild postings,
but some regional and local advertisers also use them.
The advertising goal can be
branding or promoting an event or new product.
Larger markets typically offer space designed and
reserved for wild postings. Some properties are built specifically to
display wild postings, and some construction timelines are extended to
accommodate longer ad campaigns. Waiting periods for prime locations,
especially in the New York market, can be several months.
Many mid-size markets still operate guerrilla-style.
“In markets like Cleveland they may post on the side of a
building, and there may or may not be a formal agreement with the owner,”
Barnard says. “If they run
into a problem they’ll get an agreement or re-post at another
Wild postings are often
available where other media, like billboards, are not.
the beauty of wild posting,” Friedlander says.
“It draws eyes to where they may not see other outdoor.”
Media companies work with advertisers on creative and
marketing. Wild posting
companies like N.P.A. (National Promotions & Advertising) in Los
Angeles are then contracted with to install and later remove the posters.
In large markets where zoning restrictions are in
place, the wild
posting company takes care of securing permits.
Exclusivity would be difficult to accomplish with wild
postings. Specific locations, such as a certain intersection in Manhattan or
Los Angeles, are too narrowly defined for a guaranteed buy.
“There might be 90 to 120 locations in a market,” Barnard says.
“You can’t cherry pick, but you can get pretty specific with posting
instructions, even though they can’t guarantee you’ll get them. It
depends on how many advertisers are up that week.”
Barnard works closely with the posting companies to target the
locations that her advertisers request.
She also advises advertisers to try to reserve locations that are
side by side to create a block of posters.
Wild postings aren’t well accepted in all major
markets. Pedestrian-friendly cities are the best locations.
Posting locations within markets change frequently
because of the temporary nature of construction projects.
Short runs, usually one to two weeks, are typical for
There are no seasonal factors in posting paper because
of the short duration of the campaigns. Postings are often displayed beneath under-hangs or
ledges to avoid weather damage.
Nonetheless, the paper posters are replaced each week or two, even
when the run is longer, because of normal wear and tear.
Another reason for brief posting periods is the ripoff
factor. They are easily
removed. When necessary, the posting companies re-post during the
Wild postings are occasionally used as a stand-alone medium
and work best when posted in large numbers at several
locations. Friedlander recommends a month-long showing for stand-alones,
rather than the standard one to two weeks.
Wild postings are most often used as an element
in larger outdoor or mixed-media campaigns.
Some advertisers use this opportunity to tie creative
into the street setting or larger campaigns using the same or similar
color schemes, slogans or teasers.
“Your wild postings can relate to other ads you see
on the street or on TV,” Friedlander says. “It works best if tied to
similar artwork or as a smaller version of something that already exists.
The colors will catch eyes as they go by.”
They’re also used as teaser ads, posted with a
message or question that’s answered on a nearby billboard or in the next
rotation of postings. Similar
color schemes and logos link the elements of the campaign.
Posters are pasted on fences, scaffoldings, walls and
barricades erected at construction sites, as well as on partially completed
buildings and at renovation sites. Building
larger fencing or scaffolding that’s required for a construction site in
order to accommodate larger wild postings is becoming common.
In some locations marquees or walls are constructed
specifically for wild posting.
low to the ground, fitted out with facings like a billboard,”
Friedlander says. “They
still look guerrilla.”
In some large urban
locations building renovation or construction is started and then put
on hold to accommodate lucrative wild posting campaigns.
Poster sizes vary from 24 by 36 inches to 28 by 40 inches, to
32 by 45 inches to 45 by 45 inches. Posters can be posted horizontally or
According to Marketing Adventures’ Friedlander, the
24 by 36 inch posters offer the most versatility.
“They’re my personal
preference because you want to put as many in an area as you can to have
the biggest impact. You can
paste up blocks of four. The
smaller ones conform to all different sizes and shapes of space.”
Pasted up randomly, the posters are most effective when
displayed in clusters.
Billboard-size displays are sometimes posted,
especially at West Coast locations. But they tend to run into more zoning
When giant wild postings
are displayed they are made of weather- and graffiti-resistant material
and generally are up for several weeks or months.
Wild postings are available
in the top 50 markets.
In major metro areas the postings tend to be tightly
regulated by local zoning rules and by site owners.
The postings aren’t prohibited but prior permission and payment
are generally required.
In mid-sized markets postings are often pasted up at
construction sites without prior permission and then moved if a problem
The size of the market doesn’t necessarily reflect
the success of wild postings. For
instance, the posters don’t do well in Dallas but are popular in San
Francisco, a smaller market. The
quantity of foot traffic is considered to be a factor.
Wild postings tend to do best in large urban markets
that have pedestrian traffic. They’re now a staple in areas like Times
Suburban and upscale residential areas usually don’t
tolerate wild postings.
How measured? Like most of
the new out-of-home venues, circulation can’t be measured by traditional
methods like traffic counts. Because
of their size it’s estimated that wild postings don’t reach as many
drivers and passengers as billboards do, but due to location they
reach more pedestrians.
“You have to believe in the medium and go for it,”
Barnard says. “We did a lot of research to see how effective they are.
What we’ve found is that our clients are very happy with them.”
Wilkins requires proof-of-performance reports from the
poster placement companies for each campaign.
The booklet format report gives locations and numbers within
What product categories do
well? Entertainment events, specifically circuses,
were some of the first advertisers to use wild postings a century ago.
Then movies brought them back into
vogue in Los Angeles in the mid-seventies when studios sought a fresh
approach to advertising their premieres.
The idea quickly spread eastward.
Today entertainment still tops advertisers on wild postings
promoting concerts, movie releases, new CDs, special events, and yes, still
announcing that the circus is coming to town.
Clothing, electronics, finance companies,
computers, internet, automobile dealers, retail and restaurants also appear on
Even dot.coms are investing in wild postings while
they’re withdrawing from other advertising campaigns during their recent
All categories, except tobacco, should do well on wild
postings, Friedlander says.
“I haven’t seen cat litter yet,” he says.
“But who knows? Maybe
Geographic targeting is
possible on a broad basis. For
instance, an advertiser can request posting within a financial or retail
Factor in pedestrian traffic, advises Barnard.
“For instance, music clients will use postings in areas where
people are walking to catch night life.”
Making the buy:
Lead time is ideally one month from the receipt of
creative to posting.
Production can be handled by the advertiser or by
Wilkins. Production costs are separate. Poster size, quantity and
markets are factors that affect pricing.
Manhattan is the most expensive market, followed by Los
Angeles, which is typical of out-of-home in general.
Manhattan prices range from $8,000 to $20,000 for a two-week run of 2,500 posters placed in 90
to 120 locations, to $16,000 to $40,000 for four weeks.
Cleveland costs $2,000 to $5,000 for a two-week run
with 375 posters placed in 20 to 30 locations.
The price goes up to $3,500 to $9,000 for 625 pieces placed in 20
to 40 locations for four weeks.
Horizontal postings cost an additional 25 percent.
Lead time involves two factors: production time and
space availability. Three
weeks is standard from the point creative is in hand until posting.
The time frame is longer, obviously, if markets aren’t
immediately available. Almost
any market can be guaranteed with two months lead time, Friedlander says.
Factors that affect pricing are markets, quantity and
poster size. For
1,500 24 by 36 inch posters placed for two weeks in Manhattan the cost
would be around $8,000, while the same run in Cleveland would cost $1,800.
Production and installation costs are included.
Wild postings originated in the
Nineteenth century, faded in and out during
the Twentieth, and have been revived on a larger-than-ever scale in
Who’s already on wild
Major League Baseball, Infogrames, Calvin Klein, American Express, Gap and
What they’re saying:
“It looks urban. It looks
guerrilla. Really, in most cases, the places you see these things posted
– facades, scaffolding – are rented from the landlord.
They’re very legit, but it looks like they’re not.” – Bruce
Friedlander, Marketing Adventures president
Web site info:
Wilkins Media Company at www.wilkins-media.com
Marketing Adventures at www.adsoutdoor.com
-Kathy Prentice writes about out-of-home advertising for Media Life, penning
her stories from the resort town of Traverse City, in the upper reaches of
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