CEO Spotlight: Candice Simons, Brooklyn Outdoor Advertising

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

This month, we introduce Candice Simons, Founder, President and CEO, Brooklyn Outdoor Advertising, Detroit, Michigan. U.S.

  1. Could you tell us your own background and why did you decide to focus on the Out-of-Home sector?

    I am currently the president and CEO of Brooklyn Outdoor and J’adore Detroit, a lifestyle blog – with the recent addition of Alley Taco (a restaurant) in Midtown. I grew up in Northville and went to Michigan State University for two years, graduating from DePaul University in downtown Chicago in 2006. After graduation, I had the pick of industries and interviewed for them all. The advertising industry found me and it’s been love ever since!

    I worked in Chicago for nearly a decade, before moving back to Detroit five years ago to bring my creative talents and fresh perspective on Out-of-Home advertising to my home state, resulting in the creation of Brooklyn Outdoor – now one of the most innovative and fastest growing outdoor advertising companies in the industry. Out-of-Home is my favourite format, naturally, as I’ve devoted my life and career to selling digital, static, and non-traditional OOH media formats.

    I love the flexibility and ‘can’t turn it off’ nature of OOH. I love how we get to flex our creative muscles and do really fun executions where we have the opportunity to be bold and outlandish to really capture our targeted audience in a meaningful way. We love to have fun and be connectors of brands and people. OOH is the perfect fit for us.

  2. Your website says that Brooklyn Outdoor is the only certified women-owned business with full national coverage. Was that your aim from Day One? Why? Do you intend to keep it that way?

    It was not my goal from the beginning and sort of happened on its own. It’s now a mission of mine to inspire and act as a role model for young women getting started in their careers or looking to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Not having known this would be my path and life’s work, I am so happy that it is and wouldn’t change it.

    The WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) has become a second family to us of support and knowledge. We are thrilled to be certified WBE.

  3. What special traits do you feel that women offer for working in the Out-of-Home industry?

    Women have a knack for juggling just about everything all at the same time: multitasking is key in OOH. Focus and determination is also another trait that we must have to be dominant and rise above the male-dominated layer in the C-Suite.

    We are really starting to turn the tables and become more of an equal opportunity industry. It’s because of these traits and the dynamic women that we have rising through the ranks that this is becoming possible.

  4. There doesn’t seem to be any form of outdoor media that Brooklyn Outdoor does not offer, but you have a relatively small staff. How do you manage that?

    Quality over quantity! The Brooklyn Outdoor team is a select group of powerhouse individuals. Everyone in the organization is a self-starter, independent, and driven intrinsically. It is essential to the business to have a competent team of trustworthy individuals. When employees are able to function autonomously, less time is spent on micromanaging and can be used more effectively elsewhere within the organization.

  5. Why the name Brooklyn Outdoor when you are based in Detroit? Does it cause confusion?

    I named my outdoor advertising agency Brooklyn Outdoor for a few reasons; My dog’s name is Brooklyn. He’s a little spunky Chihuahua mix that I rescued from a puppy mill. He has one pointed ear and one floppy ear and puts a smile on my face every time I see him. Rescuing Brooklyn gave him a better life and a chance to be himself – quirks and all.

    We are a personal group and love the authenticity of our family. We have hand painted murals and outdoor advertising locations in Brooklyn, NY. Brooklyn, as a borough of New York, is a lot like our team – slightly off center. It’s shiny in some places, gritty and unique in others. It has our vibe and it works for us.

  6. How many advertising faces do you offer in total? What percentage of them are digital? And what percentage of them are in Detroit?

    We have roughly 1,000 faces across the US, of which 15% are digital, with that number rising very quickly. We love digital and the flexibility of offers for our customers, so expect to see a lot more digital coming from us soon!  While Detroit is our HQ, our Digital Out-of-Home is spread out across the US in most of the major markets.

    We like to make sure we have a solid media mix with static and digital in our main markets so as to be able to provide the best campaign results across the board.

  7. Whose Content Management Software do you use for your digital screens, and why?

    Most of our digitals are run by the type of board that was purchased – so I’d say Watchfire Signs is the most common. We are currently building a custom software system and will be developing a custom API with Ayuda to manage.

  8. You have four divisions: Outdoor, Hand-Painted, Experiential Marketing, and now the new Events division. Why the latter? And is it only available in Detroit where you have a dedicated location for same?

    We keep developing divisions as the needs of our clients expand. Outdoor, Hand-painted, and Experiential are nationwide. Events is in Detroit at our HQ office: The Brooklyn Outdoor Loft. (We can do offsite, large-scale events, as well). Insider scoop: Look for a Media division coming next from us!

  9. Is your Brooklyn Outdoor Loft in the same building as your offices in Detroit? Is it being used often? Mainly for what activities?

    We work most days out of the Brooklyn Outdoor Loft unless it is booked for an event. The space functions as our office by day and an event space by night. A lot of our national, Fortune 100 clients utilize our space for corporate meetings, conferences, events, cocktail parties, VIP catered dinners, speaking events, panels, and more.

    It has really been a powerful inbound marketing tool for us. We also house a lot of non-profits and fashion/lifestyle events in relation to my lifestyle blog: j’adore Detroit.

  10. How many Digital Out-of-Home networks do you actually own as opposed to putting campaigns on those of other companies?

    We own and operate our digitals here in the Detroit market. In other markets, we represent independent digital networks.

  11. What kind of measurement is used on your digital properties?

    The majority of our digital plans are audited by Geopath.

  12. Brooklyn Outdoor offers hand-painted murals, and handle all permits, insurance and whatever else is needed for them. Is that unusual? For murals in other cities, do you use your favourite Detroit-based artists or do you use locals?

    Yes, this is what majority of Hand-Painted companies do, but some just offer the painters and have the media company or client directly handle the rest. We are a full-service firm and handle everything from beginning to end to ensure the most favourable experience for our clients. We typically try to stay local when it comes to our painters and artists. If we are painting in New York, we have our painters in NY handle the painting – same with Detroit.

    If we are doing a project in other markets where we do not have painters, we will bring our best Detroit team to handle the job. No job is too big!

  13. Does Brooklyn Outdoor locate the sponsors for many of your events or experiential marketing happenings?

    I would say it is a mix. For some of the events and experiential campaigns we work on, we just handle the build-out and another company handles the tour – or we handle it. We outline our responsibilities at the beginning of the project, so we are aware if sponsorship is needed and go from there. Again, we are full-service, so our capabilities are infinite.

  14. Detroit is the 13th largest DMA in the U.S. You have large Asian and Hispanic communities there, and your Arab population is, I understand, the third largest in the U.S.. How much advertising is done to them in their own languages by Brooklyn Outdoor? How do you handle that?

    Detroit is a super diverse market, so for the larger scale properties, we recommend a GM (general market) creative. When you start going deeper in the neighbourhoods, you’ll see specific language creative on posters typically, as there is not a lot of OOH in the neighbourhoods of Detroit at this time. Unlike other markets, the percentages of various populations are throughout the market as opposed to pockets as in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles.

  15. What are your plans for expansion?

    As mentioned earlier, you can likely expect to see a Media division coming from us. We spend a lot of time drilling down to the base level of our clients’ needs to fully understand them and how we can better assist them with those needs.

  16. What are your thoughts on Smart Cities?

    Smart cities enhance and promote liveability, workability and sustainability in our major cities, so we are all for that. We are working through how we can implement these trends in Detroit as effectively as possible at the moment.

  17. What are your views on the OOH/DOOH industry over the next two-to-three years and what trends are you seeing?

    I think the biggest trend overall is going to depend on how technology changes even further. We have truly been able to roll with the punches when it comes to OOH. At Brooklyn Outdoor, we have been and will continue getting down to a deeper level with our clients to really understand their needs and assist them in developing their ideas and campaigns, instead of just being told what they want.

    It’s becoming harder and harder to connect authentically with people, due to all the technology, so developing unique ways to do that with pairing OOH, Digital, and Experiential together has been and is a fun challenge.

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