To get you all slowly back into work mode after last week’s short break, and of course before this week’s New Year celebrations here’s our look back on some of the best, we think, that 2008 had to offer.
This list, in no particular order, was compiled along with all of our contributors and like all ‘best of’ rankings it is no way scientific. Enjoy…
- InfoComm. In a year that saw lots of kiosk events all of a sudden become digital signage shows (many with disastrous results) and a year that saw lots of hangers on enter the market and try and make a quick ‘buck’ surely the best event was InfoComm 2008 in Las Vegas in June. Whilst ISE, Amsterdam and Screen Expo Europe – even back to back in the calendar were good and even though InfoComm was far from being signage specific with 34,000 AV attendees, a nice location and the big majority of the top ten signage vendors in attendance it was really good and can only get better as it puts more focus on digital signage and digital out of home. We are really looking forward to the event in Orlando in 2009.
- Step Brothers. There were a hell of a lot of good digital campaigns this year – many were adaptations of TV or billboard creative but often done with skill and flair that the industry should be proud of. We loved the simplicity of the Evening Standard headlines carrried on CBS Outdoor’s London Underground – especially the countdown to the London Mayoral elections and saw equally good campaigns across the globe. Our favourite however was a film trailer for the Step Brothers, shown here on a Pattison Outdoor digital 6-sheet in a Canadian Mall. The trailer was obviously filmed purposely and Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly who star in the film, simply turn to face each other – very eye-catching especially as the audience were typically not expecting such a simple ‘animation’ / piece of movement.
- Google App Integration. In an industry where many software vendors claim 10 – 20 years of heritage, we feel that innovation has long fallen by the wayside. As we used to say at Intel, it’s like an employee who has been with a company for 10 years – do they have 10 years of experience or 10 lots of 1 year’s experience!!!! Most of the innovation has been with user interaction, mobile phone connectivity etc but that hasn’t normally been carried out by those we would deem as digital signage software vendors. We like what the signagelive folks are doing at the moment (but haven’t yet announced we think) with SalesForce but best of all this year was Coolsign’s integration with a number of Google applications
- WalGreen’s Spectacular. New LiteLogic screens on sides of buses, really impressive digital 6-sheets all over the place, 100+ inch LCDs and Plasmas seemingly everywhere, tiled iTrans in Harrods (albeit temporarily), Ocean Outdoor’s giant LED in Liverpool, the Ströer Megaposter in Berlin (which is particularly impressive but can only be seen at night. Our favourite had to be though WalGreen’s Spectacular in New York though it has been a year where there has been a lot to choose from.
- OVAB Media Summit. We covered the OVAB Media Summit in October in some detail – in fact in more detail than we have probably covered any other event before (it may in fact set our standard for coverage in 2009, starting with ISE DOOH Business Conference in February) and as luck would have it (or was it good planning) this coverage coincided with what many (including ourselves) described as a ‘Game-Changer’. OVAB and now OVAB Europe will undoubtedly go from strength to strength in 2009 and we just a need a few more of these sorts of events – rather than the usual conference where no-one actually ever gets told anything useful.
- Guinness World Record. All kinds of projection made a name for itself in 2008 and there were simply lots that we saw and liked. The folks at the Ministry of Experience in London did the best job of keeping us abreast of what they were up to and by the sheer numbers of ‘heads up’ they gave us on (usually) Kinetic campaigns we managed to report on nearly all of them ACTUALLY as they happened. The geek in us almost made us vote the giant Dalek smashing through Battersea Power Station as this year’s best BUT that would have been unfair to the work done in Quebec by Robert Lepage and Ex Machina AND soon, we believe, to be in the Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Projection. A deserved winner.
- Charitable Causes. We had the most fun in our role, pretending to be media planners and buyers in June, July and August when pro bono we made our annual effort for Macmillan Cancer Support in support of the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. We (still) can’t thank enough the UK digital out of home sector who so generously donated air time for this worthy cause and have really taken this cancer charity to its heart.
- Harrods. Despite the credit crunch and the recession we have as we have written many, many times seen some really good retail installations this year. As we explained ‘Retail Theatre’ has become the new thing and the opening of a flagship store anywhere in the world is not complete without sound and vision and more often than not a big screen or projection in the window. Some of these flagship stores, in our opinion, came close BUT the best retail installation by far is still Harrods! It was the best when it was first conceived and deployed, with screens being built into the fixtures and working with, rather than against the architecture and it has been kept up to date with lots of innovation (floor and wall projections spring to mind) and more than that they haven’t been frightened of trying out new technology (being on the leading edge) and discarding if not right for them or using if it fits.
- Virtual Bartender. As we predicted ‘branded fixtures’ have been good business for signage companies in 2008 – good examples have been Adflow Networks’ Koodo in-mall pop-up store and signagelive’s Estee Lauder retail unit but our favourite by a long way was Diageo’s Virtual Bartender – very simple, probably a little tacky but somehow it seems to work.
- Free Wi-Fi. Most countries of the world have a lot of catching up to do with the US in terms of offering (what we think should always be free) complimentary Wi-Fi but in the UK at least we can now thank McDonalds and Pret for both offering the weary traveler / businessman / student free Internet access. In our industry Cityspace deserve much credit for offering free wi-fi at St Pancras station though – something we have been actively encouraging the big outdoor folks to offer (when they deploy digital billboards for example) for sometime now
- Virtual Shop. This has been the year that retailers have realised that they have to innovate (see all of our mentions of ‘Retail Theatre’ in 2008) in order to survive especially on the High Street and especially in sectors where online purchase is easy (CDs, Books, DVDs etc.) and we have seen a number of agencies like Arsenal Media (Canada), MediaZest (Europe) and Pixel Inspiration (UK) win a great deal of good business by understanding this and helping the retailers creatively implement technology to help them. MediaZest’s Barclays Premier Banking installs for the Euro 2008 soccer championships was particularly good and we have seen the likes of Monster Media follow up that sort of work in Harrods with floor projections also. However our favourite in 2008 was easily Cityscape Media’s Virtual Shop – the crowds gathering whenever this is first deployed is testament itself to a really innovative concept.
- Digital Escalators. We have written many times before, even though they are good, on how we feel that CBS Outdoor’s DEPs get far too much of the publicity in the UK. By far our favourite digital escalator panel anyway is the Digital Escalator Crown at the MTR Station, Hong Kong put together by JCDecaux Digital Vision. It’s modern, clean, tidy and the use of the vinyl ‘wrap’ as well as the digital screens is simply inspired. If you are going to do DEPs this is surely how to do them.