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Published on December 21st, 2020 | by Ken Klein

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2020 Top Ten (Political Affairs)

Ken Klein OAAA Executive Vice President, Government Affairs


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1. Out of home media was considered essential business

State shutdown orders included lists of essential businesses that could/should continue to operate, such as this Executive Order from Connecticut’s Governor Ned Lamont:

New York State, responding to a query from Lamar Advertising Company, said the company’s business function was essential.

2. Out of home media delivered important public-health messages (paid and pro bono)

Twenty-six out out of home media companies posted a paid campaign sponsored by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); the multi-media campaign launched in August.

Nationwide, governors and mayors thanked the out of home industry for helping health authorities communicate with the public, in English and Spanish.

3. More OOH political ads than ever, showcasing all formats

Political poster, Florida

Political ads are a growth category for out of home media, up significantly from 2016 and 2018 according to Kantar tracking.

Out of home formats  displayed ideas and debate (e.g. Senator Mitt Romney is a hero/Mitt Romney should resign). With airwaves crowded with negative political ads that caused some voters to turn off their TVs, local supporters of Donald Trump and Joe Biden expressed their views on billboards from Eugene, OR, to Tampa, FL.

4. The cannabis category advances

Two states (Oklahoma and Washington State) rejected proposals to ban cannabis ads on billboards. When the pandemic hit, state government said cannabis is essential business. Click here to learn more in an article by Advertising Week 360.

On November 3, five more states voted to legalize pot in some form, including strong support for medical marijuana in Mississippi.

Pro-legalization ad in South Dakota

5. Environment: part of the solution

Fifty years after the original Earth Day (1970), the industry partnered with Earth Day Network during Climate Week 2020.
Denis Hayes, the principal organizer of Earth Day in 1970:  “Generations X, Y & Z live in a different world, a world of TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube. They are moved principally by images. Images have provided powerful vehicles to call attention to social injustice and the manifestations of the climate crisis.

To tap into the tremendous impact of imagery on this audience, a new campaign was kicked off during ‘Climate Week’ (in 2020). It features large-format digital billboards donated by OOH advertising companies and focuses on breathtaking photos that showcase the ‘essential workers’ of nature.” Click here to the full MediaPost article.

6. Responding to constitutional challenge

Tennessee enacted a new billboard law, responding to a constitutional (free speech) challenge. Look for other states will follow suit.

OAAA’s Kerry Yoakum testifies, Tennessee General Assembly committee, Nashville

7. Beware of the taxman

Legal challenges to targeted billboard taxes in Baltimore and Cincinnati migrated to the highest courts in Maryland and Ohio. These courts are focused on this question:  are billboards like newspapers and other media?

8. The enduring power of community service

When YESCO turned 100, US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) published a tribute to the company, which had sponsored Rubio’s youth football team in Las Vegas.

Wall projection at YESCO centennial gala, Salt Lake City, February 20, 2020

“As a former member of the Cavaliers youth football team, I am honored to recognize a special milestone of the sponsor of my team, the Young Electric Sign Company–YESCO. In 2020, YESCO celebrates its 100th year. In many ways, the story of YESCO is the story of America: innovation, invention, a restlessness to move beyond the status quo, and commitment to others,” Rubio said in remarks published in the Congressional Record. Click here to read the full article.

9. Part of our culture

Outstanding creative memorialized Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Congressman John Lewis, and others. Click here to read the full MediaPost article documenting OOH celebrating historic milestones.

From on-screen scenes in Jon Stewart’s political satire “Irresistible” and HBO’s “Perry Mason” series to promotion of Chelsea Handler’s comedy special, OOH media is a taproot of our culture. Click here to learn more about how irresistible OOH ads truly are…

10. Industry leaders in elective office

In Illinois, voters elected Kam Buckner of OUTFRONT Media to the state House, overwhelmingly.

Jena Powell of Huntington Outdoor Advertising was re-elected to Ohio House, with 76 percent. Martin Daniel (Elevation Outdoor) did not  seek re-election to the Tennessee Assembly. Thank you, Martin, for your service.

Kam Buckner and Senator Durbin (D-IL)



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