Lexus Outdoor Advertising – Smart Billboards

Arens et al (2009) describes outdoor advertising, or out-of-home media, as a broad category of media which reaches prospects outside their homes, such as through bus and taxicab advertising, subway posters, billboards, and so on. There are many media and creative considerations for developing outdoor advertising in order to increase its effectiveness.

In terms of creative execution, Arens et al (2009), Lamar (2014), Adstruc (2012), The Hangline (2011) and Suggett (n.d.) all mutually agree that the recommended maximum for outdoor copy is seven words, as outdoor ads are often fleeting messages. Arens et al (2009), Lamar (2014) and The Hangline (2011) also indicate that simple typefaces should be used as opposed to ornate, overly bold and overly thin typefaces to increase legibility, and spacing between letters and words should be increased to increase readability. Contrasting colours should also be implemented in order to reduce the ‘blurring’ effect.

In terms of media considerations for effective outdoor advertising, The Hangline (2011) and Suggett (n.d.) both advise that outdoor advertising, particularly media like billboards, is not always the place for a call to action or direct response. The Hangline (2011) also indicates that every ad should have a clear and directed target audience. Finally, all sources emphasise the significance of being creative in execution in order for the ad to resonate with the audience.

Image Source: APN Outdoor (2015)
Image Source: APN Outdoor (2015)

In January 2015, M&C Saatchi in collaboration with APN Outdoor and TMS developed a campaign around using smart billboards for Lexus (APN Outdoor, 2015).

The billboard pictured above was one of the 5 billboards positioned in high traffic areas within Australia’s major cities. The billboard used a specially designed system with cameras to recognise the make, model and colour of cars that drove under the billboard, and displayed personalised messages to other luxury car drivers on the road encouraging them to trade up to a Lexus NX Crossover (APN Outdoor, 2015).

In many aspects, Lexus’ digital billboard as pictured above aligns with the industry established guidelines for developing effective outdoor ads. The colour contrast of the predominantly black and white ad is effective and in line with industry guidelines; there is no direct call for action in terms of phone numbers or websites; there is a clear target audience, as the ad only displays personal messages to drivers in luxury vehicles (Karras, 2015); and finally, many advertising practitioners have reviewed this as an innovative and uniquely targeted digital billboard. MDG Advertising (2015) states that “while people expect personalized messages while on the Web or in promotional emails, the use of this targeting on outdoor ads elevates the technology to a brand new level.” Micallef (2015) quotes Adrian Weimers, Lexus Australia Corporate Manager, Sales and Operations, as saying that “being able to target the competitor and have a bit of fun with it is brilliant.” Campaign Brief (2015) and Aquilina (2015) both indicate that this billboard is simply an excellently executed innovative ad, and the first of it’s kind within Australia.

However, while the ad is cleverly targeted, innovative and effectively positioned in strategic high traffic areas of major Australian cities, one major misalignment with established industry guidelines is that the amount of words within the ad exceeds 7, and the spacing between lines of text are possibly too close together for words in capital letters. The readability of the ad could be perceived as low, and it’s possible drivers may not be able to read the entire ad within the given exposure time due to the amount of words.

In essence, Lexus’ digital billboard is almost a prime example of effective outdoor advertising, and further considerations and alignments with industry guidelines would have increased the ad’s effectiveness.


Adstruc. (2012). How To Create An Effective Outdoor Ad. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Adstruc:

APN Outdoor. (2015, January 20). Australia’s smartest billboards talk to motorists for Lexus via M&C Saatchi, APN Outdoor and TMS. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from APN Outdoor:

Aquilina, S. (2015, January 20). Lexus interactive billboards: ‘direct messaging on steroids’. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Marketing Mag:

Arens, W. F., Schaefer, D. H. & Weigold, M. (2009). Essentials of Contemporary Advertising (2nd ed.). New York, USA: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Campaign Brief. (2015, January 19). Australia’s smartest billboards talk to motorists for Lexus via M&C Saatchi, APN Outdoor + TMS. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Campaign Brief:

Karras, J. (2015, March 4). LEXUS Billboard OOH Casestudy [Video File]. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Youtube:

Lamar. (2014). Design Tips. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Lamar Advertising:

MDG Advertising. (2015, April 11). Lexus Outdoor Advertising Goes High-Tech Down Under. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from MDG Advertising:

Micallef, R. (2015, January 18). Smart outdoor gets smarter: Lexus targets competitor cars. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from AdNews:

Suggett, P. (n.d.). The Six Basic Rules of Billboard Advertising. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from About – Advertising:

The Hangline. (2011, January 24). The 10 Commandments of Outdoor Advertising. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from The Hangline:


Domino’s Pizza Unique Selling Proposition

Mark Pollard, Managing Partner of Leo Burnett New York, positions Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) as the sixth step within the account planning process. He describes the USP as “the guts of your strategy” which “links and evolves the insight and brand truth in an interesting way” (Pollard, 2009). Pollard (2009) comments that the USP is not a tagline, however, it is a tool for the creative team to explore and create with clear direction of the brand’s position. Often, a tagline or slogan is created from the USP.

Queensland Government (2014) state that the significance of a strong USP is that it helps “to establish your competitive advantage – the edge you have over your competition.” Ascot (2011) explains the difficulty product and service companies have in differentiating themselves from their competitors by giving the example that when a potential customer wants to ship a package overnight, they have already decided to ship the package. The question is, “which shipping company?” This is where a strong USP is crucial, as it “defines the company’s position in the market” (Ascot, 2011), and gives the potential customer a clear understanding of why they should use that company.

One notable example of an impactful USP is Domino’s Pizza’s Proposition, which states: “made-to-order hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less – guaranteed” (Coleman & Prisco, 2006). What Coleman & Prisco (2006) note is clever about Domino’s USP is that no reference to the quality of the product is made. This set the pizza delivery company apart from its competitors, who traditionally advertised with a basic message that their pizza tastes best. Cheng (n.d.) explains that Domino’s USP is ultimately an operational proposition, where the entire company changed it’s operations in order to comply with this new proposition. The traditional dining areas were removed from Domino’s stores, and smaller spaces closer to residential areas were acquired to fit a kitchen in order for the timeframe aspect of the USP to be achievable.

Referring back to Pollard’s (2009) idea that the Proposition is composed of both the insight and brand truth, we can apply this to Domino’s USP. It is clear from Cheng’s (n.d.) article that Domino’s realised their pizza was not significantly different to any other pizza store in the area, so instead of focusing their USP on the product itself, they turned it to their service; delivery. This became a practical benefit to the potential customer; of which the targeted market segment slightly changed in a psychographic and behavioural way. Domino’s no longer sought out customers who wanted a dine-out experience, but those who didn’t have the time to cook or go out. It was then the concept of ‘time’ became the unique and motivating aspect of the brand truth; customers would get hot pizza in 30 minutes – guaranteed.

In essence, it’s significant to note that the multi-billion dollar company’s success can be attributed to Domino’s “deliberate decision to be operationally different from day one,” (Cheng, n.d.) which came from the changes required to fulfill their USP.


Ascot, D. (2011). How to develop a bulletproof Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – Part 1. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Marketing Results:

Cheng, V. (n.d.). Unique Selling Proposition vs. Market Differentiation. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Victor Cheng:

Coleman, H. W., & Prisco, S. (2006). UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITIONS. (cover story). Electrical Wholesaling , 87 (11), 64-72.

Pollard, M. (2009). How to do account planning – a simple approach. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Mark Pollard:

Queensland Government. (2014). Create your unique selling proposition. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Business and Industry Portal:

Toyota Product Placement

In 2014, Toyota was ranked “the most valuable automotive brand worldwide for the 11th straight year in Interbrand’s new ranking of the 100 Best Global Brands” (Buss, 2014). As a leading global brand, Toyota keeps its brand image and promotion as a top priority, spending a reported $US2.09 billion on advertising alone (Taube, 2014). Traditionally, the Toyota brand was perceived as sturdy, reliable and practical, however, on the verge of the release of the Matrix in 2002, Toyota sought to alter the consumer perception of the brand (Institute of Communication Agencies, 2003). Jez Frampton, global CEO of Interbrand, said that automakers have realised the need to “build strong brands for the future” and “reposition themselves in slightly different ways” (Buss, 2014) in order to survive the demands of the changing consumer. In response, Toyota utilised product placement as a platform for repositioning their brand, and removing connotations of ‘just practicality’ from Toyota products.

Chang et al (2009) identify three types of product placement processes; Serendipitous, Opportunistic and Planned product placement. Planned product placements are those that occur due to an agreement between an entertainment or production company and a product or service brand. In 2001, Toyota engaged in an agreement with Vivendi Universal to be the official car of Universal Studios in order to maximise their now Planned product placement opportunities in repositioning Toyota brand perceptions.

For example, Toyota cars were largely seen in The Fast and the Furious (2001) and its sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), both very successful films (Dickenson, 2006). The hero of the Toyota representatives was the Toyota Supra, which appeared in a drag race scene in the first film. Wasko (2003) identifies three techniques for product placement being visual, spoken and usage. Turcotte (as cited in Wasko, 2003, p. 155) indicates that when the usage technique is employed, often visual and spoken techniques are also incorporated, which is true for Toyota this example. The Supra is driven by two of the leading characters who race against a Ferrari in an epic and illegal street racing scene, and ultimately win in modest style (Khan, 2010). Visual placement is used as the Toyota brand can be observed; spoken placement occurs as the characters identify the car they are driving; and usage placement occurs as the Toyota car is directly and obviously used as a prop.

Image source: Wikia, n.d
Image source: Wikia, n.d

It is likely that Toyota engaged in the deal with Vivendi Universal, and sought to appoint one of their products as the star of an action packed speed racing film, in order to effectively contemporise their brand image. This product placement sought to appeal to the younger consumer by rejecting associations of sturdy practicality and “allow consumers to see the “fun and dynamic” side of Toyota” (Adweek, 2001).

As a result of Toyota’s efforts to redefine the brand image, in 2002, Matrix sales beat the forecasts by 22%, as well as being “second in segment sales with 23.4% share of market” (Institute of Communication Agencies, 2003). In summary, Toyota utilised the agreement as an experiment with non-traditional advertising where the outcomes were advantageous for both Toyota and Vivendi Universal.


Adweek. (2001, July 31). Universal, Toyota Join Forces. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Adweek:

Buss, D. (2014, October 16). Toyota Leads ‘Best Global Brands,’ But Audi, VW, Nissan Rise Most. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Forbes:

Chang, S., Newell, J., & Salmon, C. T. (2009). Product placement in entertainment media. International Journal of Advertising, 28 (5), pp. 783-806.

Dickenson, B. (2006). Hollywood’s New Radicalism. London: I.B.Tauris.

Institute of Communication Agencies. (2003). Toyota Matrix. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Warc:

Khan, A. (2010). The Fast and the Furious(2001) Ferrari vs Toyota Supra DRAG RACE [Video File]. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from

Taube, A. (2014, June 26). The 12 Companies That Spend The Most On Advertising. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Business Insider Australia:

Wasko, J. (2003). How Hollywood Works. London: SAGE Publications Inc.

Wikia. (n.d). Toyota Supra. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Wikia – The Fast and the Furious: