Glen Wilson on the future of outdoor advertising

Glen Wilson

Glen Wilson

With over 20 years' experience in the world of advertising, Glen Wilson currently holds the position of managing director at out-of-home communications agency Posterscope. During his career, Wilson has been involved in some of the best-loved and recognizable outdoor advertising campaigns, including Wonderbra's unforgettable 'Hello Boys'.

More recently, he's worked alongside iconic brands, such as Coca-Cola and Adidas, on billboard advertising for the London 2012 Olympics. And this week finds himself busy with the launch of Art Everywhere, a charitable art project that has transformed billboards and poster sites across the UK into great British masterpieces.

Here, he tells us his thoughts on successful advertising, why he loves it so much and the challenges for the future of outdoor advertising...

How did your career in advertising begin?

"I learnt much of what I know on the job; I started out in sales, which ultimately proved a perfect way to get a head start in the creative industries. I studied physical science and scientific computing, but advertising has always been my biggest passion - I've always been drawn to its perfect alchemy of magic and logic. Developing great ad campaigns requires an analytical mind, but also the ability to think creatively around client challenges."

What is about media that you enjoy so much?

"Out of Home advertising is the oldest medium in the world. It has a wonderful heritage coupled with a dynamic and innovative present, giving it infinite possibilities as a creative outlet. If you think it, you can do it, and there's something amazing about being part of something that people see on their own street corner. Working with different clients is also hugely rewarding and I get to create activity for brands that span every aspect of life, from bread to energy. Every day is different, varied and interesting."

How do you approach new projects?

"Each project is unique and that’s what makes working in advertising is so exciting. However, the key is research. I always do as much background research as possible. Creative work must be firmly rooted in research if it is to drive bottom-line value for the brand."

The key is research. I always do as much as possible

What's the best project you've worked on?

"The next project is always the best one! Every campaign is special but I will always feel particularly proud of the iconic 'Hello Boys' activity for Wonderbra. I worked with the legendary Trevor Beattie and the project has shaped my own strategic thinking. I learnt to be bold creatively and take risks, and never being afraid of doing something wrong. The development of a first-of-its kind innovations team at Posterscope was a direct result of this thinking."

Outdoor advertising

Glen Wilson worked on Wonderbra's 'Hello Boys' concept, which has since become one the most iconic underwear adverts of all time

Can the success of 'Hello Boys' ever be repeated or was it a one-off?

"'Hello Boys' was a visionary campaign because it was a disruptive idea - to take lingerie advertising outside the traditional environment of women magazines. There will be plenty of successful game-changing ideas in future, of course, but all executed in new ways that reflect the evolving ways people consume and interact with outdoor media."

What's the secret to a successful ad campaign?

"There is no secret formula. Sometime the wrong answer is the right one. However, a perfectly executed campaign, built on solid insight, is usually a good benchmark for success."

What three tips would you give to anyone thinking about career in advertising?

"Getting into advertising is a big challenge, but if you are passionate about it be resilient - don't give up. Never stop learning. Read as much as possible. We all have more tools than ever to easily access free information and I am constantly amazed when people are not well informed - there really is no excuse for it. Soak up everything that will make you an expert."

Outdoor advertising

Wilson worked on various outdoor advertising campaigns with iconic brands during the 2012 London Olympics, including this Team GB one for Adidas

How do you see the mix between traditional posters and digital alternatives evolving?

"There is no real distinction between traditional and digital posters, only the delivery mechanics are different. It is not about digital vs traditional. I strongly believe that excellence relies on how the two work together. We need to embrace a complementary approach, especially in a world of fragmented media."

Can new technology help outdoor advertising be targeted better?

"New technology is a delivery platform. Better data and better use of it is going to continually drive better targeting."

What are the challenges for the future of outdoor advertising?

"Attracting incremental business is one. But challenges always create an opportunity. Being able to truly adapt to the new world and evolving media landscape is driving innovation and we will see more and more game changing activity because of this."

Can you tell us about the Art Everywhere campaign?

"The idea of Art Everywhere was Innocent Drinks' co-founder Richard Reed's, and I was immediately captivated by the concept. We originally talked about it in 2011 and I basically badgered him to convince him that we could pull it off. I think it is a fantastic initiative; a very simple and original idea, which makes art accessible to everyone. It is a celebration of art and the outdoor medium, which adds aesthetic value to our urban landscape."

Outdoor advertising

Art Everywhere turns the city of London into the world's largest art gallery

The Art Everywhere exhibition runs from 12-25 August 2013.

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