Page 24 - AdNews Magazine Jan-Feb 2021
P. 24

                 The Profile
pandemic as lockdown orders forced people indoors. Due to the dramatic impact it was having across the board, Cook’s depar- ture was prolonged to help the outdoor media specialist through the fallout.
While the year was tough, oOh! reported a “significant” revenue rebound for the fourth quarter of 2020 as outdoor audiences returned following the easing of restrictions. In a trading update in mid-December, it said road and retail outdoor audience volumes in November were tracking at 87 per cent of their 2019 levels, up from about 50 per cent in mid-April 2020. As a result of the audience recovery, the business is expecting full-year revenue of between $420 million to $430 million.
“We survived COVID-19,” he says. “Although I did laugh with someone the other day: lucky I didn’t do this a year earlier because it wouldn’t look very good on your resume if you didn’t have pandemic economic management.
“It made the GFC look like baby steps, to be quite frank with you.” While there have been many challenges, there have also been many highlights. During the years, oOh! and the Outdoor Network have worked across both head-turning and innova- tive campaigns that have had
huge impacts.
Some of Cook’s favourites
include a campaign for a fictitious beer called Haka Bitter that the Outdoor Network created with GOA Billboards to demonstrate the power of OOH. For spontaneous recall, Haka achieved seven per cent after one month on outdoor with a $25,000 investment. A few weeks prior, another beer brand, Powers Extra, launched in Brisbane using TV only. It only achieved a three per cent sponta- neous recall after one month despite a TV spend of $183,000.
Another campaign he recalls that highlighted the power of OOH was the controversial Longer Lasting Sex campaign from the Advanced Medical Institute which promised to help men with erectile dysfunction. While the campaign had run
“My family has been involved in that along the way because it's a big part of my life. I couldn't have asked for a better life in any career than what out-of-home has given me.”
across other media for a few years and flown under the radar, it caused an uproar as soon as it hit billboards where people finally noticed.
“That campaign had been running in print for two years and it went on 18 billboards and the phone rang off the hook,” he says. “What it proved was the power of billboards.”
In more recent times, one of Cook’s favourite campaigns was with Google. The multi-app campaign brought together audience, data, technol- ogy and creativity to deliver Google search and Google maps at scale across Australia. The creatives displayed how Google Search could help Australians discover their local food and drink options with the corresponding maps displaying relevant search results within proximity to the OOH locations.
“For me, that showed what automation is really about in out-of-home and how we have to scale to that level,” he says.
“And it also proved it’s not about the tech, it’s about the creative. The big area was getting the creative concept right; that you could scale up to get that contextuality. I think a lot of people only talk about program- matic with tech without thinking what the real answer is. How many people am I really reaching and is the creative going to drive a response based on what we know works?”
For Cook, aside from the work that oOh! has done, it’s the scale and size of the business he has built and the people he has worked with along the way that takes the cake.
“Being able to build the scale out of the business to where we are today is always a continuing highlight,” he says.
“Every year was full of excitement and lots of opportunities. Obviously the other best thing has just been people. Whether it be the advertisers and advertising agencies, or the property partners which are a big part of our business, and then of course the staff.
“It’s just been one of those journeys where it’s been pretty well my life. My family has been involved in that along the way because it’s a big part of my life. I couldn’t have asked for a better life in any career than what out-of-home has given me.”
So where to next for the outdoor media veteran? After a remarkable career at the forefront of the OOH industry moving at “Ferrari” pace, Cook admits he won’t be completely slowing to a halt. With new CEO and managing director Cathy O’Connor taking over the reins, Cook will move into a consulting role with the company throughout the course of 2021.
“I’m still consulting a day a week to oOh! and I’ve got a couple of advisory boards and other things that will be announced in February,” he says.
“I’m looking forward to working with a lot of entrepreneurial found- ers in lots of industries — a lot of tech and data — and working with them on their journeys.”
  Above: Noel Cook, oOH!media chief commercial and operations officer (left), and company founder Brendon Cook (right).

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