There was hoopla on a grand scale at Clear Channel's "Outfront" presentation in New York two weeks ago, but the message was simple: Consumers away from home see billboards, listen to radio or attend events where advertising signage is all around, and Clear Channel is in all of those businesses in a big way.
Roughly 1,000 advertising executives showed up at New York's Ford Theater. Much of the 21/2-hour "event" was taken up by the pre-presentation breakfast/schmooze-fest, as well as warm-up banter by Clear Channel radio personalities Rick Dees, Rush Limbaugh and Carson Daly.
The cast of Broadway's The Producers
did a number from the musical ("I Want To Be a Producer"), and futurist Watts Wacker chimed in with some thoughts about how much more mobile we are as a society these days. And then there was pop star Jewel, subbing for no-show Mariah Carey and singing a handful of new and old tunes.
But the big take-away was the 15- to 20-minute presentation by Don Howe, president of Clear Channel Advantage, the company's cross-platform sales unit. The crux of his pitch basically came down to what he called "the whale chart," based on its shape. The chart, based on Simmons and Nielsen Monitor-Plus data, showed that, for about eight hours a day, close to 70% of all adults 25-54 are away from home (most of them, presumably, tending to their day jobs). And, for about 12 hours a day, at least 50% of that crowd still isn't home. For most of that 12-hour stretch, the percentage of the 25-54 demo sitting at home watching TV hovers at a little above 10%.
Here's the disconnect, according to Howe: Advertisers spend around $10 billion a year on out-of-home media trying to reach the 70% who are out and about tending to their daily lives. But they spend $90 billion trying to reach the much smaller couch-potato crowd at home with the tube on (whether they're actually watching and listening is a whole different story).
"While national advertisers are devoting the vast majority—if not all—of their media spending on vehicles that are almost exclusively home-based like TV, consumers are living their lives and making purchase decisions predominantly in the 'gone-from-home' space," Howe told his audience.
Not that there's anything wrong with advertising on TV, he said (Clear Channel itself owns 36 TV stations around the country). It's just not the be-all and the end-all. "TV is just part of the picture. While attention to the characteristics of who we target remains critically important, it is incumbent upon all [advertisers] to start paying closer attention to where consumers spend their waking hours."
By doing so, he said, advertisers may find the "missing link to reversing the declining impact of today's media plans."
Clear Channel's "Gone-From-Home Network" is part of the solution, Howe said. It comprises more than 1,200 radio stations; 935 Web sites; 150,000 outdoor, transit and street displays throughout the U.S.; and sponsorship opportunities connected to 76 entertainment venues and many thousands of live events (29,000 in 2002) that the company produces each year.
"It's time to face today's transformed business realities," he advised advertisers, "and rethink traditional approaches to make lasting connections between your brands and your consumers."