From Lincoln to Abbey Road – an outdoor media trip

Abbey Road TfL NoticeLast night, Daniel Day-Lewis deservedly won the Best Actor BAFTA for his portrayal of President Lincoln.  Indeed, 150 years ago this year, Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg (“four score and seven years ago”) address during the American Civil War.  Closer to home, 1863 was also quite a year as two iconic English brands were born.  The Football Association laid out a set of rules, which were first followed in a match between Barnes and Richmond (0-0 draw) and the very first journey on the London Underground took place between Paddington and Farringdon.

For what is a truly remarkable feat of Victorian engineering, we moan about the Tube a lot.  We moan when they are late, on strike or when someone jumps in front of one.  We moan when people force their way on before you have a chance to get off.  We moan when people don’t move down the carriage to let people on or when the closing doors are squeezed open.  But we smile when we read one of those Poems on the Underground or when the driver has a sense of humour.  We feel good when the elderly or pregnant are offered a seat or an 80s pop star breaks into song.  We also marvel at the Harry Beck designed map that is so pleasing on the eye (personally, I’m more fascinated by the equivalent geographically accurate Tube map).

The London Underground is also a popular subject on social media.  A friend of mine tweets only about his transport frustrations and he is probably not the only one of @TfL’s 82,000+ followers to do this.  Nevertheless, brands must use social media as a way of connecting with their customers.  Shifting from social media to outdoor media, TfL received many positive comments (and retweets) concerning its Abbey Road poster at West Ham and pointing people across London to St John’s Wood and the other Abbey Road with the help of some Beatles songs in the text.  A fine example of wit and nostalgia wrapped up in public information.  And here is another anniversary: it was 50 years ago today when the Beatles recorded their first album, Please Please Me, in just one day.  This achievement is being celebrated on Radio 2 with some of today’s artists trying to replicate this amazing feat.

This year, well this month (26th February), sees the launch of POSTAR’s new out-of-home research on what will be another landmark for our media currencies and we will find out how many people are looking at advertising on the Underground.  I wonder what forms of media and advertising will be underground and overground in four score and seven years time.

John Carroll is Senior Director in Ipsos MediaCT and Chairman of the Media Research Group (follow John on Twitter @MediaCarroll)