Old Media Makes a Comeback

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While most billboards I see these days are either blank, upside down or throwing a bible verse in my face, a recent billboard campaign in London is using outdoor media to its advantage. The #LookatMe campaign raises the issue of domestic violence, showing a woman whose face is bruised. The bruising goes away as more and more people look at the billboard, using facial recognition technology to measure viewers. The campaign is an effective metaphor by Women’s Aid for domestic violence, articulating the idea that just as increasing views of the billboard can reduce bruising, increasing advocates for reducing domestic violence can help fight the widespread problem.

In terms of mass media, I’m interested to see if in the near future traditional media like billboards are transformed with the use of technology in such a way that they become popular again. Dove launched an interactive billboard campaign last year, allowing passerby’s to text in votes on beauty issues and subsequently updating the billboard with responses. Traditional media, often called old media, is usually discussed as falling behind the new media opportunities created by the Internet. Perhaps this assumption underestimates the ability of traditional media to adapt. In the same way we discuss platforms like Facebook and SnapChat adapting to the ever-changing media environment, maybe old media is doing the same. By integrating interactive and digital tools, old media like this billboard have the potential to attract as much attention as new media.



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