Peter Brown poses the 2-seconds test

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Peter Brown – founder of K Rd agency Roycroft Brown – has taken up the cudgels on behalf of the humble street poster ad. “The key is the two-second test,” he says in a Q+A in the latest issue of Phantom Billstickers’ Phan Mail: “Does it convey the message quickly and clearly?”

Peter Brown spent five years studying architecture before realising he made a better art director, and then a further period at the ‘school of advertising’ (Ogilvy & Mather) before realising he made a better account director.

After stints in Sydney and London he joined Colenso BBDO in Auckland in 1994 as new business director. He went on to become general manager at Lowe and Draft FCB and now runs his own agency.

“Electronic media live in the ether – after 30 seconds they’ve been and gone.”

The brands he has stewarded include Vodafone, Honda, Tower Insurance, Placemakers, L’Oreal, Guinness, Stella Artois and BMW.

More than a few of these famous names have ended up on street posters. Why?

Here’s an extract:

In your opinion, what do street posters do especially well?
They have an immediacy that other media just don’t seem to have. When you’re on the street, out and about doing stuff, shopping, eating and socialising, a poster can connect when you least expect it.

Any thoughts on the future of posters in general, especially with digital becoming more important?
Electronic media live in the ether – after 30 seconds they’ve been and gone. By contrast, outdoor media have longevity, especially in the case of Phantom’s street posters, where you can target multiple and specific sites throughout the country.

Street posters also reach buyers while they’re on-the-hoof, rather than driving in busy traffic, so the advertiser has much more time and flexibility to convey the message and be creative with it.

Whilst digital adds impact and flexibility, the base tenet of a billboard or street poster still stands. It’s the two-second test: does it convey the message quickly and clearly?

Any examples of great poster campaigns that really nailed it?
Grand Theft Auto did a very impactful Wanted campaign that made you stop and read. And of course, the most recognisable and iconic poster of all time was the Uncle Sam and Lord Kitchener war recruitment poster.

The old Silk Cut cigarette posters are classic brand-builders, and any poster by Shepard Fairey also speaks volumes.

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