A Lesson from Drake and “The 6”: The Connection Between OOH Advertising and Social Media

A Lesson from Drake and “The 6”: The Connection Between OOH Advertising and Social Media

Mark Young, Former Contributor

Back in September, I wrote an article discussing the connection between OOH (out-of-home advertising, like billboards) and word-of-mouth (social) activity. In the post, we examined the performance of a mysterious billboard – one that provided barely any information, but went viral almost instantly.

People from the city of Toronto starting sharing pictures of the billboard across Twitter, Instagram, and other social channels, with the wonder of what it could possibly mean. As social channels started to buzz about the unit, mainstream media started to pick up on it as well, and the mysterious billboard was suddenly being talked about on sites like Time and Spin.

Who was behind the billboard? Drake.

What’s so interesting about this example is that it shows there is a very real connection between OOH value and social buzz. One truly can generate activity for the other. Yet, if my experience in marketing at Clear Channel Outdoor taught me anything, it’s that this is a hard connection to quantify.  

Can I Get an Encore, Do You Want More

Despite the challenges in measurement, however, success is success and Drake and Clear Channel are at it again – this time significantly ramping up efforts with an entire series of billboards across Toronto, Drake’s hometown (aka “The 6”).

Timed to strategically align with the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, media would be showcased front and center at one of Canada’s premier star-studded events (an event Drake also had a very big part of – Go Raptors!).

Just like the first time around, Clear Channel and Sysomos teamed up to analyze the effectiveness of this OOH push and how it translated on social media.

The Results

Round two was equally as impressive as round one, further cementing the value social can bring to advertisers looking to get added mileage out of their traditional media spend. The infographic below shows some of the highlights of our report.

Drake Views From The 6 Infographic

But what is it that made this campaign so effective? What made this such a viral sensation on social media? Let’s take a look at three key learnings.

Location, Location, Location

In this instance, location had a direct correlation to success. When the first Drake billboard was put up in November (round one), it was placed next to one of Canada’s busiest highways ensuring widespread visibility, but making it a tough location given it’s hard to snap a photo, write a tweet, or post to Instagram while driving (NOT recommended).

This time, the billboards were placed more strategically around Toronto, closer to pedestrian-concentrated areas like the direct rail links and the city’s two international airports).

The result: more buzz. Benefiting greatly from the expected influx of media, tourists, and celebrities for the week-long All-Star festivities, the number of times billboards were shared on social channels greatly exceeded the first time around.  

Drake Billboard Yonge & Dundas Square

Drake billboard Eaton Center

More Drake billboards

Unique Creative Pays Off

The creative itself also contributed to success. Its simplicity and ambiguous nature did wonders to pique the interest of viewers – getting them to talk about and share more on social – while increasing hype around Drake’s upcoming (and highly anticipated) release of his new album “Views from the 6.”

In fact, one of the major sentiment categories surrounding All-Star Week focused on the creative of this campaign. There’s a graphic design team somewhere that should be feeling pretty proud of this; it’s an accomplishment not typical in the world of advertising.

In addition to buzzworthy creative, the element of mystery surrounding the album release should also be commended. Teasing and building anticipation amongst viewers, the campaign did a tremendous job in getting audiences to voice their angst: a notable category of sentiment came from viewers wanting Drake to finally tell them the day they could get the album.  

Sysomos Reports: Sentiment Topic Analysis

Timing Is Everything. Especially for Influencers

As mentioned above, the timing element was no coincidence. As the celebrity elite descended upon Toronto (with Drake the center spotlight for the Raptors all week long), it was known from the outset that pop/media influencers would take notice (and hopefully get in on the hype on social).

In addition to many social influencers from the hip hop industry discussing this campaign on social channels, our analysis uncovered one of the biggest influencers to be Billboard Magazine.

As we do with all advertising, we saw the social impact from timing and relevance. Drake’s relationship with basketball, with the Raptors, and with the All-Star game created the perfect storm – one any brand would be so lucky to activate a campaign around.

Collectively, with social buzz about him at peak, when some of the biggest influencers would take notice, the situation was primed for OOH to generate word-of-mouth (social) activity.




To get the full story, along with a great analysis of the campaign from Clear Channel’s perspective, head here. A full copy of the Sysomos report is also available for download here.

2 Comments on “A Lesson from Drake and “The 6”: The Connection Between OOH Advertising and Social Media”

  1. Pingback: Drake - "Pop Style" (New Verse) | TurntUpTracks.com

  2. Pingback: Drake’s Toronto Takeover Generates 127.2 Million Earned Media Impressions | Clear Channel Canada

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