”Advertising has always pushed the boundaries of what’s feasible“
Interview with Mario Döhring, Managing Director werbeland.
In 1999, Mario Döhring and his father Heino Döhring founded Germany’s first and so far only industry association for advertising technicians. Today werbeland has just under 250 members in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The group has national and international customers in the areas of illuminated advertising, car advertising and signage.
2011 marked your first time at the EuroShop. What was your impression?
The EuroShop was a complete success for us. Although werbeland has been around since 1999, the way we offer illuminated signage and advertising was new for many retail chains. With 250 affiliated companies in Germany alone, werbeland is able to offer the entire range of corporate communication from illuminated advertising all the way to vehicle graphics – centrally organized and executed locally. If need be, in international branding for instance this leads to a speed of implementation that hasn’t been around like that before. Systems that are in the process of being established – such as many young franchise organizations for instance – also have gratefully accepted the fact that their search for a great local advertising company is now over.
Bigger, lighter and brighter? Which trends do you notice in outdoor advertising?
All in that order (laughs). However, this is a continuous trend. Advertising has always pushed the boundaries of what is technically feasible. Just think about the enormous digital prints you find for instance on airport parking garages. What was unimaginable in the past is now normal. Or think of the trend towards moving pictures. Today there are ways to turn the entire shop window at night into a kind of giant monitor at the push of a button.
How do towns react when it comes to permits?
That is the crux and is very differently treated in a global context. Abroad we see advertising structures that would be unimaginable in Germany. What is often dismissed as the typical “German way of inhibiting innovation” also has its upside. I think it is reassuring to know that building authorities look out for historic city centers not to be blemished by gaudy, garish and possibly flashing monstrous advertising structures.
What are the benefits of LED? When does the good old neon lamp pay off?
I am glad you are bringing this up, because the LED is something like a hidden trend. Hidden because the layperson normally is not able to see from the outside whether neon lamps or LEDs illuminate an advertising structure. Increased environmental consciousness and continually rising energy prices have paved the way for LEDs who by now are at home in many applications.
LED has more amenities besides reduced energy consumption. For example, there is much less depth possible than in times of the neon tube. I am not an engineer, but I really cannot think of an application where I would prefer a neon tube to an LED solution. The enemy of good is better. There will definitely be something better than LED some day. However, at the moment we only know of projects that try to make the most out of LED technology. The end of the line has not been reached yet.
Which lighting options are currently trendy?
Neon company logos: the layperson can barely tell whether neon tubes or LEDs are being used.
Not possible is not an option! The landscape of illuminated advertising has never been as versatile as it is today. Aside from the – hidden – trend towards energy-efficient LED lighting, we notice an increased demand for illuminated solutions. These are often directly printed or laminated aluminum composite material panels that are illuminated by external spotlights. An affordable solution that does not have to look cheap if it has a great design. It is increasingly popular with franchise systems.
Antique hotels and handicraft enterprises have great wrought-iron sign holders, also called vintage business signs. Does this tradition also exist in a modern look?
To convey a message of “dear customer, we hold dear to tradition“, there is probably nothing better than a wrought-iron sign holder, which presumably primarily depends on the material. Sign holders or vintage business signs however are ultimately a generic term for signs that are perpendicular to the “face” of a building. They are being especially well noticed if the direction of passing pedestrians is at right angles to the facade. Sign holders today are available from classic illuminated signage all the way to banner hanging tension systems.
Illuminated business signs have been around for some time. What is happening in this area?
Generally, the same holds true for sign holders as with all other types of signs. Self-luminous or illuminated – everything is possible, but the typical letter cube formats that are somewhat reminiscent of crossword puzzles are becoming rarer. Ultimately, vertical scripts are always a little problematic. If the letters are regularly aligned, they are written from top to bottom. Angled scripts are written from the bottom up. Both are only advisable for short words.
A lot more is permitted in industrial parks. Are there also some creative solutions in this area that are unusual?
Planning laws are typically less strict in industrial parks. Nonetheless, particularly here, you don’t see as many fancy or even large advertising structures because there are usually not many casual customers. This is different for large shopping centers or home-centers, especially if they are close to the freeway. Here the long-range effect is all but essential for survival. Large advertising towers however are also being used more because the basic construction has become more affordable thanks to the increase of wind generators.
What do you have to keep in mind for the different carrier materials and lighting inside and outside in terms of color effect?
This is a very big topic. The answer to this question requires a lot of experience. An incredible amount of mistakes is made in consultations here. Meanwhile I don’t even think it is so tragic if the color effect during the night slightly differs from the color effect during the day. I think it is far worse that you are no longer able to recognize some brands once the spotlights of the advertising structure are turned on because everything sparkles and reflects.
Despite cost consciousness, for us such an advertising structure falls into the category of ”it is far too expensive“. The large brands don’t often have that problem, otherwise they would have probably also not have grown this big. With new franchise organizations on the other hand, we see this often – especially if the brand-new founders of a new business have to take care of their outdoor advertising themselves and then choose the cheapest contractor and the cheapest solution because they don’t know any better.
Finally, let’s take a look at company vehicles: how can they be incorporated into outdoor advertising? Are there solutions for temporary sales campaigns?
Wrapped in foil, company cars turn into moving company nameplates. QR codes lend themselves to mobile marketing.
Well-done car advertising is a great and affordable way to communicate the brand and respective campaigns. That is why we also always offer them as well. The fact that many options still remain unused is because the market still doesn’t know enough about werbeland. With our supporting network, we are able to wrap a corporate fleet nationwide in a few short days – without long lead times and without the cars having to move long distances. Therefore, it is up to us to spread the good news.
The car is a German’s favorite toy. Germany is simply a car country and smartly designed vehicles are always eye-catchers. The beautiful thing is that no matter how unusual the company color, it can be transformed with a wrap. This even protects the car paint at the same time and thus reduces stress when the car lease is up.
Nevertheless, it gets even better: you can use a so-called QR code for temporary promotions, which can become a prominent part of the car design. If this code is being scanned with a Smartphone, the interested customer gets a description of the offer on the Internet, possibly generates a promotional code and finds out where the next branch is located. Suddenly the company car is also a kind of company nameplate.
Interview by René Schellbach, EuroShop.de