How to own the icon - hints and tips for taxi advertising design

13th Mar 2018

The iconic black taxi, London’s #1 design icon and a first-class public service, is also an out of home advertising opportunity that reaches 8/10 Londoners every two weeks. The very robust media argument that can be made for taxis within the OOH mix on Route, reassures that taxis are an efficient media choice, but beyond the media decision-making we sometimes find that brands need our help with designing adverts for taxi formats. It might sound a little obvious to say this, but taxis are not a standard shape with a flat surface; they have curves instead of right-angles and they’re always on the move too! Combine these facts and it could be easy to feel creatively challenged. However, it’s worth rising to the challenge because the black taxi is a global icon, and there is big opportunity here for a brand to own it – with the added benefit of course, that taxi advertising reaches a huge amount of people.

Long-term/short-term, tactical or brand?
Firstly, which format suits your campaign needs? There are two classic taxi formats, the SuperSide taxi and the Livery taxi; SuperSide taxis have advertising across all 4 panels down each side of the taxi, below the window line and a Livery taxi is a complete ‘wrap’ of the taxi – simple as that. SuperSide taxis are most often used in high volume for short-term, tactical campaigns and the Livery format is most frequently used for longer-term brand building because the brand has more space to work with, without having to think too much about tactical messages. Either way, every taxi we sell is 100% exclusive to one brand, inside and out.

The question of copy
Let’s not forget that your advert is on a moving vehicle, which will be driven amongst high rise buildings, alongside buses, past pedestrians and pavement socialisers; every angle can be seen and is a communication opportunity. Good taxi creative will consider the unusual space of the taxi – utilising the larger areas for bold graphics and copy and the smaller areas, such as above the wheel arches, for logos, websites or social media. As a basic rule we recommend that any copy on the outside of your taxi is short and punchy; even though taxis do spend time in slow moving, city-centre traffic or on a public rank, they’re mostly on the move, so make your advert bold and simple. The ideal place for long copy is on the interior tip-seat panels – every taxi has at least two and they’re directly in front of passengers throughout their journey, which in London traffic can be well in excess of 20 minutes! For that brand-to-hand take-away reminder of your campaign, add branded receipts to your taxi campaign.

Owning a global icon.
If your brand owns a colour, then use it to take over the iconic taxi shape for instant brand recognition. A colour-led campaign will cut-through the busy streets and trigger valuable consumer connections and build awareness. It’s also worth remembering that an advert becomes more meaningful when created to be in context with its environment, so think about tailoring your brand message to the iconic black taxi, the knowledgeable drivers or to the city. Brands that think contextually look smart and will benefit from strong emotional responses that drive word of mouth sharing.

Taxis in the media mix
Adding taxis to other OOH media is proven to improve reach, however taking a creative that was originally intended for a portrait format and repurposing for a landscape taxi can be a challenge, but there is nothing that cannot be overcome! Many of the brands we work with have original artwork intended for magazine or other OOH portrait formats, so at Ubiquitous we offer a free creative service that works with brands and their agencies to achieve the transition from portrait to landscape, to effectively deliver the brand message.

Fancy a ride?
At Ubiquitous we have a dedicated events and experiential team who can create bespoke brand activity using branded taxis. This might be VIP rides, store showcasing, city-centre convoys or product sampling. This is a great way to capture imaginations and drive online awareness via social media. Additionally, if you want to turn heads, our production team can advise about taxis special-builds, if you wish to enhance either the interior or exterior of the taxi with features. Whether it’s a straight-forward SuperSide campaign or Livery campaign with experiential, with a little guidance and creative thinking, we’re helping brands to maximise the potential of their taxi advertising, so their campaign can deliver more than great audience reach and city centre stand-out; creative shouldn’t be an obstacle when it comes to taxi advertising with Ubiquitous.