Byline: Melissa Drier

BERLIN — Bigger is best.
That could be the motto for Germany’s latest outdoor advertising craze. No longer content with bus stop posters and advertising columns, companies have turned to mega-posters or photo blowups, usually hung like tarps off scaffolding at construction sites or pasted onto bare walls.
These posters, ranging in size from 1,300 to 6,500 square feet, were first introduced in Germany three years ago. The posters achieved initial popularity with the entertainment, media and automotive industries.
Then the hangings caught the eye of fashion and fragrance manufacturers.
Such beauty names as Joop’s All About Eve, XXL from Etienne Aigner, Chanel’s Allure fragrance and Beiersdorf’s Nivea skin care cream have recently been taking their places beside Tina Turner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, MTV and Audi in major downtown sites throughout Germany. And Calvin Klein, a poster pioneer here, has been mounting ads for his jeans line plus Obsession and CK One fragrances.
“Outdoor advertising is more and more important, and we’d like to use more outdoor media in a total sense,” said Yn Tong Ng, account executive at CIA in Dusseldorf and media consultant for Calvin Klein fragrances in Germany. “But demand is also very high, and good sites are hard to come by.”
Most typical outdoor advertising vehicles — billboards, advertising columns, bus stops and other light box installations — are employed by the auto and tobacco industries, which occupy 80 percent of the normal outdoor space, he said.
As a result, companies have to book these spaces long in advance. But the mega-posters fall outside the routine. Because construction scaffolding can pop up quickly and disappear just as fast, the lead times for advertising possibilities are much shorter. Ad hoc decisions can be made, such as when Calvin Klein put an Obsession mega-poster on the Hotel Adlon scaffolding near the Brandenberger Tor in Berlin during the Love Parade in June.
For Ng, the mega-posters are not a short-lived trend, but he sees them as “a supporting medium, not the backbone.”
“They’re very good for introductions or a reminder,” he said, adding, “You can’t miss a mega-poster. You reach a lot of people.”
“The fragrance industry lives from trends, and we chose blowups for Joop because it’s the trend here,” said Cornelia Rebmann, fragrance product group manager for Lancaster in Weisbaden. “They’re a high-impact vehicle, and you can achieve visual dominance quite easily,”
She estimated that at most one-quarter of All About Eve’s ad budget has gone into strategically placed poster/banners appearing in Germany’s major cities in August, September and December.
“We wanted to supplement the print campaign, and we didn’t do TV spots for All About Eve. But print remains the basic medium,” she said.
Nevertheless, the posters generated very engaged consumer response, including one theft of an All About Eve visual in Munich.
“Blowups are an additional approach and a way to reach a new target group. They’re eye-catchers,” said Melitta Weiser, marketing director for Etienne Aigner in Munich.
Aigner chose the vehicle for its new unisex fragrance XXL, combining the mega-poster campaign with a parallel T-shirt and other XXL prize competitions in daily newspapers.
It cost Aigner about $12,280 to $15,725 (20,000-25,000 marks) to produce the 2,691-square-foot poster, which was printed in the U.S. The price for an A1 location like the Sigestor in Munich ran $53,460 (85,000 marks) for four weeks.