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New Talent: Olivia Salau
Out of Home
London, UK
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Ocean Outdoor’s senior creative solutions executive on her first job in DOOH and battling misconceptions around out of home
Olivia Salau's role as senior creative solutions executive is a new one at Ocean Outdoor. After spending a few months at a B2B Internet sales company (her first job out of university), she quickly realised that the rigidness and lack of creative opportunity wasn’t for her. She is now part of the Ocean Labs research and development team working hand in hand with agencies, specialists and brands to really begin pushing the bar in digital out of home creativity.

LBB’s Liam Smith caught up with Olivia to find out more about her role, her competitive streak, and her work on this year’s Malibu summer campaign.

LBB> Let’s get to know a bit about you. Where did you grow up, and what kind of kid were you?

Olivia Salau> I am a Londoner born and bred. I have always lived in south-east London, other than my time at university. It was great as my whole family lives in the area so we spend lots of time hanging out, enjoying each other’s company. As a child I was always sporty, in fact my first word was ‘ball’, which naturally made me very competitive and a lover of a good challenge. My mum and dad would make games out of everything so I think I grew up with a great sense of fun and finding the enjoyable side of most things.

LBB> This is your first job in digital out of home. What were you doing before, and can you tell us a bit about what your role entails? 

OS> Yes, my first job out of university was working for a B2B Internet sales company which had an incredibly rigid structure and didn’t really allow any opportunity for creativity or offer any professional freedom. It wasn’t for me at all. 

Eventually I was introduced to Ocean which was almost the polar opposite and I haven’t looked back since.

I am a part of the Oceans Labs team which is the creative arm of Ocean. We deal with anything innovative and any campaign that looks to introduce something non-standard to their activation… everything from special builds to experiential. The fun stuff!

I have recently moved into the project management aspect of the team which is something that has always interested me as you really get the satisfaction of a project completed. I love seeing something that was merely a creative concept coming to life and being a key part of the process. A huge part of the enjoyment is the random challenges that get thrown up and finding ways past them.

LBB> Would you agree that when it comes to media and OOH agencies, there’s a bit of a misconception surrounding the creativity involved?

OS> I think there are two extremes when it comes to the way people think about creativity in OOH. A lot of people underestimate the work that goes into pulling some of these campaigns off and think that these executions can be pulled off at the drop of a hat. At the other end are those who are convinced that these things are too complicated and too much of a brand risk. I think that this is slowly changing and the industry is catching up with the technology, by becoming more daring with what they do.

I also think there is an under-appreciation of more simple activations that give you real time and localised messaging. In my opinion this is one of the most powerful elements of creative OOH as it really plays to the reactive nature of DOOH (digital out of home). Showing the screen as not just a display but also a source of something both fun and useful.

LBB> You worked on the talkRadio campaign last year. Can you tell us a bit about it, your involvement, and any entertaining interactions it spurred? 

OS> I was involved from the very early stages of this campaign, from when the brief initially came in to when we saw it go live. I was heavily involved throughout the process, which was great as this was my first real exposure of what it is like to work at bringing a brand’s vision to life.

The idea of the campaign was to remind consumers about the true essence of chat radio shows; the celebrity personalities, the reactive nature, and the chance to have your say. To reflect this we had a talkRadio hotline in the experiential area at Eat Street, Westfield London. Passers-by would have a quick chat with the producers and have a chance to have their say live on air. In addition, there was a live stream of the presenter on the big screen that the audience could see and a stream of the audience that the presenter could interact with. We played the show out live from the screen.

There is always a risk when you go live and broadcast members of the public live on air, and there was one particular gentleman whose vocabulary didn’t seem to stretch further than a few four-letter words. Fortunately, we had the producers on site to steer him well away from the phone before he could go live across the nation!

LBB> And can you tell us a bit more about the Malibu summer campaign from this year?

OS> The Malibu campaign is a favourite of mine. As a rule of thumb, if people have a chance to have a moment of fame on screen, it’s really exciting for them. With GIFs becoming ever popular on social media, the Malibu campaign hit a real sweet spot with their youthful audiences, allowing them to create their own summer themed GIFs. Creating really fun consumer driven content for the screen – what could be better?

LBB> What drew you to join the team at Ocean Outdoor?

OS> It was real coincidence that I discovered Ocean. The thing that really drew me in was the atmosphere during my interview. I initially had a real fear of committing to changing my job, and wasn’t even going to go to the interview, despite how unhappy I was in my previous company. All the usual ‘what if’ questions came up. But as soon as I stepped into the office and was greeted by the team I was instantly at ease. Catherine (Morgan) and Kevin (Henry), who interviewed me, created an atmosphere in which I felt like I could relax and actually give the answers that would show off the best of me, instead of thinking about what I could have said two hours later. This is something that has been echoed throughout my time at Ocean. Having the support and the backing to be free with the work that I do without fear of failure and knowing you have a team that rallies around you makes it much easier to do your best and get back up even when mistakes are made.

LBB> What other projects have you been involved in recently that you particularly enjoyed?

OS> Waitrose Sparkle – a Christmas campaign that brought snow to the Westfield centres in London; live streaming the famous Grand National in Manchester, Liverpool and London; a Tommy Hilfiger live stream from Paris Fashion Week; and March for Giants, a huge digital parade of 3D generated elephants which had global reach and crossed 3 continents. 

LBB> What’s on your Christmas wish list?

OS> To be honest… a lot of boring stuff. I have my own place, and I’m not much of a nester, so despite living there for two years I am only really now making it look like home. So things like picture frames, lamps and candles are really what I am hoping for.

LBB> What do you get up to outside of work to relax and unwind?

OS> I have always been a film buff, so chilling out on the sofa with a big bowl of nachos is what makes me happiest. I am still a keen sportsperson and at the moment I am playing for a local football team, which is amazing for clearing my head and burning off all the stress that’s popped up during the week.