Geopath Member Spotlight: Brooklyn Outdoor
A conversation with Candice Simons, Founder and CEO of Brooklyn Outdoor

Geopath Member Spotlight: Brooklyn Outdoor <br/> <span style='color:#000000;font-size: 18px;'>A conversation with Candice Simons, Founder and CEO of Brooklyn Outdoor</span>
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About Brooklyn Outdoor

I started Brooklyn Outdoor  in 2013 after moving back to Detroit from Chicago, where I was in the industry for 10 years. Being a Michigan native and coming back to Detroit, It just felt like the right time and place to start a business and give it a shot.  The potential for growth and opportunity for a young entrepreneur in Detroit at the time was endless. In fact, there weren’t any other national OOH companies based in Detroit and I’ve always managed to see opportunities in areas where they hadn’t existed prior. Everyone thought I was crazy at the time, but I love it and it just works for us.

Candice Simons, Founder and CEO – Brooklyn Outdoor

Brooklyn Outdoor’s passion is to connect communities and ideas through out-of-home. Our HQ is in Detroit’s historic Eastern Market with offices in Los Angeles and Chicago as well. We are a certified minority owned business (WBE) and have national coverage in most of the major markets across the United States with our billboards, hand-painted murals, digital opportunities, transit advertising, experiential marketing, and other unique formats.

 

Why Detroit?

Michigan is extremely loyal even when times are tough — especially Detroiters.  We are proud people in general – proud of where we are from and what we have built.  There has always been this sense of strength, resilience ,and pride (with a little grit) even though the media may have a different story.

 

Storytelling has always been key for us because we’ve been able to directly communicate what Detroit is as a major market to our agency clients and large brands that may not think of us as their first choice. We’ve pushed the envelope to ask “Why? What is the stigma? What holds you back from advertising here?” As a result, I believe we have been able put a national spotlight on Detroit that may have not been there in the past.  The markets that are ahead of us are extremely built out and adept in OOH, whereas Detroit isn’t, and I think a lot of that has resulted from the lack of demand or willingness to navigate the unknown.  This is something we are not afraid to do – push the envelope and “think outside the board” as we always say.

Since we started, a lot of things have changed dramatically. We’ve been able to see the direct correlation and impact that we are making in the community, specifically on our landowners and neighborhoods in the city, through different programming and efforts that we pioneer and/or take part in. There is truly no other city like Detroit, and we’ve really been able to make such a huge impact in a short amount of time that we have been here, and we can see the footprint that we’ve left.  It makes my heart full and leaves me with so much pride in what we are doing despite the challenges that we have faced as a small company over the years.

 

When you’re in a larger city like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, it’s harder to step back and get a birds-eye view of what your company has been able to do because you can’t truly see the footprints when there are millions of people stepping all over them. In Detroit, we’ve made our own lane and paved the way ourselves. Being able to see the impact has been the most rewarding thing for me as a business owner, especially in my hometown.

 

Everyone here works together to drive forward the same goals. Small businesses work together and big corporations work with us. There’s not a lot of “competition” here – it’s a lot more of supporting each other in order to drive business and the economy forward. The other markets I’ve been in have been a “keep your enemies close” sort of scenario, so the openness and willingness of Detroit to share resources and “secrets” has contributed greatly to our success as well.

 

Hopes for the future with Geopath membership

Most of the partners that we work with are Geopath members, so we are really excited to be back in the mix – especially with the new products and formats that we’re building.  We are even more excited to utilize the new tools and insights as part of our storytelling efforts for new, past, and potential clients. Our Geopath membership allows us to identify what the client is trying to accomplish within their marketing efforts and show them just how out-of-home can help achieve their goals and deliver results.

 

It is game changing to be able to utilize Geopath Insights and actually show them where they need to be in order to drive the traffic that they’re looking for, or achieve the goals that they set for that campaign. The ability to really dive into that with our clients and provide a greater service to them, showing them that OOH is more than just a directional billboard on an expressway, has opened up a new world for both us and our clients. I’m really excited to be able to offer that to our clients and really take hold of these new capabilities that have been coming out over the past year.  It is key for us to all be on the same page as OOH companies and speak the same language to our clients and brands.

 

Key opportunities for the OOH industry

There are many opportunities for OOH as we continue to advance with insights and storytelling. Most importantly, we can now show clients (who have gone down different paths with their media mix) that we have a central measurement tool that allows us to be able to recapture dollars that have gone elsewhere. Having new capabilities and becoming more united as an industry is going to be key for us moving forward.

 

Specifically, for our business, we are building out a bus shelter advertising plant in Detroit, which has never been done before in the city. Detroit has variety of different bus shelters that have gone up over the years, and none of them have included an advertising channel for the city.  We’ve been working closely with the city to showcase the benefit of utilizing OOH and how we can easily drive the important revenue that the city needs and provide infrastructure to the community and neighborhoods.

 

Being able to then use data and measurement to ramp up this offering is a big opportunity for us. The ability to create new things that have never been done in Detroit allows us to position the city like any other top market. To be able to accomplish that within a few years of working with the city and see it start to roll out is a pretty exciting opportunity for us, and I think a major indicator of how fast OOH is growing overall.

 

Challenges

If anything, this year has been unpredictable. This has presented significant challenges for OOH as all of our decision making is based on data and people leaving their homes. Nonetheless, we are adapting to meet the challenge. We are continuing to use data to drive decision making, which has involved a focus on hyper-local formats such as transit. We continue to go where the people are.

 

There’s certainly also been a lot of change and ramp up within digital as a result of advancements in technology. It seems like every year we’re faced with not a new obstacle, but something new to consider as we’re moving forward as an industry. Those types of technological considerations are going to continue to come up as we move forward because we don’t always know what the trends will be. But the good thing about OOH is that we’re the oldest format and we’re able to project what those potential changes are going to be.

 

By working in tandem with organizations like Geopath and OAAA, we’re making sure OOH is here to stay, and that we can rise to the occasion of whatever is happening around us. We’re able to quickly adjust and utilize the other formats, like digital, to increase the visibility in OOH. Instead of saying “don’t buy digital” we say, “digital is great,” and then work to come up with ways to utilize both digital and OOH to make the brand even more successful. This is a mentality that I think a lot of other formats really haven’t been able to do, but something we are actively doing.

 

Why OOH?

I’ve always been naturally drawn to a many different industries and geographic areas. I am addicted to learning and growing as I go and learn.  By choosing OOH as my career path, I’ve been able to explore and pave my own way in an amazing industry. It’s given me the opportunity to continue to connect and engage with different communities and put the ideas in motion, through curating OOH placements and campaigns.

 

OOH is not going anywhere because we have the opportunity to innovate and create while being strategic with our ongoing efforts. Brands and agencies are taking note of the power of OOH, and this is only going to continue, with all the advancements in technology and the ways the industry is working together to ensure our staying power. I think OOH is headed in the right direction when we’re working together instead of working separately to achieve this. We are proud to be out-of-home “lifers” and are here to stay.

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