Welcome to our new website!
May 25, 2020

OOH Insider - Episode 029 - Adam Salacuse, Founder of ALT TERRAIN

OOH Insider - Episode 029 - Adam Salacuse, Founder of ALT TERRAIN

Adam Salacuse is a cool guy...like really cool. He's the Anthony Bourdain of advertising in the great neighborhoods that make up major metros from Los Angeles to New York.

He's worked with iconic brands like Converse, Gatorade and HBO on everything from wildpostings to walking billboards, mobile pop up shops and guerilla marketing.

When a brand wants to use the power of a community culture for good, ALT TERRAIN is the shop they call.

Join Adam and I as he takes us thru what it means to take your brand to the street.

Check out their work at: https://altterrain.com/

And definitely connect with Adam on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/salacuse/

Follow us on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/oohinsider/

And if you'd like to support the show, consider a great piece of OOH Swag for yourself at oohswag.com - thanks!

Support the show (http://oohswag.com)

Welcome to the out of home, insider the loudest voice in out of home, bringing you actionable insight that you can actually use. And today's guest has a ton of insight and a really hot topic. Something that he's been at for better part of two decades, Adam from alt terrain. Thanks so much for being. Amen.

It's a pleasure. I'm a big marketing nerd I could hear and talk about it all day long. That's exactly what we do here. So why don't you tell the audience, tell the folks listening and watching what it is that you do? Uh, well, in short, I'd say that we help brands be a part of people's lives via city. So, whether that be a poster projection vehicle of some sorts street team being at a festival, you know, experientials type of stuff too.

Um, you know, trying to, trying to bring experiences to marketing. When I grew up in the nineties. Uh, as you probably recall, you know, marketing was kind of lame. It was like one dimensional, just pushing the messages out. And what was missing in my opinion was like, you know, context, relevancy and experiences, you know, get out there, be human help people.

And so what I've been trying to do over the past, as you say, two decades is kind of bring that to brands. And now. I'm sure. You know, a lot of you in your audience, you just maybe do billboards. So it may be a bit challenging for a billboard operator to bring, you know, personality you're personable, you know, to people, but you know, maybe there's, there's a lot of different ways to bring.

I think we can talk about for sure. So the proverbial question really, when, when you look at what you do, it's so. It's it's so much part of the culture in that community, which comes first, the creative or the culture, which drives which well, you know, we work with a lot of agencies and they often create the concept.

Well, the strategy, the concept, the message, the visuals, and then we help them with. Translated for the streets for neighborhoods, you know, for festivals. So, you know, whether it be McDonald's or, you know, converse like, okay, how do we take this concept that you have and bring it to the people of Chicago, which is probably different than where you bring it to LA, just because each city.

And each neighborhood has a unique culture. You know, how people go to work, where they hang out, do they drive, do they take mass transit? So, you know, we kind of have, uh, you know, our feelers out there constantly feeling what's going on. We kind of believe cities are alive and always changing. So, um, you know, we kind of like go with the creative first and then figure out how to bring it to life in each individual.

It sounds important, right? Because if we're allowing maybe the city to sort of dictate the creative, I'm sure that there's a lot of ideas. We could constantly be changing. The city's constantly changing. It's a living, breathing organism of people. So when you take that creative first approach and you mentioned LA, you mentioned Chicago, New York, how.

How scalable is it? Is it something that is exclusive to big cities like that? Or could you run this in a smaller market that just has a unique cultural opportunity? Well, we try and give people an option to do a one-off, which is all well and good. But what you want to do is to figure out something that works and then scale it out.

So, you know, sometimes it is smart to do a start doing it in one market, small market like Pittsburgh and get it really down and then scale it up. So it could be as simple as, you know, a street team, but you know, each day you learn a little bit more about your messaging, you know, what's resonating with people and then.

You can bring it to a bigger market like Chicago or New York, Miami. And so, um, what we try to do is take things that really weren't scalable earlier on, you know, like these on the street experiences of some sort, and then figure out how to bring it to several cities at the same time. Or as we were just talking about rolling.

So, uh, that's usually the puzzle that we try to also figure out the same time escape. What's the experience and how can we bring this? What we're, what we're suggesting is make sure they can scale it up. And as it scales up, it costs less. You know, uh, so that's, that's part of the puzzle process. Yeah. It's definitely more strategic than just going out and saying, Hey, I want to do this thing, this neighborhood.

And I think that that's important. Um, how do you see the conversation around, you know, hyper-local, as we've come out of this, uh, social distancing and, and, you know, face it face of brave new world, how do you see that concentration in what you do? Are they harmonious? Do they work together? Does it really impact you at all?

And if so, Well, our view is, you know what? We do, posters, projections, all that stuff is hyper-local marketing. I know hyperlocal usually is applied to the internet marketing world, but it truly is, you know, greeting people on their way to work as they're taking mass transit or, um, you know, where they're hanging out on the weekends waiting to get alignment, you know, a cup of coffee outside a store, people are lining up now outside, you know, Th there's, it's definitely an opportunity.

And I think there's a lot of advantages happening. I mean, there's wherever there's change there's opportunity. And there's probably two times in our lifetime. So far we've seen as much change the financial crisis and what's going on now. So was just take an example like in New York, I think people will be taking mass transit less.

There'll be taking their bikes to. There'll be, you know, walking, uh, they'll be taking less Uber, you know? So that is a huge opportunity for just about anybody who's doing outdoor. So, uh, you know, offering people, you know, hand sanitizer, if they're taking mantras, mass transit or giving something, branded for people's bikes, whether it's a bike seat or putting, even putting flowers on people's bikes, you don't want to read the message.

So. Um, there are just endless opportunities for outdoor at this time. I mean, right now it's quiet, but I think July, August, September the rest of the year, um, I think we're going to see a rush of, um, uh, opportunities and, and just think of it this way. You remember the financial crisis, EV just about every brand, had an update, their visuals and their messages.

So the same thing's going to happen to happening now, at least that's what we're seeing with brands. And that's why it's so quiet there. So once they get that figured out, they're going to have to have a way to get it to the people. And there are a lot of different ways these days, you know, TV, radio, but outdoors part of it.

And, uh, I think starting in July, we're going to see. The usual, you know, your current clients calling you and say, okay, we're ready to go with this new poster campaign. But I think we're also going to see as with the financial crisis, a lot of brands who you weren't in your client roster before, like these budget brands.

Painless stores or boost mobile or something like that. You know, they're saying this is our time to shine because people are no longer thinking about, or they are thinking about it's like maybe I should change from Verizon or ATT and go to something less. So at least that's what we saw with the financial crisis.

Like, okay, the current clients are here and now there's a whole new crop of, uh, brands that are looking to, you know, uh, get in the mix. So. I think we're going to be busy the second half of the year. Now. It makes sense too. When you talk about that, changing of message and creating really the opportunities for some of those smaller players to move into this space.

I think it's a good point because it's been a conversation I've had with a few folks that we've all been slowed to the exact same. And it's up to you, whether you want to stop moving all together, or if you want to drive at the speed limit of that reduced speed. So I think that, uh, I think that it's going to be an exciting thing to watch.

What's what's the right message. People are absolutely exhausted with this. We're in it together. We're coming back strong. I, at least I am. And you know, people close to me seem to be what's the right message. Is there a right message? Is, is there a wrong message? What's your. Well, I everyone's doing the same thing now, as you say, we're all in it together, but I think it goes back to your brand and the objectives.

And again, we're not a creative agency. We don't come up with the message often, but I would say in general, You want to be personable. You don't want to seem out of touch with way what's going on in people's lives. A lot of people lost their jobs and, um, and money may be tight or they may have lost somebody.

So you want to be too, uh, excited and happy to be outdoors, you know, which you say, Hey, we're outdoors, you know, and, and, um, here's a little something to make the day a little bit better enjoyable. So, uh, You know, I'm just trying to think of jobs in the past that kind of brought this element to it. So, uh, there's a, a local, uh, jeweler chain in Boston called long's jewelers.

And during the holidays past couple of years, Carolers to greet people, uh, as they're walking work and, you know, tool monotonous going the same route every day. So, you know, having carols there, you know, giving people a little holiday card and some ice sculpture. So just doing things to make day people's days, a little bit brighter would be my suggestion.

Uh, so don't go too far out and say, Hey, isn't it great now? Cause I don't think it is. Um, and, uh, you know, I think, I think I have faith in the agencies and brands that there'll be on point with what they say, but if it's a little bit off would kind of just. Help them configure it a little bit differently for each for each.

Yeah, I think that that could be cool. Right? Take advantage of the opportunities to just, like you said, put a smile on someone's face, create that positive brand association. It's always about how you make people feel. I don't remember what you say, right? It's I think that's a cool opportunity. Tell me more about some of the campaigns that stand out in your mind.

I'm sure you've got some favorites over the years. The carolers definitely sound cool. Well, I'm sure you got a few more. I was thinking about that for, for preparing for the snow strangling. Okay. What has a little bit of element of like, uh, outdoor media and, you know, and bringing the experience. And that's why I put up this virtual background, which was a project for converse and what it was all about was, you know, making.

People and people in certain neighborhoods, the hero, the campaign, so, or a part of the campaign integral. So we took a beat up van and adorned it with graffiti and stickers and everything else inside the van. We had a poster printing station outside the van. Uh, we had people saying, Hey man, would you like to be part of a, uh, converse advertising campaign?

And they said, What do you mean? It's like, Hey, we'll check out the van. We take your photo, we'll print out some stickers. You look like you're in ad Congress. So you get the stickers now. And they were putting the posters now, and we're going to be putting off tonight. So if you come back tomorrow, you'll see your face up on that.

So, uh, you'll see, in the background, these are individuals from, you know, from the streets in New York. We also did it in Los Angeles and did it in three or four walls. So that's, it's like, you know, bringing people into the fold instead of just pushing it out B making them the center of what your, of your, you know, your brand.

And so that was, you know, definitely one of my favorites and, you know, check out the video case, study up on the all-terrain site. If you like. No, that's super cool. So these folks, there, there was no cost of talent or anything like that. It was just, Hey, there's an opportunity to be part of this campaign, right?

W I mean, they did have a sign, a waiver, so to make it legit, but it was definitely on the guerrilla style. We pull up the van, throw some shoes and displays on the sidewalk, which is a little semi legit, and then sit and had someone to hold a backdrop, a white backdrop and say, Hey, you know, here it is. You know, and, and that was it.

And so everyone wants against a white backdrop and prince and mountain posted them up the same day. And, you know, if that happened to me on the streets, uh, I would be telling all my friends posing in front of the wall pointing at me. So, you know, like kind of lens to word of mouth, you know, community content, all these things that brands really want to do.

And so I thought it was a pretty good example of like how. How to bring the, uh, you know, experiences to out-of-home. I think it's a killer idea. And my last guest David title from Bravo media, we talked about the opportunity of creating content around the content. So in this case, and if you can share great, if not, that's okay too, but I'd love your opinion on it.

How important is that opportunity to create content? Around the campaign, right? There's moving pieces going on. There's behind the scenes opportunities to then parlay on to social media and other platforms. Is that something that you did with this campaign? Um, and if not, is it something that brands take advantage of enough or what what's your take?

Uh, well, we document everything to the hilt because you know, you want to have. You don't want to do content for content's sake. You want to do content to build community or to share the experience beyond where it's happening. So we're doing a street team or this project, you know, if you can document it in real time and push that content out, they could say, oh, well, that's pretty cool.

You know what McDonald's is doing? You know, even though. Experience it. So in the old days it was like, all right, you know, we're going to reach five, 10,000 people out there with whatever initiative you're doing in the streets. But when the content comes into it, it could be 500,000 people, you know, VO.

Well, you just seeded out on all the platforms, Twitter, Instagram, uh, you know, it could be anything these days. So, um, so we're all about content and, you know, and getting it to people as soon as possible so that they can leverage what we do. Anything that we can make outdoor more valuable. That's where you.

Yeah, smart Sam. I'm thinking about it even now, just as you were talking that that wall probably by itself may not be the most valuable piece of advertising real estate in the world, but it's how you used it in all of these different ways that that created value. And that's pretty cool. I mean, if you, so you have like, you know, 12, 14 people up on the wall, they all have 200 followers.

There's. Multiplies right. And listen, 5, 7, 10 years from now, I'd still be buying converse and still telling people about that time that I was in this converse campaign. It's got lifetime value and there's not too many things that have that. Yeah. I mean, w people remember. Experiences, but what they remember you more than that are stories that they can tell and share with other people those live on forever.

A good story does. Uh, so, and I think that's what this one campaign did now, again, might be a little char, uh, challenging to figure out how to do that with, you know, an outdoor billboard company, you know, but you put a little thought into it. I don't think it's impossible. No, I think that there's great opportunities, even just with the, how, how a billboard goes up and, you know, introducing your campaigns as the market and creating that content around it.

Um, it's why reality TV exists, right? Because we all want to see behind this. I love the process, you know, of, uh, street art more than I love seeing the street art. It's like how the guy created that and put it up. So. The process is more fascinating than the final product in many cases, when it comes to the way I look at, look at the world.

Sure. No, it's a very artistic thing and the way that it comes together, it's, it's not data and targeting it's Hey, we're going to do this really cool thing. And. Got to create that story. Yeah, exactly. That's cool. You've been consulted incited in the past and things that go wrong with guerrilla marketing style campaigns.

What, what are like the most common pitfalls? What are the things that, that are just absolute traps that brands fall into and totally miss. Great. So we should probably define gorilla marketing for everybody out there. Cause if you ask 10 people, you may get 10 different answers. So, uh, we define it as doing things without asking permission.

First, they may be in that gray area legally, but you know, you don't want it. You're going out and doing it anyway. You're being super creative going out there. Then some of the other definitions are like low budget, just being creative, but we define it as doing things with. Permission out there in the streets or in the public venues.

So, uh, the number one thing is to know your audience and know the. The culture. So, you know, if you were to take New York city is example, you could probably do quite a lot of guerrilla marketing in Williamsburg, Bushwick, you know, all day long without issue. But if you take it to the upper east side or the upper west side, you probably have a lot of people complaining and, you know, calling the cops on me.

So, um, you really wanna, uh, you know, obviously figure out your, your goals, your message, your concept, and then. Again, you know, figuring out the right way to do it in that specific neighborhood so that people embrace it instead of, you know, feeling, you know, like this is this isn't right for my, my hood, you know, so I would say that is the number one thing is make sure.

The right place, um, and in the right way. So it's not just about, Hey, we're going to play a little bit outside the rules here, and that's going to make us rebels it's about doing it. Playing outside the rules without necessarily breaking the rules of like a community's trust and what exactly. So that's a good point though.

The reason people do grill a marketing is often to have that badge of courage. It's like, Hey, we're out there doing things exactly. But you don't want to end up, you know, in, in the clinker all weekend long. So, you know, you want to. Um, again, figure out a way to do it so that you are recognized for having some street cred, you know, that you went out there and did something unique and different.

Uh, but don't upset people sort at least try not to. I mean, there are always, some people are going to have to have something to say, but to try and to do ways to let people embrace it. Uh, just think about it from. Their perspective. And so, you know, you offering brands like, okay, here's a message, just what we want to do, but really trying to figure out, well, how is this type of person?

And I perceive it. So, you know, again, you know, certain neighborhoods, you can kind of get an idea of the audience that's going to be there and then you kind of can craft it for that particular, um, group. Makes sense, makes sense. Any dream brands or any dream products that. We'll have to work with, maybe they're listening right now.

No, not no particular brands, but I just like to keep it moving forward, you know, figuring out how to bring, you know, stories, community and content to the outdoor, you know, marketing media space. So if a brand is up for that, um, you know, we're here to do it and. You know, um, originality plays a lot, uh, with us.

It's like, okay, you know, we just don't want to do the same thing over and over again because people don't really want to see the same thing that other brands have done before people gravitate to unique, new, you know, uh, type of, uh, activations or initiatives. So that's the shop we're at. So people have something they'd never, never been done before, or hasn't been done this certain way or has it been done in Dallas before?

The end of gravitating to all-terrain cause we're, you know, we're like that customer. I mean, that, just, that sounds tough though, to constantly be coming up with new ideas. Is it, is it a creative process that you guys have? Do you just have really creative? How do you keep fresh ideas? Well, there's a whole bunch of platforms, you know, that you can use, you know, so we look at all the assets we have, whether it's, you know, a trailer or a kiosk or street team or projections.

So, uh, so just kind of understand the goal, understanding what they're trying to achieve and then, um, And then you say, okay, what is the right way to bring this to life? And so we look in our bag of tricks and say, okay, well, is there anything that we currently have, it'd be a great fit. And if not, it's like, okay, we're going to have to build something.

You know, we're going to have to create this, uh, you know, SUV turns some SUV and does something crazy on the roof or whatever it is, we're just going to have to do it that. And so, uh, you just start with the goal and then figure out how to, how to translate it to the. Speaking of SUV with something on the roof.

Talk to me about the pancake. Oh, yeah. So all the pancake mobile is my kids like to call it. So this was for a frozen pancake company called the waffle bakers. So like, like, like frozen pancakes. I get at the grocery store and Zack Saturday morning. So I think they were rolling out to new markets. One was LA and the other one was Atlanta.

Well, we're maybe rolling out new products or to a new chain. And they're like, okay, what can we do instead of just maybe the usual sampling in the supermarket, which everybody does. And you know, it doesn't excite anybody. It's I go, well, why don't we actually. Outside supermarkets and on the street with a really cool a brand.

So the brand kind of has that vintage feel kind of like Snapple kind of has. And so you say, why don't we take a Jeep wagon here, one of my favorites and, uh, create a huge stack of pancakes out of, you know, uh, sculpted. I think it was either a foam or plexiglass. I can't recall, but make it, you know, probably.

Four or five feet high by four feet wide and attach it to the roof rack, wrap the vehicle, get some dry ice, get some coolers and just pull up, you know, to Melrose and, and, and say, Hey, you know, uh, you know, we have, this is for you, you know, this is from do waffle bakers and caves in her bag with a little ice packs, like keep it cold.

Um, and wherever that vehicle went, as you can imagine, Uh, it, you know, it just blew up the spot. Everyone's taking pictures of it, you know, whether you're, you know, five years old or 50 years old, you know, having, having, you know, something for the gram is, well, maybe a five-year-old doesn't have an Instagram count, nonetheless, but, but, you know, proposing with their parents are a big stack of paper.

Send to everybody, whether it be texts or whatever was definitely what you want. I mean, you want to be noticeable. And, and that was definitely one of my favorite, you know, vehicle campaigns, because it looked great, created a lot of impressions and the engagements were outstanding. People cross the street to come engage with it.

How many campaigns can you talk about that? Where are you like.

Yeah, exactly. So, um, and again, we activate all this outside the supermarkets where it was great because you're doing the same thing you would do inside the supermarket, but you're engaging people before they get inundated with all this other stuff. And you could say, Hey, you know, uh, you know, if you, if you buy a pack inside, you can get a, uh, a pack outside or something like.

Sure. And then I think it's great. I love the wagon here. I think, uh, I think it came out great and we'll definitely link somewhere, uh, downwards. You guys can go check it out. Cause that's pretty cool. Any projects that you're working on that you can tell us about coming out of a camp coming out of our current situation here?

Not yet, but I've been taking this time to build a few assets, so I don't want to reveal what they are. Um, you know, hopefully, you know, July 1st we'll have a few new offerings where brands, so, uh, I would stay in touch with us or maybe LinkedIn and you'll see it popping up. Um, but in general, you know, we're keeping tabs on what's going on.

A lot of, you know, uh, again, a lot of festivals who've been canceled and cities are changing culture. So, uh, again, we're just. We're just trying to, you know, figure out a way to, you know, help brands reconnect with people once, once everything opens up, for sure. We'll have to reconnect in a couple of months and see kind of what's transpired between now and then that sounds like great idea.

Cool, Adam, where can people find you? Give us the URL is give us the handles where the best places to try. Uh, I would say the best place would be LinkedIn because we are usually post up on there. And th that's where, you know, all the brand planners and media planners are. So put a lot of effort into that.

So you can either follow alt terrain alt terrain on, on LinkedIn or Adam solid use LinkedIn. And, uh, you know, uh, you know, or of course the website to just reach out that way, whatever, whichever way you feel about. Sounds good. We'll make sure there's links to everything down below Adam. I, uh, this hat has been a staple of the show for the last eight months or so, and after so many people asking me to more, did you get the hat?

I went out and did something crazy and it started making my own hats. So I just wanted to do it today. Cause it came to the. So to make the change over out-of-home inside of that head stick around after I shut off the record. Cause I want to get your address and get you. Get you a fresh, fresh led here.

I'll rock that. No problem. Cool. All right guys, hopefully you found this helpful. If you found it helpful, please share it with someone else who could benefit from the value of everything that Adam has shared here today. We'll definitely catch up with him in a few months to find out what's going on. As always want to get a hat like this.