Behind the Billboard: Meet Emily Nelson at Brooklyn Outdoor

Here at AdQuick, one of our guiding principles has been a passion for connecting people. Behind the scenes of every ad, campaign, or marketing strategy, there are teams of brilliant minds orchestrating how dots connect.

Behind the Billboard: Meet Emily Nelson at Brooklyn Outdoor

Here at AdQuick, one of our guiding principles has been a passion for connecting people. Behind the scenes of every ad, campaign, or marketing strategy, there are teams of brilliant minds orchestrating how dots connect.

From crafting messaging to developing creative and ultimately executing, it takes strong collaboration to pull off an outdoor program that people love. When people enjoy working together, that enthusiasm shines as an end result.

So, when you look at a billboard or outdoor ad campaign, what do you typically see?

You might see an advertisement. You might even notice some marketing judgment calls that went into campaign planning.

But what AdQuick sees behind the scenes is a bit different.

We see:

  • A continuum of American history — The fact that the first U.S. billboards date back to the 1830s, that standardized billboard structures started emerging in the 1900s, and that we are only at the beginning of a new digital era.
  • A continuum of world history — The fact that out of home advertising can trace its lineage to ancient Egypt, which reflects how deeply integrated this mode of advertising is, into our humanity.
  • A thriving brick and mortar business economy — The fact that out of home as an industry connects businesses of all walks of life (high-tech, low tech, large, small), into a thriving, interconnected ecosystem.
  • A small business backbone — The fact that many media owners identify as small businesses.

Every single billboard has a story that is more than what meets the eye.

Unless you work in the out of home industry, many of these behind-the-scenes experiences go unseen.

But isn’t the human experience bigger and better than pure consumerism?


Here at AdQuick, our team asks philosophical questions, as we think through the long-term value of out of home advertising in our global society. We constantly seek ways to align our individual contributions and fortunate position as a company to add value to the public. We believe that these perspectives will contribute to the development of a stronger social fabric.

Every so often, we’ll be publishing Q&As with awesome people in our partner network. To start, check out the following interview that we conducted with Emily Nelson, VP of sales and operations at Detroit-based Brooklyn Outdoor, which also has offices in Los Angeles and Chicago.

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Emily joined Brooklyn Outdoor in 2014 and had an instrumental role in helping the company grow its revenue from $600,000 to $6M annually. This metric, alone, highlights her personal contributions to the American small business economy as nothing short of remarkable.

The team at AdQuick recently had an opportunity to work with Emily on a public service campaign related to COVID, in which we strove to remind Americans to take pride in social distancing — something that the AdQuick team perceives to be a radical act of solidarity in our beautiful country.

Here’s what Emily shared with us, in the following interview:

AdQuick: How did you find your way to the OOH industry?
Emily: I was previously an elementary education teacher and spent a summer trying out sales. I had a passion for sales and heard about a mutual friend who had launched a start up in OOH advertising. I reached out to her (Candice, our CEO) to learn more about the company. We met for coffee. Little did I know, it was an interview. From there I have fully immersed myself in the OOH industry starting as an account rep. Six years later, I am now a VP of Sales.

AdQuick: What do you find inspiring about the OOH industry? What is the power of OOH?
Emily: It is the oldest form of advertising and yet still one of the most powerful tools. From iconic hand painted murals to full motion and sound digital spectaculars, like our TCF Center Spectacular digital display, OOH advertising has many ways to connect communities to national brands on a hyper-local level.

AdQuick: What is the power of OOH?
Emily: The power of OOH advertising is unique as you can’t turn it off. The formats and creatives work together to execute a cohesive campaign, that is noteworthy and super targeted to its specific audience. All of us in the industry play our part making the process come to life.

AdQuick: How do you see OOH offering value during the pandemic? What are other causes that you've seen successfully supported?
Emily: Our industry is already offering value and presence during the pandemic in such campaigns like #StayHomeSaveLives ad, Ad Council + CDC, American Red Cross, Coca Cola, Nike etc. Many of us are putting forth advertising efforts at no cost to spread awareness and encourage people. Other causes that have been successfully supported recently were the WWF - Australia wildfires, #SeeALL and World Wildlife Day.

AdQuick: Why is now the time for advertisers to invest in OOH?
Emily: As with the rest of the world, this pandemic has certainly caused us in the industry to reflect on how OOH can serve people during a time like this. Those of us who sell OOH have always known how influential OOH messaging can be.

But, now as we are seeing partnerships with the CDC + the White House, even those outside of the industry can see how essential OOH messaging can be.

Even more so than ever, OOH messaging is a way for advertisers to us messaging to make a real connection with their audience.

AdQuick: What are some of the most valuable initiatives that you've seen in different markets, and why?
Emily: This is a tough question because it depends on the objectives of the campaign. Nonetheless, the most valuable initiatives I have seen are ones where OOH is used to influence behavior that impacts the greater good of the public. Think about initiatives like “click it or ticket,” forest fire prevention tips on billboards in LA, or posting the voting date in areas with otherwise low voter turnout. It doesn’t always have to be so PSA driven either. Even notifying someone of a new nearby grocery store has huge impacts on someone with lack of transportation.

AdQuick: Do you have additional ideas for how brands can be supporting the American people during this pandemic?
Emily: Right now, the pandemic has caused this shift where people feel a lot less polarized from one another. That means there are huge areas for brands to either connect with communities, or to separate big business from community.

National brands have a grand opportunity to make a connection with people right now. I’d suggest that national brands to focus on creative campaigns to help support people during these trying times. Potential concepts include mental health messaging, initiatives that give back to the community or help small business, special deals, and easier ways to access products. Support in any way is the biggest thing companies can share.

AdQuick: What campaigns would you like to see that aren't currently being run?
Emily: I would love to see campaigns that focus on hope. Right now we are being bombarded in all directions with a lot of tragic news daily. It would be powerful for advertisers create campaigns that spread positivity throughout the industry.

Contributors Statement

This campaign (and blog post) was a collaboration between the AdQuick team, including Doug Guan, Nina Boost, Elle Dietrich, Payton Biddington, and Chris Gadek.

If you'd like to learn how out of home can work with your unique marketing campaign and business, send a quick email to [email protected] or call (213) 986-6179.


The opinions expressed are those of the authors. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. Please be sure to consult with your internal team of stakeholders to assess your specific needs before adapting any practices from this blog, as your own.