Advertising group Ocean Outdoor has launched a £10m fund offering free ad space to the retailers and small businesses hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis.
The fund will give businesses and brands access to advertising space on the company’s network of screens in 12 UK cities.
Ocean’s out-of-home sites in London include Piccadilly Lights and Westfield, while it also operates in cities including Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
The support fund, which will be administered in partnership with local authorities, is enough to cover multiple ad campaigns for small businesses, the company said.
“For many SMEs, income streams and operating costs are under incredible strain. Ocean hopes to alleviate some of that stress through this fund,” said managing directors Phil Hall and Steve George in a joint statement.
“If we can leverage our network to help keep businesses and local economies going, or kick-start them even, then that can only be a good thing.”
It comes at a torrid time for the out-of-home advertising sector, which has been hit by both declining ad spend and plummeting footfall caused by social distancing measures during the coronavirus outbreak.
Outdoor ad giants including JC Decaux and Clear Channel have warned of a heavy impact on revenue as a result of the pandemic, while Ocean is in talks with lenders as it looks to boost its liquidity during the crisis.
Despite this, Ocean today insisted there was still an audience for out-of-home advertising, as a third of people continued to travel to work and others left home for essential trips to buy groceries or exercise.
Main image credit: Ocean Outdoor