Guide to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America Slide Library, 1891-1994
The Outdoor Advertising Association of America Slide Library spans the years 1891 through the 1990s, with the bulk of the collection originating in the 1950s and later. The collection documents over a hundred years of outdoor advertising primarily in the United States, plus some international campaigns from several other continents. The Slide Library is a large collection, almost entirely comprised of slides of billboards, exhibiting a grand range of graphic artistry, advertising campaigns, and marketing strategies. A smaller group of images supports the ad collection with views of artwork, billboard construction and other related images. In addition to over 62,000 slides, there are a few early glass slides, as well as transparencies, a small number of paper files, and six audiocassettes accompanying slide presentations. Many images were submitted by outdoor advertising companies over a number of years to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) as entries in annual national competitions to determine the best poster designs. The OAAA currently sponsors the OBIE Awards, which were preceded by awards programs under various names and sponsorships starting in the early 1930s. The award is modeled after the ancient Egyptian obelisk, considered by many the earliest form of outdoor advertising. Indeed much of the collection can be seen as evidence of this awards program although only the Award Nominees Series contains slides labeled as such. Other slides probably were transferred to OAAA when companies cleaned out their back files, though the precise sources of many items are unknown. The slides were maintained at OAAA primarily as a large supply of creative examples for member companies. Researchers interested in the following subjects may find the Outdoor Advertising Association of America Slide Library especially helpful: the outdoor advertising medium itself, advertising awards, advertising design, billboard construction, and commercial art, as well as the many outdoor advertising companies, advertisers, and advertising campaigns represented.
The images, designed to attract mass audiences, depict part of American society's history - a history of consumer attitudes and desires. The collection is therefore a valuable tool in formulating not only a pictorial development of the outdoor advertising industry but of societal norms and opinions. The ads speak to the creativity of artists and designers, but they also convey a rich story of how these creators saw society at large, especially in the United States. Perhaps more importantly, ads reveal how corporations and designers felt America wanted to see itself. Such visual richness underlies the primary goals of selling goods and services and promoting ideas for the public good. There are thousands of product advertisements but also many public service ads, political issue ads, and even Happy Birthday greetings in the collection. Billboards are one direct link from corporate America, various interest groups, and their advertising specialists to consumers; and a succinct one-sided conversation designed to spur them to action.
In contrast to other types of advertising, outdoor ads were designed with the fast-moving traveler in mind. The collection documents well the evolution of the billboard's attempt to reach those on the move, especially drivers. With careful thought to what would quickly provoke interest, advertisers presented a huge range of thought from text-free images of abstract artwork to direct discourse (e.g. Vote for Nixon). Because posters were displayed for only limited time periods, and because their physical size makes them impractical to store, photography is the primary method of capturing billboard images. Most billboard photos - whether print or slide - were created to document the work of the company which posted them for their business use.
Within the Slide Library, the creative output of many outdoor advertising companies is documented, although particular creators of many of the ads are unknown. Foster and Kleiser is well represented in the collection. Other companies named in the collection include Naegele, Pacific, Turner, Eller, Donnelly, Columbus, General Outdoor, Patrick, Gannett, Lamar, United, and many others. Thousands of national campaigns are represented, but many local ads are present as well. Outdoor formats range from 19th century posters to "multi-vision" boards that automatically change views with the use of three-sided boards. Most images are of actual billboards, posters, and other outdoor advertising formats in the field, while a sizable portion are just images of the ad design itself with a plain background. There are some slides of stock posters ("Your brand name here") and other forms of outdoor advertising such as bus cards, street furniture, and truck side advertising. The vast majority of the advertisements are in English.
The first three series make up the bulk of the collection: the Award Nominees Series, the Chronological Series, and the Topical Series (by far the largest of the three). These series are made up almost completely of slides showing advertisements, usually in billboard format. All series are described further within the container list. The only other series with a sizable number of advertisements is the International Posters Series. This is where the largest concentration of international ads is found, although there are a few scattered within the other main series. Ads may also be found scattered throughout the Presentations and Presentation Slides Series.
Several additional small series contain images of related content, providing support and context to the advertisements. These include the Construction and Creation Series, the Artwork Series, the Street Scenes and Approaches Series, and the Other Outdoor Advertising Related Images Series. The Presentations and Presentation Slides Series adds insight by showing some of the internal conversation between directors and trainees, advertisers and advertising creators, and more.
The most direct route to locate any identified ad is through the Resource for Outdoor Advertising Description (ROAD) database, available in early 2003. Information about most slides in the collection has been added to this database. Researchers will be able to search for specific attributes of ads such as brand or company name, product type, and headline, as well as other types of information including slide number, date, collection name, image type, image color, outdoor advertising type, and special notes. Many database records also contain a searchable field with the outdoor advertising company's name (posting company), a field indicating if the billboard is in a rural or urban setting, information on the presence of women, children, ethnic individuals, or famous people in the ad, and the billboard's geographic location. Various slide series were entered into the database differently. Multiple searches may be required for comprehensive searching. For more information, consult Research Services Staff (email@example.com).
For more contextual information, use this collection in conjunction with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America Records, especially that collection's Physical Structure Series, and Photographs, Slides, and Negatives Series. Closely related collections in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library include the John Brennan Outdoor Advertising Survey Reports, the John Paver Papers, the John Browning Papers, the Duplex Advertising Co. Records, the H.E. Fisk Collection of War Effort Mobilization Campaigns, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America Records, the Outdoor Advertising Poster Design Collection, the Garrett Orr Papers, the R.C. Maxwell Company Records, the Howard Scott Papers, and the Strobridge Lithographing Company Advertisements.
- Outdoor Advertising Association of America Slide Library, 1891-1994
- Outdoor Advertising Association of America
- 27 Linear Feet;, 62,933 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
- For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
- Award Nominees Series, 1965-1968, 1983-1987 and undated
- Chronological Series, 1891-1994 and undated
- Topical Series, undated
- International Posters Series, 1925-1983, bulk mid-late 1960s, especially 1969
- Construction and Creation Series, 1950s-1980s and undated
- Artwork Series, 1956-1973 and undated
- Street Scenes and Approaches Series, 1930s-1980s and undated
- Other Outdoor Advertising Related Images Series, ca. 1910-1985 and undated
- Presentations and Presentation Slides Series, 1960s-1980s and undated
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. There may be a 48-hour delay in obtaining these materials.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
These slides (labeled with "SLA" prefix) were submitted to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) specifically as nominees for the national award program, most recently known as the OBIE awards. Member companies and advertisers submitted what they felt to be their best work for this national competition. The first National Contest and Exhibit of Outdoor Advertising Art was presented by the Outdoor Advertising Department of the Ad Council of the Chicago Association of Commerce in 1930. Later, sponsorship appears to have been provided by the Art Directors Club of Chicago, and perhaps other industry organizations. The Institute of Outdoor Advertising (IOA) was involved starting in 1965 until its merger with the OAAA, which continues "the OBIE" awards competition today. The OBIE award is patterned from the ancient Egyptian "obelisk," considered by many to be the earliest form of outdoor advertising. Award categories varied by year but early groupings often included Posters, Painted Bulletins, Campaigns, and Public Service (Kerwin H. Fulton medal award). Later, the number of categories grew to include emerging formats such as transit advertising and product type categories.
The competition has been known by a variety of names in the collection including the "National Competition," the "Outdoor Advertising Competition," and later, the "OBIEs." Winners were published in a serial, issued also under several different names: Advertising Outdoors, 100 Best Posters, Poster Annual, Outdoor Annual, National Competition of Outdoor Advertising Art, Outdoor Advertising Competition, and OBIE Awards (consult Duke's online catalog). These publications indicate that ads posted in one calendar year were usually eligible for the award presented the following year (recent winners can be found on OAAA's website: www.oaaa.org). Unfortunately, labeling within the collection and publications was unclear as to whether a specified year is a posting date or an award year. Years given in the list below are taken from original slide sleeves and containers. For more information on national outdoor advertising awards, consult the publications listed above, the online catalog, and Rubenstein Library Research Services Staff.
While a sizable series, only a relatively small portion of many decades of national competition nominees are represented here. It has not been determined with certainty whether the outdoor industry sponsored any awards from 1973 to 1982, but the OBIE award was not awarded during that time. This may explain most of the gap in slides from 1969 through 1982. Some transparencies also are included in this series. Labeled yellow slips were found attached to original slide sleeves, perhaps referring to slides removed at one point. Information on these slips was transferred to acid-free paper and clipped to the new archival sleeve. Some images are marked as being winners in a particular category, but most slides or sleeves have no such marking. Old notebook designations (A-1, A-2...) were maintained on the slide sleeves. Old notebooks were listed in the preliminary boxlist as follows: A-1: 33rd-35th National Competition (1965-1967); A-2: 1984; A-3: 1984; A-4: 1985; A-5: 1985; A-6: 1986; A-7: 1986; A-8: 1986; A-9: 1987; A-10: 1987; A-11: 1987; A-12: Various Designs and Awards. Hard copies of old boxlists may be found in this repository's inventory drawers.
Slides are arranged by award competition dates and were numbered in that order, all with the prefix "SLA." In this series only, slides inserted after most had already been numbered were assigned a number with an alphabetical suffix so all slides following would not have to be renumbered.
The Chronological Series slides ("SLD" and "SLG" slides) are roughly in chronological order within each box. The earlier images have a higher concentration of poster advertisements as opposed to billboards. The series is almost completely made up of advertisement slides, but there are also some street scenes and a few other slides that could be tied to a specific era.
The Topical Series is the largest group of advertisement slides in the collection and is organized by product or service type. It has been maintained in two separate but similar subseries, the second being the larger of the two. To provide meaningful organizational categories for sometimes vague products, issues, and services, each category within each subseries is in effect one of three things, (1) a product type (food, cars, etc.), (2) a sponsoring organization (armed forces, liquor stores, etc.), or (3) an ad type (public service, political ads, etc.). Read through the entire list to target a search before browsing through boxes. Advertisements are often arranged into subgroups and then alphabetically by brand name within the groups listed below. For the second subseries, see category descriptions appended to this document before searching. A large percentage of the slides are undated but range from at least 1940 through 1988. There are probably earlier images in this series as well that could not be dated precisely.
The first subseries (Subseries I, "SLP" and "SLQ" slides) is roughly organized into groups according to product types listed below. Some of the "Miscellaneous" groupings are extensive and should be consulted in a comprehensive search. These slides have been maintained in their original order. Topics may appear in more than one box.
These slides were grouped into industry standard categories. Please see category descriptions at the end of this document to facilitate your search. Often, like materials are further grouped within these categories. For ads where identity of the product was unclear, a small "Product Unclear" category was created at the end of this subseries. This subseries contains slide numbers with the following prefixes: SLS, SLT, SLU, SLV, SLW, SLX, SLY, SLZ, SLJ, SLK, and SLL.
Presumably, some of the ads in this series ("SLM" slides) were submitted for an International category of the OBIE awards program, a category added in more recent years. They are often in a smaller poster format to accommodate larger pedestrian audiences abroad. Some products featured include alcoholic beverages, concerts, cheese, travel, London transportation, beverages, museum exhibitions, festivals, ice cream, newspapers, and the Moscow Olympics. The slides are arranged by slide number.
Selected items from this series have been digitized and are available in: ROAD 2.0 Image Gallery
This small series ("SLE" slides) provides perhaps the most context for the creative process. More than just the finished product, these slide images show ads at every stage of creation from idea boards to finishing touches. Most slides show images of people working on billboards, but there are also graphics showing billboard dimensions or various billboard types, photo images of workrooms, workers at worktables, workers with equipment doing actual construction, cranes hanging large billboard segments, photos of props used to put together an image, shots of billboards at various stages of completion, close shots of trim pieces, and more. The slides are arranged by slide number.
This series contains slide images of original artwork ("SLF" slides), usually not in any advertisement format. Artwork was sometimes submitted to OAAA as part of the OBIE Awards program. Many of these slides are labeled with the artist's name such as graphic artist and painter, Luis Gordillo. Other names found in this part of the collection include Eric Lanneau, Luis Perez Minguez, T. Mixta, Boix, A. Heras, E. Borduas, Robert Burns, F.C.B. Cadell, R. McG. Coventry, G.D. Davison, John Duncan, Crawhall, George Henry, J.W. Herald, Hornel, Leslie Hunter, W.Y. MacGregor, J.Q. Pringle, Claude Breeze, Ivan Eyre, Alex Coville, and Opura Benazon. Slides are arranged by slide number.
This series ("SLH" slides) contains slides with images of street scenes, often showing long approaches to billboard sites. There are examples of outdoor advertising present, but views are from a distance. These images were used in planning and preparation for construction or to show sites to prospective clients. This series reveals the most outdoor context of time and place for the advertising. While most shots in other series are close-ups of billboards, these photo images almost always show a wider scene. Slides are arranged by slide number.
This small series ("SLN" slides) contains slides with images that did not easily fit into other categories. It includes slides of the 1975 Miss America and other campaigns designed to test or prove how well people could remember information from the outdoor medium. Various pieces of art are included, as well as a mock-up of a Signs of the Times publication cover; photographs related to a consumer survey; group portraits from industry meetings, some from as early as the 1910s; print advertisements; and portraits of advertising executives including Burr Robbins. Slides are arranged by slide number.
This series contains slides organized for individual presentations, several with scripts included. The presentations at the start of the series are the most complete. As the list continues, the presentations become less complete (e.g. lacking slides, transcripts, etc.), until only loose slides from presentations are present. The intact presentations at the start of the series were created for a variety of audiences by outdoor executives often as training devices or sales tools for prospective clients. A number of the presentations were put together by the Institute of Outdoor Advertising, the marketing arm of the industry. The scripts and slides provide a mix of information not found in other series, including an introduction to the medium, comparisons to other advertising media, and history of the industry.
Included are some historical images from the early days of outdoor advertising, but the series mostly contains mid to late 20th century images including billboard construction; shots of the creative process; labeled charts indicating the standard billboard sizes; statistics on cost, reach, frequency, and readership; and much more information about the medium in general. Though not indexed in the ROAD database, there are many images of outdoor advertising used as examples in the presentations. Some slides relate to specific companies or campaigns such as Kraft, specific markets such as Birmingham, or certain product types such as insurance or magazines. Many of the loose slides are grouped into at least partial presentations. Three of the scripted presentations have audiocassette recordings included in box PR13. There are duplicate slides in some presentations and so presumably, many were created and used in various presentations according to the need at the time. For database control purposes, individual "SLB" numbers were assigned to whole presentations.
Audio recording of script included in box PR13.
This presentation is aimed at new creative directors and discusses among other things what makes a good design and how to sell it. Audio recording of script included in box PR13.
This presentation seems designed to sell the medium to potential advertisers. Audio recording of script included in box PR13.
This presentation features slides of a campaign that tested awareness. The industry used ads with Miss America's name (Shirley Cothran) and subsequent testing as proof of outdoor advertising effectiveness.
These slides are encased in glass. Most appear to be a part of a presentation by Outdoor Advertising Incorporated including images of ads for 7-Up and Budweiser (Anheuser Busch). There is also a wide variety of street signs, spectaculars, and other signs.
The Outdoor Advertising Association of America Slide Library was created by officials in the Outdoor Advertising Association of America ( OAAA) and member organizations. OAAA is the primary professional and trade association representing the outdoor advertising industry, and was founded to promote outdoor advertising interests in the U.S. OAAA members own and operate billboards, street furniture, transit, or other outdoor advertising displays. Members also include service providers to the industry, users of the outdoor medium and others supporting its goals.
A Few Significant Dates in Outdoor Advertising History
|1891||OAAA was founded as the Associated Bill Posters' Association of the US and Canada (ABPA).|
|1901||Outdoor advertising company Foster and Kleiser opened for business in Portland and Seattle; the company later was known as Patrick Media, then Eller, then Clear Channel.|
|1906||ABPA changed its name to Associated Bill Posters and Distributors of the United States and Canada.|
|ca. 1910||Association set national standards for outdoor advertising and established the numbers of panels to be sold in each market.|
|1912||Association changed its name to the Poster Advertising Association, Inc. (PAA).|
|1912-1913||PAA established an Education Committee to encourage public service advertising donations.|
|1916||The National Outdoor Advertising Bureau was formed to inspect showings and to conduct the outdoor advertising portion of ad agency business.|
|1920||The Art Directors Club was organized, establishing standards for commercial arts through competitions and the identification of categories of commercial art.|
|1925||PAA and the Painted Outdoor Advertising Association merged to become OAAA. The Fulton Group and the Cusack Co. combined to become the General Outdoor Advertising Company.|
|1930||First National Contest and Exhibit of Outdoor Advertising Art was held under the auspices of the Outdoor Advertising Department of the Advertising Council of the Chicago Association of Commerce.|
|1941-1942||Advertising Council (initially, during WWII, the War Advertising Council) founded as a non-profit organization to coordinate selected public service campaigns.|
|1946||Raymond Loewy poster panel adopted as new 24-sheet structure for billboards.|
|1962||The first modern "multivision" painted bulletin displayed in Sacramento, Calif. Triangular sections permitted display of three different designs on a single unit.|
|1990s||Digital technology affected creation of advertising designs and display. Painted boards were replaced by computer-generated formats.|
- Advertising awards.
- Advertising--Brand name products.
- Advertising Council.
- Advertising layout and typography.
- Advertising, Outdoor--Awards--United States.
- Advertising, Outdoor--Design and construction.
- Advertising, Outdoor--Posters.
- Advertising, Outdoor--United States.
- Advertising, Public service--United States.
- Audio cassettes.
- Billboards--Design and construction.
- Billboards--United States.
- Brand name products--Marketing.
- Commercial art.
- Commercial art--Awards--United States.
- Commercial art--United States.
- Foster and Kleiser Company.
- General Outdoor Advertising Co.
- OBIE awards.
- Outdoor Advertising Association of America.
- Poster, American--20th century--United States.
- Posters--United States.
- Signs and signboards.
- John W. hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History.
[Identification of item], Outdoor Advertising Association of America Slide Library, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The Outdoor Advertising Association of America Slide Library was transferred to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1996.
Processing of this collection was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
There was already some arrangement to the collection when it came to Duke University, and this is reflected in the choice of series maintained. The Topical Series, Subseries II, was created at Duke out of the many slides that arrived unsorted. Product categories in this subseries are those used by the industry itself. A few subgroups within Topical Series, Subseries I are labeled "Miscellaneous." Some of these miscellaneous groups are extensive and should not be overlooked in a comprehensive search.
The collection contains a few negatives and loose transparencies, especially in the Award Nominees Series. These were sleeved and interfiled with the slides. Information from most of the slides in the collection was entered into the Resource for Outdoor Advertising Description (ROAD) database (available in early 2003). An "SL" number was assigned to an individual slide and placed on the slide itself, while also being used as the database record number. Certain letter combinations are restricted to certain series, but they do not necessarily match the first letter of a corresponding series or subseries. Approximate dates found on slides were usually included in the database, but many dates could not be confirmed. Gaps were left in some slide sleeves to show divisions between groups of slides that originally were banded or boxed together. Older boxlists with old notebook designations may also be found in this repository. Old slide notebook designations were maintained on the new slide sleeves and in the ROAD database. Box number prefixes (e.g. CH, TP) indicate particular series except in the case of the small series at the end of the collection, all placed together in boxes labeled "TT1" and "TT2."
Processed by Lisa C. Chandek-Stark and Lynn Pritcher.
Completed April 2002
Encoded by Lisa C. Chandek-Stark
This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.