Advertising that restores a city’s cultural heritage and cuts pollution…meet Urban Vision

The opportunity to advertise some of the UK’s most iconic buildings and historical monuments would be an ambition for many media buyers but what if you could advertise whilst raising funds to restore the cultural heritage and help clean up pollution in the city? Sound too good to be true? Well, meet Urban Vision.

In the past 13 years, Urban Vision has collaborated with public and private institutions to complete more than 230 restoration projects. Iconic buildings and monuments in Europe’s most culturally significant cities have been sensitively restored with more than £100 million generated by display advertising on scaffolding during the refurbishment works.

Partnering with leading advertising brands, such as British Airways, P&G and Sky, Urban Vision has collaborated with some of Europe’s leading public institutions, including the Vatican. It has also secured permission to sponsor renovation projects with some of Europe’s most important local authorities for works at prestigious monuments such as the Milan Cathedral (ongoing) and the Barcaccia Fountain (by Bernini), close to the Spanish steps in Rome.
And thanks to significant additional investment in the business, the company, which has already taken on sites in the UK, is now expanding further across Europe. WPP, the world’s largest communications services group, and Media Vision, a subsidiary of Gemini Holding, a Sawiris group asset management company backed by Naguib Sawiris, have each taken stakes in the business.

Combating pollution

As well as the cultural benefits, Urban Vision’s outdoor display advertising now also brings environmental benefits to the cities where they advertise using a unique pollution combating material. In 2017, Urban Vision signed an exclusive partnership with Italian start-up Anemotech for the distribution and installation rights of The Breath®, a ground-breaking material with the ability to purify air. The Breath uses nano-molecular technology and a city’s natural air flow to remove harmful pollutants such as nitrous oxides, sulphur oxides and particulates from the atmosphere. Over a year, 10 square metres of the innovative fabric can absorb pollution from the equivalent of 13,650 petrol or 5,475 diesel cars.

Culturally aware

To establish its position as Europe’s first green and heritage focused outdoor advertising company, Urban Vision has equipped its business with a unique set of skills.

As Corporate Golden Donors to Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI), the leading Italian non-profit trust, specialising in the preservation of national environmental, natural, historic and artistic heritage, Urban Vision’s team of specialists can be counted on to ensure that its innovative outdoor communication solutions respect the local cultural, architectural and historical context.

Rather than sitting back and waiting for suitable projects, the company has set-up an Arts & Communication business unit to identify culturally significant buildings and monuments, cultural exhibits or even sculptures and other masterpieces in need of restoration and to secure innovative and empathetic partners to sponsor each potential project. Urban Vision then works closely with the partners to create an integrated communication programme around the project – engaging the public whilst sensitively raising awareness of the project and the sponsor. As with the renovations of the Ponte di Rialto in Venice, the team can also help with marketing and communication programmes to assist other organisations’ restoration work. Using GoPro cameras fixed to the protective headwear of the restoration specialists, the team was able to show first-hand footage of the repair programme via public viewing sites around the bridge to explain the work to the general public.

Cross-media expertise

Urban Vision brings its own dedicated, cross-media communication unit to support clients at each project by offering a blend of emerging technologies, such as Virtual and Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence, alongside existing marketing techniques of social, web and outdoor advertising to ensure maximum impact from campaigns.

These skills were recently on display during Milano Music Week when Sky, in collaboration with Urban Vision, turned a maxi billboard into an X Factor live stage in Via Garibaldi in Milan for the talent show stars to play their hits.

Ongoing success

And Urban Vision’s recognition and awareness continues to grow across Europe. The first high profile London projects in Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square have been completed. Urban Vision has also recently been confirmed as the official media partner for Pompeii, the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The company has been asked to provide its expertise on outdoor communications for high-profile initiatives and events and to boost the ancient Roman town’s social media activities by creating new content and securing sponsorship.