The Future of Special Builds: What We’re Predicting for 2020

It’s no secret that digital OOH has expanded rapidly over the last few years and is continuing to do so. In the UK alone, there are now over 11,000 digital screens which are seen at least once a week by two-thirds of Brits. As the demand for digital continues to grow, we’re seeing more and more premium traditional sites across the landscape evolving to accommodate this demand.

So, what does this expansion and change in our landscape mean for the future of special builds and bespoke OOH installations?  Over the years we in the Creative Solutions team at Talon have created and executed some incredible campaigns, from our recent work with the BBC on Dracula, Seven Worlds One Planet and His Dark Materials to the campaign last year when McDonald’s turned the Waterloo IMAX into a giant Big Mac.

We welcome the growth of DOOH but, at the same time, want to ensure these changes to our landscape don’t lead to a loss of creative special build executions on traditional formats.

Luckily, we have already seen and developed ways to adapt our approach and ensure creativity continues to thrive in the new landscape.  Enter the “new special builds” which we expect to grow across the OOH landscape in 2020.


The first key player in the new army of special builds is the mural.  Completely breaking out of the confines of OOH sites, we’ve seen murals explode over the last couple of years. Offering a new canvas, flexibility of space and location, huge potential with paints, materials and special techniques this ‘special build’ can transform blank spaces into art which is weaved into the fabric of our cities.

Over the last few months, we have delivered a huge range of murals including bespoke 3D builds, scented activations, projection mapped campaigns and, most recently, UV murals which we delivered for the video-sharing app, TikTok, to activate their sponsorship of the 2020 Brit Awards.


Projection offers us a huge scope for creativity, whether we are delivering high impact mapped content onto iconic locations or delivering guerrilla messages at scale nationwide, we can take clients’ messages directly to their audiences in a disruptive and impactful way.

We have worked with London icons, County Hall and the London Eye on the South Bank, for numerous campaigns and there are a host of big buildings across key cities who are open to working with us on projections.  The scope to dominate UK skylines with projection are plentiful.

Projections can also be used in conjunction with murals, making them even bigger, better and brighter.  Like UV paint, projection mapping completely transforms murals by adding a digital layer once the sun has gone down.  In 2018 we worked with YouTube Music on several artist murals, including one which was projection-mapped for the band The 1975, in their hometown of Manchester.  In 2019 we worked with Mac to elevate a mural targeting London Fashion Week events at Shoreditch House by projection mapping content onto a mural on Ebor Street.

Digital Installations 

Very much aligned with the growth of digital OOH, we are huge fans of digital installations. Just like murals and projections, digital LED installations aren’t confined to the standard shapes of OOH panels and can be placed just about anywhere – with permission, of course!  Last year we worked with Timberland who wanted us to showcase some bespoke content they had created but the display needed sound.  The audio requirement limited us in terms of existing DOOH panels, we wanted the installation to last for more than just one day and we wanted to put it somewhere with huge audiences.  Working with two of our production partners we not only built a bespoke LED array, we also dressed in with concrete effect vinyl and foliage to have a set which was in keeping with the content we were showing.

Special Builds 

Our key media owner partners also see the value in tradition large format static special builds and there are still some really great sites which we can use for these executions.  Clients’ appetites don’t appear to be waning, conversely, we are being briefed on bigger and more creative special builds than ever before.  I believe the ambition is very much still there to build brand fame through impactful special builds so, I for one, hope that we are able to keep some high impact static sites to run these builds on. Hopefully there is room within our landscape for digital OOH to continue to grow without special build creativity having to diminish. With these ‘new special builds’ and other constantly evolving opportunities I have high hopes that there is much more innovation to come in 2020.

Catherine Knight, Creative Solutions Project Director