William K. (Bill) Reagan started Reagan Outdoor Advertising in 1965, the year he and his wife Julia were married. The company and the marriage are thriving, and their three adult children are active in the business. Reagan Outdoor Advertising now operates 4,000 billboard faces in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Texas. Bill Reagan is completing a term as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). Insider interviewed Reagan this week.
Bill, how did you get involved in the out of home business?
When I was in high school, I read a story in FORTUNE magazine about three men who made $3 million in three years by starting an ad business. I was intrigued, so I began to regularly visit with a gentleman down the street from my house who owned a billboard company (his son and I played football together). We discussed the ad business weekly, and soon I was working for him after school and on the weekends. Once I realized I had made enough money in three months to equal the purchase of a new Cadillac, I was hooked.
What have you learned in the course of a 52-year career in out of home advertising?
We work in a wonderful industry. I often participate in seminars at Harvard Business School in which we review case studies, and each time I’m astonished by the many problems at other businesses. Now, that’s not to say OOH doesn’t have its challenges, but my goodness this is a wonderful industry to work in, with some pretty wonderful people.
What three trends in the out of home industry are you thinking about right now?
- Creative Impact
The OOH industry is producing outstanding creative and graphics. Digital OOH creative is also coming along very well; designers are showcasing the creative power of OOH with inventive campaigns. The beauty of OOH creative is one of its major strong points today.
Today’s OOH audience is the best it’s ever been. More people are on the road, more miles are being driven, and commute times typically are not getting shorter.
- Autonomous Cars
The autonomous car is on every OOH professional’s mind, and if it’s not, it should be. While I don’t think I’ll see a truly driverless world in my lifetime, this is a trend to watch carefully. What will drivers be looking at if not the road? With driver assistance, will drivers feel less anxiety in the car, allowing them to pay more attention to OOH? Rest assured, OAAA is all over this trend and working to find answers to these questions and more.
What do you feel is one of your greatest accomplishments as OAAA Chair of the Board?
Clearly the greatest contribution I made was convincing Nancy Fletcher to renew her contract as OAAA president & CEO. She has run a tight, successful ship for 25 years, and I was happy to help ensure the ship will be properly steered for several more years. I was handed a very easy job under her leadership.