How a Dallas Skyline Icon Became a Beacon of Hope (and Good Advice)
Images of the Omni’s LED Display Capture the City During an Unprecedented TimeBY Caitlin Clark // 04.08.20
It’s hard to remember the Dallas skyline before the Omni’s LED-light display. Since opening in 2011, the hotel’s 23-story façade has been a regular subject for photographers, thanks to dynamic light shows, timely sports shout-outs, or advertisers looking to brand our city’s iconic skyline.
A few weeks ago, however, the Omni’s messaging took on a different tone. And, though most had already begun to shelter in place as concerns about the coronavirus finally hit the city, the Dallas skyline was still easily glimpsed from a cellphone screen. The LED message making the virtual rounds was simple and to the point: “Wash Your Hands.”
Similar displays followed, including “Stay Home,” “Be Kind,” and “Alone Together,” branding our city’s skyline with simple and universal messages of hope and reassurance in place of corporate logos. Images of the Omni’s additions to the skyline could end up becoming an indelible representation of Dallas during this unprecedented time.
To learn more what goes into programming 3.8 miles of iconic LED lights, PaperCity spoke to Amber Bufkin, marketing manager for Omni Dallas.
The first message I remember seeing captured online was “Wash Your Hands.” Was that the first COVID-related message the Omni put up?
Yes, we thought the message was concise and light-hearted, yet to the point. A lot of people couldn’t believe we put an elementary task on our lights, but after we did, people started to pay attention and engage on social media. We believe it served its purpose.
Are there any more COVID-related messages you all have thought of that you either plan to put up or passed on?
We’ve run “Flatten the Curve,” “Be Kind,” “Stay Home,” and a thank-you shout-out to our health heroes – all important messages during this global crisis. We’re repeating some of these on a nightly basis, as well as creating new ones. We don’t want to spoil anything, but we have some coming up that we believe will touch our community.
Is there a team responsible for coming up with what we see on screen?
A small team with leaders from the hotel, asset manager, and the city of Dallas have collective input to ensure we have appropriate sentiment and messaging. We understand there’s a level of responsibility in having the largest billboard in Dallas — and perhaps the world — so we always want to ensure it’s appropriate and relevant.
What’s the process of getting a message approved for the Omni’s screen?
Under normal circumstances, our messaging is reserved for clients and groups hosting events at Omni Dallas, and this language is usually written in the contract. However, given the special circumstances of COVID-19, we felt we had a responsibility to share the very basic guidelines and recommendations in an effort to keep our city and community safe.
People have been really responding to the images of the Dallas skyline, thanks to the Omni’s additions. Is there a social media mention you particularly enjoyed seeing?
In general, we loved seeing the engagement on social media. “Wash your Hands” was a simple but important reminder that really elevated the basic recommendation to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The screen messaging for the Omni tends to support local happenings, but these images could reach people globally as a representation of Dallas during the pandemic.
We agree, and sometimes it does. We understand there’s a big responsibility in having such a large billboard that’s representative of Omni Hotels & Resorts and Dallas. We always work with the City to ensure our messaging is impactful and timely, yet appropriate and relevant.
What have been your favorite designs that the Omni has displayed over the years?
Some of our favorites are simple ones like “Smile,” “Friday,” and seeing our home teams’ logos light up the Dallas skyline during live game broadcasts.