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Taking Flight: An interview with Sarah Parkes

Sarah Parkes

“It was the challenge of a new media arena, particularly one in such good health and with significant growth potential which enticed me to move into the out-of-home advertising industry. This, coupled with the exciting airport environment where there are endless opportunities to create fantastic advertising campaigns, really got me hooked.”

Sarah Parkes, Managing Director at Eye Airports has not always been at the forefront of digital signage. In fact, it was only several years ago that the above elements convinced her to transition from a twenty-year career at CDS Global, part of the Hearst Corporation, into out-of-home. At CDS Global, Sarah had progressed from telesales to Group Managing Director for the UK and Australia.
Having taken a post at Eye, Sarah retained the title of Managing Director as Airport Partners purchased the company, positioning the newly formed Eye Airports as the largest airport advertising company in the UK.

Integrating the two businesses called for a complete restructuring to ensure maximum revenue growth and optimum service delivery, a task that drove Sarah’s team to establish Eye Airports as serious innovators in the digital signage space. “Throughout my career, I have learned the importance of relationships, service and the secret of under-promising and over-delivering,” said Sarah jovially. “I tell other newcomers to jump in with both feet! This is such an exciting industry and one of the few that is on the up.”

Sarah notes she has been seeing an explosion of colour and creativity within the out-of-home industry as of late, as brands look to engage with consumers in surprising and captivating ways. She believes the growth of digital signage and its interactive capabilities have helped fuel this, driven by client demand for which there seems to be no abatement. Touchscreen functionality, integration with mobile and social media, and greater audience measurement have also contributed.

To make the digital signage proposition even more attractive to brands and agencies, Eye Airports launched the “Redefining Airports” project at the end of 2014, marking an unprecedented £8m investment in advertising media and technology across their network. This remains the largest UK airport advertising investment this decade and an opportunity for brands to reach the biggest domestic airport audience. The company plans to attract a raft of new advertisers with this proposition. “We are very proud that, to date, Eye Airports’ clients include agencies, specialists and brands in a range of fields, such as Tesco, Land Rover, IBM, O2 and Chanel,” said Sarah.

The Land Rover campaign utilized sound immersion as its “driving” force to engage with audiences in a unique way while working with Tesco enabled jetsetters to order shopping via home delivery after returning from holidays. To do so, Tesco and Eye created a virtual supermarket at Gatwick Airport that seamlessly incorporated mobile so users could scan barcodes from the display.

“I take a huge amount of pride in the success of both the company and people I work with,” concludes Sarah, as she shares some of her favourite projects. This Leading Lady knows a thing or two about taking the digital signage industry to new heights.

About Sarah Parkes 

Sarah Parkes is the Managing Director of Eye Airports, the UK’s airport advertising expert with offices in London, Manchester and Harrogate.

Sarah has been with Eye Airports for two years, and under her leadership, the company has been led through a great deal of change.  In February 2013, the UK’s regional airport advertising specialist, Airport Partners, purchased Eye UK from previous Australian owners, Ten Network Holdings Limited. In so doing, Eye Airports were positioned as the largest airport advertising company in the UK, representing airports right across the country and reaching over 102 million airport passengers annually. The two entities combined their key strengths to create the leading company in the aviation media industry. Eye Airports invest in the very best talent, deliver leading-edge technology, have proven airport media effectiveness through specialized neuroimaging research and have a proven Regional sales model for generating continued revenue growth.  They are now the only player in the Airport Advertising market that offer a truly national proposition.

Furthermore, under Sarah’s guidance, the company launched the innovative ‘Amplify’ mobile solution, enabling advertisers to extend their OOH campaign onto mobile through QR, NFC, text and wifi. Eye Airports’ clients include agencies, specialists and brands in a range of fields, including Land Rover, Hyundai, O2, Tesco, Thomson, Easyjet and many more.

Sarah is a charismatic leader and corporate strategist with a proven track record of driving successful business ventures and delivering world-class strategy.
Previously, Sarah was Group Managing Director of CDS Global, a leading international provider of outsourced business solutions to the media industry and part of the Hearst Corporation.  She spent twenty-one years at CDS Global, beginning as a Contact Centre Manager and ending her career there as Group Managing Director UK & Australia. Prior to CDS Global, Sarah enjoyed an early career in finance.

Originally from Jersey, Sarah is married with two children and loves to cycle and run. She is an adventure junkie, having completed a 300km Andes to Amazon bike ride and is often training for marathons and other sporting events.