10 Eye-Catching Ambient Ads
A Proportion JokeA Blessed MessAn Ad to Make You NervousA Stunt With a PointAn Invitation to Dive InA Call to ConserveA Play on WordsStopping TrafficRethinking the MannequinYour Fingers Do the Walking
To promote the wisdom of owning a tiny car in a big city, the global ad agency BBDO took a literal approach to advertising the Smart Fortwo in downtown Toronto with enormous bike locks, showing the ease of traveling within the city. In another nearby campaign, the company wedged a giant shoehorn behind the car, which was parked in a tiny space between two sedans. The slogan? “Fits into tight places.”
A bad spill can ruin your day, but the idea behind this outdoor campaign was to just say ‘Bring it!” says Rob Feakins, chief creative officer of ad agency Publicis. The 8-foot, 550-lb. Popsicle was actually frozen when it was placed on the Santa Monica promenade. While it melted under the sun, paper towels and real Popsicles were handed out to pedestrians. Meanwhile, in New York City, an eight-foot by three-foot cup of coffee “spilled out” onto the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue near Madison Square Garden. Feakins noted people are becoming immune to TV advertising, so ambient advertising especially outdoors can have a powerful impact; in just two days, this campaign generated 3.4 million impressions, he says.
Hauling and towing are two most important features when it comes to pickup trucks, says Brad Hensen of Team Detroit, a Michigan agency. So his team came up with this award-winning idea to leverage the open space in Ford Field, home to the Detroit Lions. Though the bricks are not all real, few can tell the difference. Suspended 10 feet above the promenade floor, the ad has been in place for two years.
A campaign for the Plastic Pollution Coalition led Rethink, an ad agency in Vancouver, to place plastic fabrications on sculptures around the city. Then, by using social media to alert followers and reporters to where they could view the giant plastic displays, the campaign was seen by thousands of people and covered in the press.
To put a spotlight on how relaxing a visit to the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Mississippi can be, Masterminds, a New Jersey-based ad agency placed an ad on a baggage belt at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Images of the resort's pool rotate around the track, and create the illusion of a couple swimming by. Production and installation costs were just a few thousands of dollars, says Masterminds' Joe McDonough, and the ad won an OBIE award in 2010.
Denver Water embraced a conservation ethic for this ambient campaign, says Stacey Chesney, a representative for the company. The initiative targeted the 1.3 million people in Colorado who are serviced by the privately-funded utility. Barrels representing the water wasted by leaky toilets were placed in high-traffic retail parking lots, while ads depicting skeletal taxis reinforced the overall message that less is more.
To find a way to generate revenue for a charity book sale in Greenville, South Carolina, that had a shoestring budget, Bounce, a local agency, obtained the right to place ads on stairs in a city building for free. The plastic wrap cost a few thousand dollars to design and make, but the payoff was huge. In the first year of the campaign, which began in 2007, more than 100,000 books were donated and $120,000 was generated in revenue. Stephen Childress, who worked on the campaign for Bounce, claims that the campaign helped turn this into the country's leading book drive.
Texas-based TM Advertising created this campaign for the Nationwide Insurance, placing a fictitious paint company in a building opposite the insurer's headquarters in Columbus, Ohio. “It talked to all audience segments with one concise message, reminding them that with Nationwide, you can be ready for whatever life has in store,” says a spokesperson. The ad can be seen from the street, and has been known to stop traffic just as the imaginary paint spill stopped this one unfortunate van.
To showcase models wearing the latest fashion, the American Eagle flagship store in New York City is outfitted with high-definition stackable display “building blocks,” created by Prysm, a California company. Each block is 25 inches in diameter (see left), and uses Laser Phosphor Display technology. Though the displays are large format and free-form, they use much less electrical power than traditional back-lit or projection products. And they can be customized easily and in much more compelling ways than traditional cardboard displays and plastic mannequins.
Yoga One in Charlette, North Carolina, wasn’t generating enough sales leads, says Phil Jones, the creative director of the “Get Stretchy” campaign, so he came up with this concept for a card that customers carry in their wallets. It's designed to be fun and functional, to get people to show it to their friends. Plus, it was cheap. The first run cost less than $100 to produce. “I love to offer the low-budget solution, Jones says. “I told them give me what you’d pay for the print ad and I’ll give you more bang for your buck.” —Eric Markowtiz