Playing Outside: Today’s Evolving Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising has been part of the media mix for a long time, but over the past couple of years, advertisers have been getting progressively more creative in order to catch and hold your attention. Some recent billboard creative has even gone viral online which is pretty amazing. The medium crossed over and its reach grew exponentially.

But what is it that makes this cross-over happen? Gimmicks? Great creative? Tie-backs to the product? If you ask me, you need all of the above – not to mention a great media buy.


Think back to Rethink’s sneezing bus shelter for Science World:

I remember seeing this creative all over the internet when it first came out. It was picked up by a lot of different creative sites and media outlets. However, pick-up isn’t the be all and end all for a campaign. In most cases, the bottom line is to drive business for the client.


What better way to catch the attention of drivers then clouds of billowing smoke on the side of the road? That’s what BVK, USA thought when they created this unique billboard for Avera Health, promoting their website The creative was meant to draw attention to the importance of having an emergency medical plan for you and your family. It drove thousands of people online within the first week, but after a few days, the fire department shut it down because it was such a distraction.


Colenso BBDO, Auckland decided to literally reshape billboards with its campaign for the HBO series “Hung”. The show is about a basketball coach who becomes a call-boy to make extra money on the side after his house burns down.


In North Carolina, you can literally smell the outdoor advertising., an online grocery store decided to introduce viewers to their new line of meat with not only delectable, giant visuals, but by smell. Paired with this billboard was a machine that pumped the smell of hickory BBQ and black pepper. This was the first scented billboard of its kind in the country and that drummed up a ton of media coverage.

There are so many more examples of evolving outdoor advertising, including 3D billboards, steaming bus shelters, and living billboards. Face it. We will stop at nothing to get your attention and the change in your pocket.


One last creative I wanted to share with you is a hand-carved billboard for Lay’s Kettle Cooked potato chips located in San Francisco. I find it very interesting. With all of these new technologies and advancements in the world of outdoor, it almost seems like this is a nostalgic step backward. And that’s how the company wanted to show product tie-in. Hand-crafted artisan billboard advertising hand-crafted, artisan chips. It took ten days to complete this piece of work.



Filed under You Better Work

3 responses to “Playing Outside: Today’s Evolving Outdoor Advertising

  1. Pingback: Your Creative Stinks « Dame Wallis

  2. Pingback: Creative That Sticks | Dame Wallis

  3. Pingback: Let them eat cake | Dame Wallis

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