Outdoor campaigns where marketers cleverly played off the real world to make their brands instantly relevant and potent.
2015-16 have given us a few noteworthy outdoor ad campaigns so far. Here is my list of eight stand-out campaigns:
1. McDonald’s (Canada)
There isn’t much that can compare to the sheer beauty and wonder of the rising sun in the morning sky, other than of course that of the rising of McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, in all its greasy, deep-fried glory on a digital billboard at about the same time. Movements on the billboards are synchronised with the sun, so that the two rise into view together. The Egg McMuffin ascends, beckoning you towards the golden arches; calling out to you to rise as the time for breakfast approaches. In another billboard, placed on the way to a ski resort, travellers are informed about the weather by a McCafe espresso, the level of whipped cream indicating the level of snow in the area.
2. Hong Kong Cleanup
In a place so severely plagued by pollution, where over 6.5 million tons of trash are produced every year, how do you stop litterbugs running amok, trashing the streets and wreaking havoc? According to Hong Kong Cleanup, public shaming is the way to go. The formula is simple: clean up after yourself or risk the widespread humiliation that comes with having to look at a bald, humanoid-ish version of your oblivious little mug on a giant screen in public. The campaign uses DNA phenotyping technology, which uses DNA samples gathered from trash left on the streets to produce a sketch of the culprit, putting a face to the offender and using it in their campaign. The thought of living in their own waste might not make much of a difference to a litterbug, but the fear of public embarrassment might.
3. Disney Parks (USA)
What better way to warm up in the cold New York winter than to have your heart explode with delight as your childhood (or adulthood, I’m not judging) heroes jump out from behind a screen, offering you a little impromptu meet and greet? It’s hard to hold back tears of happiness and joy when Mickey Mouse blesses you with a break dance battle, or Buzz Lightyear gives you a high-five. Shoppers were startled by various Disney characters shadowing them from behind a screen and later coming out, resulting in the crowd breaking into smiles and applause. Disney promoted Disney parks in the most heartwarmingly Disney way possible.
4. Uber (Canada)
Uber won many hearts by delivering people’s loved ones who were under the influence of alcohol safe and sound after midnight. Drunk-driving accidents triple after midnight and to combat this issue Uber installed a Breathalyzer in Toronto, so if someone’s blood alcohol level was over the legal limit, they were offered a free ride home courtesy Uber.. Other than the publicity gained, the service also garnered praise for spreading awareness about drunk driving and helping prevent accidents that may have otherwise occurred.
5. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home (UK)
It’s hard to resist not breaking down in tears when you see a dog wagging its tail and staring at you with round puppy-dog eyes. It’s even harder not to completely cease existing due to the overload of cuteness when it starts to follow you around. The people at Battersea’s took advantage of this delicate human condition and had a virtual dog follow people around via digital billboards. They were given leaflets with hidden RFID chips, which triggered a dog to follow them around. People were pleasantly surprised and slightly taken aback by their new furry virtual friend. This adorable campaign resulted in a significant increase in traffic on Battersea’s website, yet again proving one well-known fact: you cannot resist the cute.
6. Apple (Worldwide)
Photos taken on an iPhone are good, this is a well-known fact. However, as proof that the camera on the iPhone 6, was at a standard unlike any other, Apple rummaged through countless photos shot on the iPhone 6, blew up the best and put them on their billboards. The user-generated campaign acted as a testament to the unprecedented quality of the camera, resulting in a stunning ad campaign that you couldn’t help but stare at.
7. Reebok (Korea)
Reebok took a playful turn in its ad campaign in a bid to promote exercise and healthy living. They used facial recognition to randomly pitch two onlookers against each other in a reaction race, tapping buttons on the walls and floor as they lit up. As the game ended, the screen opened to the surprise of the players, revealing a brand new pair of Reebok ZPump sneakers as the prize.
8. Women’s Aid UK
Few billboards are as poignant and carry as strong a message as the ones set up by Women’s Aid UK for International Women’s Day. The digital billboards, which use facial recognition, depict a severely bruised woman, whose injuries heal faster as more and more people pay attention to her. The campaign sheds light on the very real issue of domestic violence and urges people not to turn a blind eye at the abuse that may be taking place around them.
Rajaa Moini is a student, freelance graphic designer and an aspiring journalist.