GEOFENCING: Gap coupon promotion

Waiting for a bus in an exercise in tedium. Being offered a virtual coupon while waiting, however, might make the whole public transit thing a little bit easier. That’s exactly what Gap did for its spring 2012 Be Bright campaign. To support traditional outdoor advertising, the company partnered with out-of-home ad company Titan to create a campaign based around geofencing--the establishment of a digital perimeter around a set location. When phone-toting people enter the fenced area, they can have information pushed to the phones. The Gap set up locations around bus shelters near its stores in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. When mobile phone users were within those geographic parameters and happened to be browsing or killing time by playing Words with Friends (a high likelihood), they were served an ad featuring a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase at the Gap, conveniently located nearby, of course. Considered to be the first geofencing retail campaign of its kind, it garnered over 2.5 million impressions with a comparatively high click-through rate of 0.93% (versus the average 0.2%), during its two-week run, signaling strong potential for being able to communicate with customers at the right place and time.

FACIAL RECOGNITION: Plan U.K. "Because I’m A Girl"

Of course no discussion of outdoor advertising would be complete without a Minority Report reference. There are many technologies and executions in existence today that reflect the film’s vision of ads that recognize a passerby and address him with a precisely targeted ad. But facial recognition is perhaps the gateway to this (dystopian?) future scenario. The technology has been used in a number of campaigns, including this one for charity organization Plan U.K. The bus shelter ad, which appeared on London’s Oxford Street, used the technology to detect gender and target different messages at women and men. Female viewers could see a short video on the lot of girls around the world who aren’t able to make their own life choices; men, however, were only shown stats on the issue to make a point about the issue of choice. See the video demo here.


Every brand wants to get their consumers to “Like” them on Facebook. But once the friend-collecting frenzy dies down, the question becomes, what do you do with all those passive likes? Volkswagen U.K. decided to big up its fans in exchange for compliments paid to its new up! model. “Big up the up!”, created by DDB UK, encouraged fans to tell VW what they liked about the new compact city car and then placed a personalized compliment and photo on digital billboards across the U.K. While the campaign was a fun way to give fans five seconds of fame, it was also a shrewd way to leverage, acknowledge, and reward the passive support of a Facebook like. Watch the video here.


When Tic Tac launched its Shake It Up campaign, which encourages consumers to explore new ways of doing things, it took a page out of its own book by enhancing its traditional advertising with a highly inventive augmented reality experience. Through its Tic Tac Viewr mobile app, created by Merkley+Partners and developed by Total Immersion, consumers could access a series of microgames based on quirky facts about daily routines by scanning print and outdoor ads. Further shaking things up, Tic Tac also launched its first Times Square billboard, where through the app users could see themselves on the big screen, and then share it with their friends on Facebook.

AUGMENTED REALITY: Marks and Spencer augmented reality Valentine’s ad

For Valentine’s Day, retailer Marks and Spencer used the augmented reality platform, Aurasma, to bring its gift suggestions to life for travelers in London’s Waterloo station. Created by agencies Profero and RKCR/Y&R, the ad encouraged people to download the Aurasma app and point their smartphone or tablet at the billboard. From there, the model on the ad springs to life, and when viewed on a device, the billboard transforms into a live fashion show of M&S’s selection of V-Day delicates. A tap of the screen then directs to the Marks and Spencer site.

AUGMENTED REALITY: Lynx Excite “Angels Will Fall”

For your average Axe man, if given the choice of how to augment their reality, they’d likely choose a scarcely clad young woman. Thank heavens for the Lynx “Angels Will Fall” augmented reality project then, which allowed passersby in London’s Victoria station and outside the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham to virtually interact with a fallen angel when standing on a halo positioned in front of a large digital outdoor screen. Bartle Bogle Hegarty and out-of-home agency Kinetic created the stunt to promote Lynx Excite body spray. See the video here.

AUGMENTED REALITY: National Geographic Channel Installation

National Geographic is famous for taking people on journeys to the farthest and darkest reaches of the world through its programming. In Hungary, National Geographic channel brought its content to the people with an augmented reality app created by AppShaker. By placing an AR marker in front of a large digital screen in malls across the country, shoppers could stop and view themselves on screen interacting with the stars of Nat Geo’s programming, such as cheetahs and dolphins, and dinosaurs and astronauts. Watching kids crouch down trying to air-pet a cheetah is decidedly more charming than other AR executions that prompt young men to air-hump angels (see: Lynx).
See video here.

AUGMENTED REALITY: Beck’s "Green Box Project"

Art is normally in the eye of the beholder, but for Beck’s it is in the eye of the smartphone holder. Last July the beer company, with agency Mother London, launched the Green Box Project, a three-year-long “global cultural commissioning project” that will virtually showcase the work of artists through an augmented reality app. Co-curated by, and including work from, British fashion photographer Nick Knight and musician Sam Spiegel, commissioned artists include Austra, jello architects, Bompass & Parr, Lucky Me, Hussein Chalayan, Shaniqwa Jarvis, Warpaint, and Arne Quinze, whose 200-foot-high digital sculpture of a roaring flame atop the Statue of Liberty kicked off the project. Green Boxes are placed in major cities like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Manchester, Rome, and Milan near which people are able to view the artwork, and Beck’s plans to commission hundreds of more artists during the art installation-cum-ad campaign’s run.

MOBILE/GAMES: McDonald’s "Pick ‘n Play"

Game play and couponing are surely a winning combination, as was the case with this McDonald’s campaign. Visitors to a central square in Stockholm were invited to use their mobile phones to play a public game of Pong, which progressively got harder. Interestingly, this game didn’t require users to use an app--a barrier to some who aren’t interested in a download relationship with a brand--but rather used a website and GPS that identified when a user was within the gaming area. Those who successfully played the game, created by DDB Stockholm, for over 30 seconds were immediately rewarded with a digital coupon for free food at a nearby McD’s.
Watch the video here.

UTILITY: Pedigree’s poop bag bus shelters

Brand utility, where brands turn advertising into a useful service or product for their consumers, has been a buzzword for years. But for anyone who’s ever had the distinct displeasure of stepping in a steaming pile, or, been walking the family hound and realized too late that they were bagless, Pedigree’s poop bag bus shelters soar well beyond being useful and venture more into community service territory. For the month of March, Promixity BBDO turned a bus shelter next to a popular downtown Toronto park into a poop bag dispenser, at once promoting Pedigree’s digestion-aiding Chicken & Rice Dry Food with prebiotics and sparing innocent park-goers from the byproduct of forgotten poop bags.

UTILITY: Caribou Coffee’s oven bus shelters

Depending on the time of year, the phrase "It’s like an oven in here" can be a pejorative. In the dead of a Minneapolis winter, however, standing in an oven actually sounds appealing. Minneapolis agency Colle+McVoy this past January offered commuters such an opportunity when it transformed a number of bus shelters into tempting oven-like hot boxes, complete with heating coils, to raise awareness about Caribou Coffee’s Hot ‘n Wholesome menu of breakfast sandwiches. This inventive campaign likely left people feeling pretty good about Caribou Coffee, and surely left them with feeling in their extremities.

SMELL! TASTE! FEEL! HEAR!: McCain Ready Made Jackets bus shelter

If the end of a long day usually induces a serious case of the stomach rumbles, then standing in a bus shelter drenched in the scent of tasty baked potatoes is likely to send you running to the nearest shop for some quick-cooking spuds. Or that’s the hope of London agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay, which for the launch of McCain Ready Made Jackets installed 3-D fiberglass baked potatoes (jacket potatoes in Brit-speak) that heat up and emit the smell of cooking potatoes with the press of a button. Not wanting to leave consumers hanging, the shelters--installed in Manchester, York, London, Nottingham, and Glasgow--were also outfitted with a coupon dispenser.

SMELL! TASTE! FEEL! HEAR!: Mr. Kipling cake-dispensing bus shelter

Upping the ante from mere olfactory appeal, this bus shelter for Mr. Kipling Cake-to-Go delivers the goods. Literally. To promote its “snap pack” travel-friendly design, bus shelters were turned into snack dispensers, making time spent waiting for a bus all the sweeter. At the touch of a button, commuters were treated to a free Angel Slice at bus shelter 19 locations around the city that were also outfitted with a spray that emitted the smell of the cake. Throughout the week-and-a-half-long campaign created by agency 101 London, Mr. Kipling doled out 130,000 Angel Slices (that’s 500 per day), with many of the shelters seeing long lines of cake seekers.

SMELL! TASTE! FEEL! HEAR!: NRMA musical bus shelter

Given the rash of ingenious uses of bus shelters, we’re going to conclude that public transit is pretty much intolerable. Happily, advertisers are rushing to the emotional rescue, providing as we’ve seen previously here, nourishment, comfort and scrumptious smells. Now, we can add entertainment to the list. In Australia, NRMA Insurance recently outfitted transit shelters with giant speakers and a playlist to help commuters pass the time--and advertise that their insurance covers sick car stereos and other automotive extras, of course. Created by agency Whybin\TBWA\Tequila, Sydney, the stereo is activated with the scan of a QR code, which prompts people to "like" NRMA. Once the obligatory social media exchange takes place, out come the tunes.


The 14 Most Arresting Interactive Outdoor Ads: From Vibrating Benches To Geofencing

As the mobile ad space evolves, more creative energy is being spent on interactive outdoor advertising. Here, a roundup of the best digital and otherwise interactive outdoor creativity—from facial recognition, augmented reality, and location-aware ads to poop bags.

While the shift in marketing budgets from traditional media to digital has generally represented a loss for the former, out-of-home advertising has been one "traditional" medium that’s grown—creatively and to some extent financially—along with digital. Now that the digital ad world is evolving further, with emphasis shifting from the web to mobile (see: Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram), the outdoor space has become an even richer creative landscape for brands.

Of course outdoor has always provided a giant creative canvas, and some of the ad industry’s highest profile campaigns over the last several years have revolved around innovative uses of what we had always known as the poster (see the 2009 Trillion Dollar Campaign for The Zimbabwean Newspaper that turned worthless bank notes into posters and global awareness).

But the out-of-home category has exploded in the last few years with the growing sophistication of digital technologies, especially mobile, social, and location-based apps. Outdoor is where the rubber of digital meets the road, of, well, the road—outdoor ads bring digital to the streets.

In July 2011, out-of-home agency Kinetic Worldwide released a global digital out-of-home study that suggested that "with the rise of smartphones and tablets, mobile consumers have an increased appetite for engagement and interactivity with digital out-of-home."

Here we survey some creative, useful, and even tasty displays of interactive outdoor marketing. Click through the slide show above to see some of the most notable out-of-home campaigns in the categories of geofencing, augmented reality, social media, mobile, utility—even smell!

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  • Elizabeth Farha

    Interesting article that highlights the growing significance of outdoor advertising. Digital billboards is affordable and works. Pay as you go, start with any budget, pick your locations and manage your campaign ads with real time flexibility. Visit the largest independent outdoor advertising agency in North America today -

  • sundeep

    It's the time of interactive advertisement now but which advertisements drive and generate sales from people is more important because that's the ultimate goal for advertisers as well as for brands.

  • Guest

    Sorry to be pedantic, but it took me a good 30 seconds to figure out where the tiny tiny carousel was...

    You might want to talk to your IA/UX guys about that one!
     - It's tiny
     - It looks like it could be part of the banner
     - It's above the title