As I researched a recent article on innovative outdoor advertising, I came across quite a few examples of ads placed in unique settings. These communications, meant to surprise consumers by making their brands stand out, are referred to as "ambient" advertising by some, and "guerilla" advertising by others. Whatever the name, they brought a smile to my face, so I thought I would share them here.
1. Big Pilot Watches
I've always found the best way to tell if I like a watch is to try it on. So these Big Pilot watches printed on German bus straps might have been a very effective way to get me in a buying mood. Then again, maybe they would only remind me of how late I was.
2. Mr. Clean
I've seen a few of these crosswalk ads, but this is my favorite. You know those stripes are always pretty filthy, so seeing one really bright line is sure to get your attention. At least that's what Proctor & Gamble was hoping when they polished one stripe on German crosswalks, and decorated them with a Mr. Clean logo. Now let's just hope no one was mesmerized enough to forget about the oncoming traffic.
3. School of Visual Arts
You're a visual arts school, and you want potential students to get in touch with their inner Picasso. Why not remind them that great ideas can happen anywhere? New York's School of Visual Arts encouraged people to write down their thoughts by printing lined paper on everyday objects like restaurant napkins, sugar packets, and even toilet paper. Inspired concept plus clean design equals effective advertising.
4. Toronto Comedy Film Festival
Who doesn't love watching someone get a pie in the face? Next to slipping on a banana peel, it's probably the most classic physical comedy move there is. So these revolving door decals promoting Toronto's comedy film festival were sure to get Canadians in a slapstick mood. Just imagine seeing your boss coming through that entrance.
5. Cancer Patients Aid Association
If you were smoking in a designated smoking area and you saw this ceiling poster, depicting a funeral going on above your grave, do you think you might put out the butt? These morbid reminders, created by the Everest Brand Solutions agency of Mumbai, were meant to do just that. Then again, if you're so desperate for a smoke that you can't wait until you get outside, you might need more than a clever poster.
This one hits pretty close to home. I'm a bit of a clean freak, and I probably hit the Purell bottle a dozen times a day. You may think that's excessive. Then again, you haven't seen the crowd I hang with. Anyway, if I were in my doctor's office leafing through magazines and I saw a sticker on the cover that read "Gently sneezed on since October 2002," I might just insist on an anti-bacterial shower right there.
Saatchi & Saatchi of Sydney gave out frisbees resembling barbell weights to promote how dogs can gain strength by eating Iams dog food. Can't you just imagine dozens of dogs in a park playing catch with barbell weights?
8. Human Trafficking Awareness Partnership
You're looking for a nice sirloin or rib eye, and you jump back as you see a naked woman staring at you. That's the reaction Luxembourg ad agency Mikado Publicis was looking for when they printed images of women inside food packaging and placed them in the meat sections of local super markets. The campaign was meant to drive awareness of human trafficking, with copy that reads, "If you pay a prostitute, you're financing human trading..." That would get a shopper's attention.
9. Spiderman III
And this gets my personal first prize for funniest ambient effort. When I walk into a public restroom looking for a vacant urinal, my eyes usually don't drift ten feet up the wall. This Spiderman III ad is hysterical, and it might have made me want to see the flick in theaters instead of waiting until the DVD came out. And it also proves that no space is off limits in the world of guerilla advertising.