Red Bull’s solar-powered billboard lights-up nighttime sports

Lighting for nighttime sports is scarce in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, making it hard for people to enjoy outdoor activities, like football and skateboarding, at night. The desire to play sports at night is especially strong in Vietnam because of the intense daytime heat and humidity. Red Bull, being all about energy and action, used this as an opportunity to create a social benefit while aligning the brand with a different kind of energy than caffeine: solar.

To do this, they painted a grid of used Red Bull cans black, in order to soak up the sun’s energy during the day, then stored that energy in batteries, which were used to power flood lights, making nighttime games and sports possible.

Why it’s hot:

Instead of just throwing up some standard billboards in outdoor recreation areas, Red Bull decided to be user-centered, looking to solve a real problem first, and found a clever way for the brand to participate in a more meaningful way within the culture it wants to attract.

1. Alignment: Red Bull sells an image of passion — a desire to go “all out” for one’s dreams, and this project fits perfectly with that image.

2. Social benefit: This hits on all cylinders for Red Bull. It positions the brand as essential to the sports it’s supporting, while repurposing resources, reducing energy use, and showing off its innovation chops. Helping people in this small way with things they are passionate about extends good will toward the brand far beyond the initial investment.

Source: Contagious

a billboard you can plant…

Working with the Royal Botanic Gardens (the UK “authority on plant science”), Herbal Essences recently created “billboards” featuring leaves you could pull off, that contained wildflower seeds you could plant at home. The idea was to grow more wildflowers to nurture London’s endangered butterfly community, since butterflies are “major pollinators”, like bees.

Why it’s hot:

It’s such a simple way to build meaningful relationships. Going beyond just being an ad, it gives something tangible to each person, with an end benefit that helps all Londoners (and really the world) at large. And it’s something anyone passing by can experience, giving it the kind of real-world effect few “ads” ever truly have.


Moscow Billboard Targets Ads Based on the Car You’re Driving

The rise of digital billboards spawns the idea of targeted highway ads, with tests in the U.S. planned for this summer.

Last November if you were driving a BMW x5 or a Volvo XC60 on the highway ringing Moscow, you might have noticed a digital billboard on the side of the road flash an ad just as you approached, one for a new SUV from Jaguar.

If it was evening, you saw an ad with a dark background, helping the car stand out. In bad weather, you saw it maneuvering in the snow.

A startup called Synaps Labs has brought targeted advertising to the physical world by combining high-speed cameras set up a distance ahead of the billboard (about 180 meters) to capture images of cars. Its machine-learning system can recognize in those images the make and model of the cars an advertiser wants to target. A bidding system then selects the appropriate advertising to put on the billboard as that car passes.

Marketing a car on a roadside billboard might seem a logical fit. But how broad could this kind of advertising be? There is a lot an advertiser can tell about you from the car you drive. Indeed, recent research from a group of university researchers and led by Stanford found that—using machine vision and deep learning—analyzing the make, model, and year of vehicles visible in Google Street View could accurately estimate income, race, and education level of a neighborhood’s residents, and even whether a city is likely to vote Democrat or Republican.

As the camera spots a BMW X5 in the third lane, and later a BMW X6 and a Volvo XC60 in the far left lane, the billboard changes to show Jaguar’s new SUV, an ad that’s targeted to those drivers.

Synaps’s business model is to sell its services to the owners of digital billboards. The Jaguar campaign paid the billboard operator based on the number of impressions, as Web advertisers do. The traditional billboard-advertising model is priced instead on airtime, similar to TV ads.

The company is planning a test in the U.S. this summer, where there are roughly 7,000 digital billboards, a number growing at 15% a year. (By contrast, there are 370,000 conventional billboards.) With a row of digital billboards along a road, they could roll the ads as the cars move along, making billboard advertising more like the storytelling style of television and the Internet.

Why it’s hot: Truly innovative step in combining targeting technologies, recognition software and advertising.



The Future of Billboards

LA’s Ace Hotel recently teamed up with WeTransfer to create a curated selection of works on a billboard near the hotel. Titled Dear DTLA the project featured work from a variety of artists.

When viewers visit the Dear DTLA website, they can click on past artists’ names and get a link to a WeTransfer zip folder. The folder associated with Brotas, for example, lets viewers see three different stages of the process.


Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 9.36.44 AM

Why it’s hot:

It’s making physical billboards more digital and more creative. Companies will aim to make billboards more captivating.

Plug Your Headphones into a Billboard and Be Transported to Paris

sounds-of-the-city-thalys-billboard-psfk-964x644A French train company is using the power of audio to entice people to travel to its main destinations. Thalys paired up with French Agency Rosaparks to create Sounds of the City, a set of interactive billboards that lets passerby plug in their personal headphones and listen to the sounds of Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam.

People travel to experience culture and learn the stories of people, and sound does an excellent job of conveying the message. So the Rosaparks team set out to each of the cities, collecting more than 1,000 different sounds from each place. Sounds of food, the market place, skateparks, and even from history archives were recorded and then implanted within the billboards. The result was essentially an audio database of urban life.

The billboards were then outfitted to be a map of each city, with audio jacks placed in different areas and neighborhoods. Each jack holds a different sound, and passersby can insert their headphones into whichever one to experience a different time and place.

Eighty-three percent of all advertising we’re exposed to focuses on sight, but sound goes underutilized as an effective marketing tool. Sounds of the City pulls audiences in, using a unique sensory approach to attract audiences.

Studies show that audio influences how people experience their environments, and brands are experimenting and using this understanding to alter the consumer experience. Headphones create immersive experiences—distractions are muted and brands can take center stage. With these billboards, passersby can almost instantaneously experience the wonder of travel. But to use their other senses, they they need to then get on a train and physically experience the cities.

sounds-of-the-city-amsterdam-psfk-964x644Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

We’ve seen a few cool billboards and OOH advertising lately — from soda and beer dispensers to digital coordination with moving trains. Using audio is an interesting approach that we haven’t seen yet, that picks up on insights about travel and encourages passerbys to actually engage.

Carlsberg Billboard Doubles as Self-Service Beer Tap

Last week, Gary posted about a billboard that pours Coke Zero. Is this a new trend?

Carlsberg has made what they claim is “Probably the Best Poster in the World” by turning it into a working beer tap.

Revealed in London last week at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, it enabled passersby to enjoy a cold drink of Carlsberg for free.

The 12 x 3 meter interactive billboard commissioned by the brand was created by advertising agency Fold7 and digital design firm Mission Media. It featured a version of the brand’s slogan in white on a green background, with an embedded beer tap in the center allowing members of the public to pour themselves half a pint.


Carlsberg staff were on hand throughout the day to monitor events, safeguard under-18s (the legal drinking age in the U.K.), and make sure consumers were drinking responsibly.

Earlier this year, Carlsberg revived its ‘If Carlsberg did’ campaign, which the brand dropped in 2011 after almost forty years.

Why It’s Hot:

I thought this was interesting, but not perfectly executed. As we saw with the Coke example, interactivity and product sampling can work well for brands. However, it seems like there was a missed opportunity to integrate social and mobile (though the stunt probably went viral on it’s own) with # calls to action, posting photos, etc.


Innovative OOH from Audi in Germany

This Audi Emits Nothing but Water Vapor, So Its Billboards Are Made of That Too.


Innovative products deserve advertising that itself is innovative. This Audi campaign from German agency thjnk does a nice job of that.

The Audi A7 Sportback h-tron uses a fuel cell coupled with a hybrid battery and additional electric motor in the rear. Notably, nothing but water vapor comes out of the exhaust. And so, Audi created billboards that similarly leave nothing behind.

It’s clever and intriguingly produced, though it’s not quite clear how the effect is achieved. In any case, it’s perhaps most reminiscent of 2012’s “Invisible Car” campaign for Mercedes,which also promoted zero-emission fuel-cell technology—by draping the car with an LED “costume” that made it look invisible.

Source: Adweek 

Why It’s Hot: I like the alignment between the product claim to fame and the execution of the OOH ad — it’s a good way to get consumers to “get it” while also grabbing attention and intrigue.