A 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.
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.