Evolution of Outdoor Advertising Industry

Evolution of Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising isn’t a new marketing method. In fact, it’s been around since ancient times. The earliest outdoor advertising methods were chiseled on monuments in ancient cultures- including in Ancient Egypt! Hieroglyphics have been found describing laws of the country. Travelers were meant to stop and learn the rules of the civilization before entering. In this way, it can be described as an early form of outdoor advertising.

However, actual billboards as we know them didn’t evolve for many more centuries. Let’s take a look at a brief history of the evolution of outdoor advertising and where the industry is headed today.

Outdoor Ads Evolution

Early Forms of Advertising

Many people have heard of the famous Gutenberg press. Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable type printing in 1450. He was most likely influenced by primitive examples from China, Japan, and Korea. These traveled by traders along the Silk Road to Europe cultures. His inspired invention, the Gutenberg Press, rang in modern forms of advertising as we recognize them today!

In particular, handbills became very popular. Handbills, which were exactly what they sound like, were leaflets with advertising information handed out. They can be likened to early versions of newsletters!

In 1796, the first major form of outdoor advertising emerged- the illustrated poster. Using lithography, companies could create large numbers of posters for advertisement to be hung in storefronts, store windows, and even street corners.

Primitive Billboards

Primitive versions of billboards have been in use for centuries. The most common example would be posted by trails to notify travelers of an inn ahead. Travelers on foot, horseback or being pulled in a carriage would learn how far the inn was ahead, as well as what they had to offer in the way of amenities.

Posted signs along the roadside served the purpose to aid travelers to find food and shelter rather than advertising many types of goods that are found today. Widespread advertising using billboards didn’t become popular until the invention of the car.

Evolution of Outdoor Advertising

Automobiles & Outdoor Advertising

As automobiles were created and boomed, pioneering marketers realized that there was a prime opportunity to use long stretches of road to advertise products. After all, automobiles encouraged travel and mobility. This, in turn, created a need to inform travelers of what they could expect from landmarks, attractions, and hospitality on the road ahead.

Advertisements lauding local sights, national parks, and curiosities sprang up just before towns in an attempt to encourage travelers to stop and spend their money in town. Restaurants and hotels quickly followed suit, creating a real demand for enticing designs that drew travelers into a town.

Bigger Becomes Better

Billboards and outdoor advertisements had to grow larger and larger over the years for an interesting reason. As motor vehicles evolved and gained speed, advertisers needed to make their billboards bigger in order to be seen from further away! If advertisers didn’t make their billboards big enough, the motorist would zoom past their sign without being able to read it!

However, bigger didn’t mean better to everyone – in particular, the United States Government. In the 1960’s, President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced the Highway Beautification Act, which prevented billboards from overtaking America’s roadways. This legislation was passed in an effort to check outdoor advertising companies from blocking America’s scenic landscape with various advertising.

Digital Technology Changes the Game

Prior to digital technology, meticulously handpainted billboards were the norm. However, beginning in the 1990s, computer-painted and printed materials became standard. More recently in the first decade of the 2000s, LED lighted and completely digital billboards have become popular. Technology has allowed smart sensor billboards or even billboards that scroll through several images in a minute.

Outdoor Media Evolution

As the industry continues to evolve, more unique effects can be expected in outdoor advertising. 3D elements and visually engaging details have emerged. For example, the famous cows on the Chik-Fil-A signs that “graffiti” billboards to plead consumers to “eat more chikin.” The sides of buildings and skyscrapers are cleverly used for enormous posters and advertisements (such as the now iconic Times Square!) Full vehicle wraps have placed outdoor advertising on the sides of buses, cars, and even planes. 

Smart sensor technologies and facial recognition technologies have created bus stop advertisements that interact with viewers. From games to targeted advertisements with videos and audio, outdoor advertisements have evolved to capture consumer attention in a multitude of different types of digital billboards.

How Outdoor Advertising Has Evolved

Outdoor Advertisement is Still Evolving

It seems that every day, new innovations and methods for advertising outdoors occur. Driven on by market competition, development of new capabilities and polishing of existing processes makes the sky the limit with outdoor advertising.

Rum Ads

Vintage Rum Ads from Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is well known for being one of the finest producing islands of rum in the world. Combine that with that fact that alcohol advertising, in general, has always been a very competitive and creative space and you’ve got a very interesting space for advertising. Over the years there have been a large number of rum companies who have tried to make an impact on the industry.

As advertising has switched to a digital medium we often miss the simpler times of advertising where had drawn art and creativity were crucial.  We’ve put together some of our favorite rum ads from a variety of different companies, some that still exist today and some that didn’t make the cut. Regardless of how they faired in business, they did a great job at making some very cool retro rum ads.

Ron Rico

  • Started: 1935
  • City: Arecibo
  • Status: Active

Vintage RonRico Ads

Ron Merito

  • Started: 1946
  • City: Arecibo
  • Status: No Longer in Production

Vintage Rum Ads Merito

Riondo Rum

  • Started: 1941
  • City: N/A
  • Status: No Longer in Production

Vintage Riondo Rum Ads

Don Q Rum

  • Started: 1865
  • City: Ponce
  • Status: Active

Don Q Vintage Rum Ads

 Extra: Christopher Columbus Rum (From Dominican Republic)

  • Started: 1930
  • City: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Company: Barceló
  • Status: Active

Christopher Columbus Vintage Rum Ads

Whether we like it or not, advertising has changed significantly since the rise of computers and the Internet. Decades ago, it was a far simpler time for companies looking to try and get their message across. Radio, outdoor media, newspapers, magazines, and eventually TV advertisements were the preferred options where businesses would spend their advertising dollars. From social media to Google Adwords the online world’s impact on the industry have changed the game forever. As consumers are inundated with ads nearly every minute of the day, it often becomes a game of quantity versus quality in advertisements. While this is a reality that we just have to accept. We hope these rum ads took you back to the good old days of advertising for a little while.

Brand Wars in Marketing

Brand Wars in Marketing

If you ask about brand wars in polite conversation, you’re sure to get an interesting answer. Top brands going head to head with each other through public advertising is the stuff of marketing legend. From famous rivalries between Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to the all-out ad war between several car manufacturers. Indeed, brand wars in marketing is a sight to see. Some brand wars on the following list even saw involvement from social media followers, who tweeted, commented and voted on rebuttals.

Here are some of the legendary brand wars in marketing that have swept the world. In fact, most of the shots fired were printed in magazines or on billboards!

Coca-Cola vs. PepsiCo

Pepsi vs Coke Marketing Brand War

There has never been a more polarizing battle between beverages than that of Coke and PepsiCo. In fact, the famous rivalry between these two soda companies is referred to in marketing history as the Cola Wars. In order to understand how the ferocious rivalry came about, it’s important to understand the history of both mega brands.

  • Coca-Cola was started in 1886, while PepsiCo laid its foundations in 1893.
  • PepsiCo fired the first shot against Coke in 1975, by introducing a marketing campaign called the “Pepsi Challenge.” The Pepsi Challenge involved a blind taste test between people, who then favored the PepsiCo soda more.
  • It looked like PepsiCo had Coke beat for at least a decade, particularly after Coke changed their formula and launched “New Coke” in 1985 to terrible reception.

However, the tides began to turn when PepsiCo’s biggest stars began having headline troubles. Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire while filming a Pepsi commercial. David Bowie had a sexual assault scandal while he was under PepsiCo’s contract. Furthermore, Pepsi used “Like a Prayer” in a commercial at the time it was being received as blasphemous. Finally, in 93, consumers of the blue can began finding syringes in their cans in at least 20 states.

The official end to the Cola Wars is widely thought to be 2011. This year was when Diet Coke bumped Pepsi out of the second most popular soft drink spot in the world. The first, of course, was Coke.

Burger King vs. McDonald’s

Burger King vs McDonalds Brand War

The burger behemoths have had a long-standing rivalry, similar to the soda giants above. In fact, the fight has been kept pretty clean for decades, with only a few jabs thrown directly here and there. For the most part, Burger King and McDonald’s are content to offer almost the exact same thing on their menus.

One notable departure was the disastrous “Whopper Virgins” ad campaign in 2009. This ad campaign appeared to steal a page from PepsiCo’s book, displaying blind taste test ads between the Big Mac and the Whopper. Nobody appeared to win that advertisement war, as the public found the ad campaign racist and exploitative.

Microsoft vs. Apple

Apple vs Microsoft Brand War

When most people think of brand wars, this popular tech one comes to mind. Apple founder Steve Jobs was famously no fan of Bill Gates. In fact, Apple has been taking aim at Microsoft for the four decades since it’s inception. You may recall the “Hi I’m a Mac, and Hi I’m a  PC” commercials.

In fact, Apple’s first advertisement hammered Microsoft- literally. The famous 1984 commercial featured a hammer-thrower running through the ranks of blank-faced grey followers staring at a propaganda screen and destroying the film with a hammer. The overlay text read, “On January 24th, Apple Computer will release the Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’” The advertisement referenced Microsoft as a dull conformist overlord, and Apple as the bright new disruptor. While we can’t say that Microsoft is dull and conformist, it is certainly true that Apple was a disruptor in the computer market.

BMW vs. Audi

BMW vs Audi Brand War

One of the more famous billboard advertising wars played out between BMW and Audi. Like other major brands on this list, BMW and Audi have been sniping at each other for decades. However, one billboard erected in Santa Monica fired off a savage shot heard around the world.

Here’s a breakdown of the famous billboard feud:

  • Audi erects a billboard on Santa Monica Blvd boasting a new A4 with the message, “Your move, BMW.”
  • Santa Monica BMW buys a billboard opposite to Audi with an M3 Coupe and the message, “Checkmate.”
  • Audi invites fans to photoshop responses onto their next billboard on their Facebook page.
  • Audi places a billboard on the same side as BMWs with an R8. The message read, “your pawn is no match for our king.”
  • BMW then tethered a blimp to the billboard featuring the F1 car and the message “Game Over.”

The feud didn’t end there, but continued in print. It even garnered ads from Subaru and Bentley in response.

Which State Has the Most Billboards

Which State Has the Most Billboards?

Number Billboards USA

Have you ever wondered which state has the most billboards? A recent statistics report counts 341.61 thousand billboards in the United States between local, state roads and highways.

The federal government tracks the number of billboards through each state. This is part of the Highway Beautification Act (HBA) of 1965. Each state reports their outdoor advertising statistics differently. Oftentimes different legislation at a state level impacts the number and concentration of billboards.

One thing is for sure- there are four states that will never make it onto this list! That’s because Hawaii, Alaska, Maine, and Vermont have banned billboards. This is because of their fame as a scenic landscape, where billboards might interrupt the natural beauty and affect tourism.

In contrast, the southeast corner of America has a high concentration of billboards. This encompasses Florida, Georgia, Mississipi and Alabama to name a few. One of these states holds the most– read on to find out which state has the most billboards in 2018.

1) Florida

Florida leads the pack with a whopping 11,109 active permits on file for billboards throughout the entire state.

Orange County, Florida comes in first with 801 billboards in the county alone. Outfront Media leads the pack on 3,532 billboards in the state, with Clear Channel Outdoor coming in second -946. The state has several lobby groups and organizations to promote the interests of the outdoor advertising world in Florida, including the FOAA, or the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association.

2) Georgia

Peaches aren’t the only thing that plentiful in Georgia! Georgia is just behind Florida with 9,871 billboards throughout the state.

Bartow County, which is just northwest of Atlanta holds a few hundred of these billboards alone. Generally, Georgia city centers and long stretches of interstate highways make up for a bulk of the nearly 10,000 outdoor advertising elements in the state. Travelers going west to Alabama, east to South Carolina, north to Tennessee or south to Georgia are sure to see a few hundred on their way.

3) California

Surprisingly, California only holds just over 8,700 billboards. This may seem like a lot until you consider how much land mass California has as it takes up a huge percentage of the West Coast!

This number means the billboards are more evenly distributed throughout the state, with respect to the natural beauty of the coast, national parks, mountains, and valleys. This is in contrast to several other states on this list that are packed full of billboards!

4) New Jersey

For being such as small state, New Jersey has an impressive amount of billboard permits on file. In fact, New Jersey is just behind California with over 8500 between all its counties.

Clear Channel holds the bulk of billboards in the area. If you consider the long and winding byways of California condensed into smaller New Jersey, it’s hard to imagine moving more than a few feet without seeing a billboard.

5) Missouri

Largely considered a travel-through state, it only makes sense that Missouri had nearly 2,100 billboards.

These billboard permits on file on controlled routes are as of January 2018. St. Joseph has one of the highest concentrations of billboards in the northwest corner. The same goes for Kansas City to the west, St. Louis area to the est, and around Springfield and Columbia city centers. This catches the attention of motorists crossing state lines on road trips and alerts them about what Missouri has to offer.

6) Utah

Utah has recently passed billboard-friendly legislation that makes this is a prime location for billboards all over the state. As a result, billboards have begun flooding the main routes through the state.

The highest concentration is along the I-15N that runs from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City, with a large majority just inside the “corner” of Utah from Nevada and another thick concentration by SLC. The I-70W also sees a bulk of the over 1,660 billboards that hold a permit with UDOT. This number is forecasted to climb, and by this time next year it’s entirely possible that Utah will climb higher on this list.

Restaurant Billboard Ideas

Restaurant Billboard Ideas

The most effective and successful restaurant billboards contain striking images, plays on words and humor, or details that make onlookers do a double-take. With a clever and out-of-the-box billboard design, people are sure to take notice and flock to your restaurant. Here are some of our favorite designs to help generate some restaurant billboard ideas.

Compare and Contrast

As part of an intricate advertising campaign from Outfront Studios, Baskin Robbins structured billboards, posters and even web landing pages themed after “some things go better together.” The agency created a fictitious company called Bobo’s Fish Juice that featured some eyebrow-raising flavor combinations. These faux-healthy advertisements were then placed side by side with delicious images of Baskin Robbins shakes.

Though Baskin Robbins is in no way healthy, the advertising campaign managed to make healthy ingredients look less desirable using an artful compare and contrast. Color schemes, images and even tone are a subtle way to compare and contrast products to highlight your Restaurant.

Highlight a Product

McDonald’s created an ambitious campaign to promote the quality and freshness of its salads. The hamburger chain planted thousands of heads of lettuce on a billboard made of soil. Over three weeks, the bare billboard sprouted full blooms of fresh green lettuce spelling out “FRESH SALADS.” The innovative advertisement boosted sales by 30%, and 500,000 salads sold during the campaign period.

McDonalds also ran similar campaigns with a carrot bus stop advertisement, and a giant hatching egg outside another store location. This was a great example of creating hype around a specific dish or ingredient by highlighting it.

Play with Perspectives

This restaurant billboard idea for a seafood restaurant caught a lot of eyes. The actual advertisement is comprised of two parts: The billboard in the background, and the plastic fish emerging from the top of the actual restaurant building. From this angle, both elements of the advertisement look like they are all one piece. However, the billboard is a few yards away behind the building that the fish rests on.

This billboard uses perspective and optical illusion to make the fisherman on the billboard look like he’s reeling in an extremely large fish. This is an interesting way to capture and keep attention of viewers, as the fish and fisherman will appear to move depending on where the viewer approaches from.

Partner with Local Events

This upscale restaurant in downtown Toronto participated in the annual Winterlicious event by offering a special prix fixe meal. Though many restaurants in the area participate in the event, Far Niente took it one step further. The concept art is simple, depicting salt, flour and cheese being sprinkled against a black space. However, the simple images use restaurant ingredients to invoke the image of snow falling on a winters night. This ties directly into the event it is participating in.

This ad run shows us a creative way to incorporate local events in restaurant advertisements, and how seasonal advertisement can be impactful.

An Excellent Use of Cutouts

MidiCi pizza used a three-dimensional cutout to make the shape of an otherwise typical billboard irregular and eye catching. The plate seems to hang off of the billboard. Furthermore, the bold green and red tones of the pizza advertised pops against the otherwise pristine white plate and background.

The use of three-dimensional cutouts and color is an easy way to showcase specific products or dishes in your restaurant billboards.

Contrast Text From Chipotle

Chipotle ran this billboard advertisement that also invites another look. Onlookers immediately see the target message in bold black text : our ingredients are better. However, a second look reveals another message about locally sourced natural ingredients, and even includes a dose of humor.

This artful use of contrast text and a message-within-a-message is deceptively simple, but Chipotle has accomplished not one but two important marketing messages about its ingredients in just a few seconds. Consider playing with bold contrast to deliver two messages for the price of one in your own restaurant billboard.

 

 

 

Grammar Mistakes in Advertising

Grammar Mistakes in Advertising

It’s true, grammar mistakes can happen anytime. Unfortunately, that includes when creating billboards and advertisements, too! Here are our favorite examples of marketing messages with mistakes that made it past the editors. Next time you’re thinking of skipping the proofreading process, remember these hilarious examples of grammar mistakes in advertising. It might pay to take a look at your work just one more time!

A Tasty What?

Oops. We love an ice-cold Miller as much as the next person, but we can’t get behind this confusing billboard. We’re just curious how this simple phrase made it through the editing process all the way to a billboard without anyone noticing the misspelling of contradiction.

Don’t Write Copy In a New York Minute

This Reebok ad on the subway is a great reminder of why it pays to take your time. The copywriter missed an E in “everything”. It certainly highlights everything that’s wrong with rushing! This isn’t the worst typo we’ve ever seen, but it’s embarrassing for the company. Not to mention the cost of replacing these ads when they catch wind of the mistake!

Servers Are Unsung Heroes

One of the biggest problems with roadside business billboards like this is the lack of space… and spacing. It’s clear that this Days Inn board meant to commemorate Veterans. However, without a space in between the two lines, it seems like they’re commemorating hot breakfast servers. Hey, hot breakfast is pretty important, so maybe they have a point.

Stay In School, Kids

Perhaps even more embarrassing than a big company letting a typo slip through in their signage is a college! Cincinnati State College put up this billboard not realizing that an extra N had snuck into “technician.” Being a place of higher education, we’re sure they didn’t hear the end of it for quite a while.

I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

While not a billboard, this car decal certainly gave us pause. We’re not sure who would print such an error-filled message or if the driver came up with it themselves. The incorrect form of but is in use here. Plus, the sentence should read “you’re abusing that privilege.” The irony speaks for itself.

No, This Is Not the Krusty Krab

Another case of no punctuation gave drivers a laugh on this roadside billboard. The signage of a popular food chain probably meant that Spongebob toys were finally at the location, and they were hiring managers. Unfortunately, these two different messages got combined. While amusing, this tends to look poorly on the business and would probably make quality manager candidates think twice. Plus, is Spongebob even qualified to hire managers?

Punctuation Saves Lives

This cautionary sign is designed to warn hunters that pedestrians use nearby trails. However, without the necessary grammar and punctuation, it seems to reference hunting the pedestrians themselves! While the sign may give you a good giggle, consider what a costly and dangerous mistake this could turn out to be. Please note that it is illegal to hunt pedestrians.

What’s In a Name?

This is a fairly harmless grammatical error compared to some of the others on this list. The problem with this sign is that we’re pretty sure this is a sports bar, not a bar belonging to Sport. There’s no need for the apostrophe. We wonder if anyone came in asking to talk to Sport recently?

I’m Suddenly Not Hungry…

This is the worst example of careless spelling and advertising mistakes we’ve seen. By leaving off the letter G, this hamburger special turned into a hamburger horror! This image from a popular American fast-food chain went viral, although we’re sure they fixed it pretty quickly. That’s just another reminder that proofreading your work is incredibly important. In the age of viral images and video, a mistake like this could bring you an awful lot of publicity you would rather avoid.

Glad Advertisement Fresh Billboard

A Fresh & Creative Glad Advertisement Billboard

It can be difficult to come up with unique and creative ideas for outdoor media ads as over time many of the ideas have been used.  The key to setting yourself apart is to think out side of the box – literally!

You can see what I mean by taking a look at these 15 creative billboard ads. These savvy marketing professionals didn’t let the boxed-boundaries of a billboard canvas dictate their service or product’s message. However, just envisioning something different won’t always lead to success.  To create a truly successful and exceptional billboard you must first think of your product/service and what need it fills.

This understanding of the message will be the foundation  you need to build some very innovative ideas on. I have found no better example of a “fresh” take on billboard marketing that promotes the product’s message then in this Glad advertisement for their outdoor billboard campaign!

Glad Fresh Billboard Advertisement

Glad Oranges Billboard

In this Glad advertisement campaign, the company uses its own product to show how much fresher it can keep your fruit then it would be without using Glad. It quite literally spells it out for you! This merger of creativity aligning with the purpose of the product creates for a truly outstanding outdoor media campaign.

Actually showing the use of a product for all the public to see is a great way to demonstrate it’s value and this Glad advertisement does a great job of doing that. They also chose a product that’s common and can be used by almost anyone so their billboard appeals to a wide audience. The ad needs little or no explanation behind it which is another key to a successful billboard ad, simplicity. People who see a billboard only have a few seconds to take in the message you are trying to portray so it’s crucial to get he message across in a quick and memorable way.

While these types of ads are undoubtedly very successful, not all of us have the ingenuity, resources, space or  wherewithal to complete such a marketing feat as the ones mentioned above. However to be successful, you don’t always have to break the mold. Even some simple creative properties can get you started to move you down tracks to a very successful and engaging billboard campaign!

The Fresh vs Rotten Glad Billboard Ad

If you follow these “Rules of Engagement” based on the foundation of promoting your product/services core message and spice it with some outside of the box creative thinking you have yourself the perfect recipe for success!

If you’re interested in creative outdoor media check out our article on outside the box marketing ideas for more inspiration.

Billboard Advertising Effectiveness

Billboard Advertising Effectiveness

One of the key methods of advertising and a staple for companies of all industries is the billboard. Through ever-developing effects, such as digital screens, 3-D figures or different structures, the concept of the billboard and why it works is the same.

Anyway you look at it, billboard advertising effectiveness has proven itself for decades. Here are some of the top reasons why.

Advertising Effectiveness Billboards

The World is On the Move

Over time, countries all over the world have become more mobile. People spend less time at home. Whether enjoying a road trip or travel, commuting to work or simply seeking a new experience, the citizens of the globe are on the move. All that time in cars ads up, and advertisements placed roadside where travelers and commuters can see them are sure to be noticed.

Drivers are a Captive Audience

Drivers eyes on the road, their eyes are also on the large, visually appealing billboards by the roadside.

It has always been true that drivers are a captive audience, and is becoming even more true with harsh legislation concerning texting and driving and driving while distracted rolling out every year. While drivers can turn down the radio or subscribe to a completely ad-free channel, they jeopardize their very safety by taking their eyes off the road. With little else to safely distract them, chances are they will spend a few moments peering at that billboard.

Measuring Billboard Effectiveness

They Inspire New Ideas

An effective billboard for a restaurant, attraction or even unique shop can generate instant sales for travelers who are looking to explore a new area. With a growing culture of exploring off-the-beaten-path and seeking unique experiences, a well-placed billboard that provides directions to an unusual spot can generate instant sales. This makes a billboard a surprisingly cost-effect method of advertising, as well. Although the original billboard itself can be pretty costly to design and erect, if placed effectively it will more than make back its’ cost in sales. Advancements in billboard technology have also added a new dimension to billboard advertising effectiveness, with the ability to know display multiple ads throughout the day.

Billboards for Branding Effectiveness

If what audiences see in your billboard makes them laugh, inspires them, reminds them of a positive memory or any other avenue of emotional connection…you’ve probably secured a loyal customer.

Let’s face it, today’s consumers are constantly barraged with advertisements in print, online, over the radio, commercials on television and even on social media. With a constant stream of sellers courting each consumer, a very particular method of selection based on emotional connection has emerged. Think about it- if an advertisement can charm you or make you laugh in the few seconds it takes to view it, don’t you think more positively about that company?

The same concept applies to billboards, and works here better than many other advertising avenues. You have a captive audience guaranteed to glance over your billboard for at least a few seconds.

Billboard Effectiveness

Viewers Will be Pulled in By Your Creativity

With all the technological advancements and swirls of advertisers globally, companies are encouraged to top one another in creativity and thinking outside the box. Consumers have come to expect this and celebrate it. For example, Chick-Fil-A is just another fast-food sandwich stop, isn’t it?

Wrong. Chick-Fil-A is a globally recognized brand for a myriad of reasons, including their top-notch customer service, good works and their famous billboards. The second you glimpse a familiar black and white billboard in the distance with hand-painted splashes of red, you know what you’re looking at. That’s even before you see the 3D cows posed in a variety of amusing positions, or the humble red Chick-Fil-A logo. The cows “vandalizing” the billboard have become an expected and creative part of their advertising strategy, and to look at their earnings, we think its’ working.

Billboard Design Inspiration

Billboard Design Inspiration

Inspiration for effective marketing often comes from the most unexpected places, or fresh ways of looking at something. Even symbols one has seen their entire lives can take on a new meaning, or new technology can create ways to interact with the marketing world. Here are 5 examples of billboard design inspiration that came from unusual sources or clever re-imaginings.

Play-Doh: Open a Jar of Imagination

Hasbro Billboard Design

Annually every April, parent company Hasbro comes up with a new marketing technique just in time for Children’s Day. In 2018, the company announced the launch of the “Open a Jar of Imagination” Play-Doh campaign. This year, the company is championing encouraging children’s imagination and play. With this unique billboard structure, commonly featured in bus stops and eye-level billboards, the viewer is invited to use their own creativity to see beyond a basic can of play-doh to imagine what it could become. The limited-edition cans are surrounded by a clear plastic mold of children’s motifs like robots, airplanes and frogs.

The billboard is designed superbly well, and offers multiple levels of connection to the viewer. The clear plastic molds surrounding the vibrant can of Play-Doh showcase the product extremely effectively, while the sight of the can inspires nostalgia for adults and excitement for children. Finally the idealism behind it, in imagining what the product could be rather than just what it is, speaks to the hearts of clientele.

#BetterOff Billboard for Earth Day

Earth Day Billboard

Sometimes the most effective design for a billboard is the simplest. This was demonstrated over Earth Day, when Energy Upgrade California put together a campaign called #BetterOff. The concept of the campaign was simple and revolved around cutting down energy expenditure in the state. Accordingly, EUC asked McDonalds to turn the lights off in their billboards, which the burger chain complied with. During the day, a normal billboard featuring McDonalds products including a signature sandwich. However, as the sun set over California the board went dark and a special message was revealed on its surface, using glow in the dark tape. The message read, “This was an ad for McDonalds. Thanks to their partnership, it’s now an ad that saves energy.”

With low cost and maximum impact, this is a fantastic example of an outdoor advertising campaign. This approach in particular would work for a company with a special campaign or message. The gradual change captures viewer interest, and the simplistic glowing letters on a dark background grabs the eye and leaves room for thought.

“Follow the Arches” McDonalds

McDonalds Wayfinding Billboard

Canadian creative agency Cosette noticed that road signs for McDonalds all over Canada had inconsistent branding. While every sign incorporated the signature golden arches, the similarities ended there. In an effort to make branding more uniform and directions to each location more streamlined, McDonalds embraced providing directions with the golden arches themselves.

Using segments of the arches, such as the left bottom portion of the arch to directionally “point” to a McDonalds on the right, or the center of the arch to directionally signal to get off on the next exit, McDonald’s is able to simplify within their established branding and provide directions to their customers in a truly genius way. All it took was looking at the signature golden arches in a new way for some solid billboard design inspiration.

“The Mind Reading Billboard” Quebec City Magic Festival

Magic Festival Billboard

Just in time for the Quebec City Magic Festival, agency Lg2 installed an interactive billboard in a popular bus stop to promote the event. Using recently developed technology that is being used in major retail and restaurant chains to glean marketing data, the agency is bringing smiles to Canadian citizens.

A person will move closer to the digital billboard and be prompted to pick a card and keep it in their mind’s eye. The billboard will then reveal the card you were thinking of, “reading your mind.” Of course, there is advanced eye tracking technology behind the screen that follows the users gaze in order to accomplish this, but it brings joy and entertainment nonetheless. This outdoor media is a perfect example of using cutting edge billboard technology as inspiration to capture and engage viewers.

“Fun Magnet” by Fallsview Casino

Fallsview Billboard Fun Magnet

This past winter, Fallsview Casino and Resort in Niagara Falls commissioned an enormous billboard in Dundas Square. The enormous blue billboard towered 40 x 73 feet above the square and was entitled “Fun Magnet.” Installations of mannequins on parachutes, mannequins barely hanging onto full motorcycles and even a hot dog car were bolted onto the installation as though they had just been stuck to the board with a magnet. Prominently in the center was the logo for the casino.

The design for the billboard was truly incredible, with a high attention to detail and no expense spared to bolt full vehicles and mannequin fixtures to it. The attention to detail and 360 degree marketing experience didn’t end there. A local agency proceeded to make a supporting documentary for the making of the billboard, following three mannequin “celebrities” sharing their thoughts and respective journeys to Dundas Square.

Outdoor Advertising Ideas

Outdoor Advertising Ideas

When done correctly outdoor advertising can be one of the most impactful forms of marketing there is. The right advertisement can act as a monument to your brand that exists in the physical space your clients live their lives in. Outdoor advertising is harder to ignore than many other forms of advertising, but to achieve the maximum impact, it should be creative. A basic billboard might get your message across, but if you really want people to stop and think about what you have to say, then you need to present you.

Donatos Pizza Billboard

Consider the power of cross-promotion.

Outdoor advertising really takes off when it plays with people’s expectations. We’ve all seen two advertisements placed side by side, but they never interact. This unique ad from pizza brand Donatos plays with expectations to create a hilarious and eye-catching ad. It’s also worth noting that this sort of idea opens up all sorts of opportunities for cross-promotion. Creative companies can team up to create a billboard that delivers twice the punch at half the cost. That’s thinking outside the box.

Mars Tongue Billboard

Turn two billboards into one ad.

Here we have another advertisement that is created by combining two separate images. It takes full advantage of three-dimensional space to create an image that is impossible to ignore. It also presents a unique and vivid take on the subject matter, one look at that stretched out tongue is enough to tell you that it’s licking one cold candy bar.

Fedex Creative Billboard

Convert a vehicle into a moving billboard.

Drawing comparisons between your business and your competitor is always tricky, but FedEx found a brilliant way to turn their delivery trucks into ads with a cheeky message. A simple decal turns an average truck into a humorous and attention-grabbing jab at the company’s competition. Just putting your company’s logo on your vehicles might be fine for some, but there’s power in going beyond what’s expected of you.

Tailgating Billboard

Go beyond the flat image.

Take full advantage of the fact that outdoor advertisements don’t need to be completely flat! It might cost extra to add depth to a billboard, but if you’ve got a great idea, then the return on investment can be tremendous. People see flat ads all day long, give them something that comes out at them, literally!

Electronic Billboard Ad

Use electronic ads to tell a story.

Any one of these images would make a fine advertisement on its own, but when you see all three images in sequence, you get a message that is more than the sum of its parts. All too often people are content to purchase just one of three slots on a board like this and hope that they’ll stand apart from their competition. This ad shows that this sort of technology can be used to convey simple but powerful messages using sequential storytelling.

Hotwheels Billboard

Build off of what’s already there.

When creating an outdoor advertisement, you don’t have to build everything from scratch! By working with whatever is already in place you can increase your impact without dramatically increasing your budget. Look at this ad and imagine how much more Hot Wheels would have had to pay if they wanted to put up an entire fake bridge. But instead, they used an existing structure and made a big point at a relatively low cost.

Mini Outdoor Advertising Idea

Put up ads that work with people around them.

This ad from Mini Cooper does a great idea of telling people that their vehicle is more spacious than it looks at first glance. It does this by taking advantage of the space it is in and the way people exist within that space. When planning your next outdoor ad, you need to think about how it will exist in the chosen space and how people will interact with it.

McDonalds Creative Billboard Idea

Use technology to remind people that it’s time for them to pay you a visit.

McDonald’s gets a lot of business by staying open around the clock, but not all of their locations is open around the clock. This is tricky to deal with, when people are up late at night they might be hungry but they don’t want to waste time visiting a restaurant that isn’t open. This sort of message encourages people to pay McDonalds a visit while assuring them that they’re open and ready for business.

For more outdoor advertising ideas check out our other article on the best outdoor advertising campaigns.