Monthly Archives: June 2013

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Advertisements Steal the Show!

Category : Billboard Successes

Billboard shelter ad by IBM

When advertisers get creative things get shaken up. Usefulness blooms in this urban marketing advertisement in a way that I’ve never seen before. Aren’t we all looking for something different? Something that stands out. When the foreground is littered with similar ads they tend to blend into the background. That is the nail in the coffin for ads. When people look but don’t see, you’ve lost your audience.

IBM’s Smarter cities campaign not only lives outside the box, it can’t even see the box. The first line of their campaign turns ordinary billboard ads into rain shelters. Then they plan on creating ramps and benches.

I can image the rain coming down just as you step onto the sidewalk. Here in Arizona that rain burst may only last a few seconds and a side step into a sheltered area might be exactly what you need. You see the familiar logo and the slogan and thank the big brain on whoever thought it up.

“We were looking for an idea that reached regular citizens as well as city leaders,” says Susan Westre, the Executive Creative Director at IBM. “That’s how outdoor became the medium. IBM is a strong believer in providing ‘utility’ in its communications – from offering useful information and facts to educational experiences.”

As I read more about IBM’s ad campaign I find out that city planners (bureaucrats) didn’t quite like the idea. It would seem that IBM is encroaching on their turf. It’s up to the bureaucrats to build benches and shelters. Ads and private companies can’t do that, right? Sounds silly. Creative ads grow companies which increase revenue for cities which is how the city folks get paid. But we all know how it works. It’s the bureaucrats that need reminding ever so often.

IBM bench advertisement

The city did not get in IBM’s way. “If it is a location owned by the city, then you have to comply with all of the city regulations, which vary from place to place,” says Westre. “City government approval processes can take a very, very long time. It would easily be a six to eight month process to work that out.” The media and ad team found privately owned property with forward thinking owners to back their ideas. “By just getting this idea out there to the world, I think it will inspire others to think about how they can innovate, make, or do something that makes life a bit better in cities.” says Westre.


iBM's ramp advertisement billboard