Ten Innovative OOH Campaigns that Engaged with the Public

man on the street interacting with a digital display about food

Back in the day, the general public would be able to make an instant connection with the traditional methods of marketing – a short message that’s packed with information to try and get people to buy a product or a service. However, as modern society develops, marketing has become a huge and stimulating industry – one that is also oversaturated and overbearing. Now, advertising isn’t just infomercials, and there are various ways to catch people’s attention – either it’s for promoting a product, raising brand awareness, building excitement for an event, or even gaining attention for a more serious issue. 

Two photos, side-by-side, with 2 men interacting with a digital billboard. The one on the right dressed up as Santa Claus

One of the most successful methods of marketing right now is creating a direct connection with the public by getting them to actively interact with the ads themselves. When the advertising process is only one way, people tend to tune it out and easily forget it right after. However, one solution to that problem would be to throw the initiative back on the consumers, this can make a much better and long-lasting impact.

With that being said, here are ten companies that have created groundbreaking OOH campaigns that truly understood and took full advantage of this marketing tactic.

1. Gü

Gü's text on a digital billboard in UK's station, saying, "Gü make my love, come down"

In February 2019, this award-winning premium dessert brand launched a Valentine-themed OOH campaign in London, U.K. Consumers were urged to submit their romantic and cheeky messages with the brand’s name and the best ones were displayed at Waterloo Station on a giant digital screen. 

Why This Was Clever: For a dessert company, Valentine’s Day is one of the most crucial occasions to push sales. By giving people the opportunity to make a simple yet fun and delightful gesture, the campaign carried and elevated the season of love to be extra special and got people to pay more attention to the brand.

2. Reebok

Reebok's campaign, "Are you fast enough for the ZPump 2.0?", a man standing next to the sign with his brand new trainers

In an effort to push their “shoes for running” objective and promote their new line of running sneakers, Reebok made a clever OOH campaign named, “Are you fast enough for the ZPump 2.0?” back in 2016. The company erected digital billboards with speed cams attached to them around the country of Sweden. The rule was simple: the people who could run past these displays within the amount of time permitted would immediately be rewarded with a brand-new pair of the new trainers. 

Incentive for ROI: As predicted, the campaign gained massive attention. It started with only a few passers-by trying to succeed in the challenge and shortly after, more people joined in and created an exciting and hyper crowd. Who doesn’t want the latest sneakers? While having created such an intriguing activity, Reebok wittily imposed themselves onto the public’s minds through the association between the new running shoes and their branding.

3. E.ON

Man looking at a digital billboard that is telling him how much pollution he's breathing in at that moment. The billboard displays 14

As a part of their campaign, “Let’s clean the air”, the British energy company E.ON created numerous wonderful OOH displays around Manchester and Birmingham. The ads used AR technology that tracked and showed the pollution levels that passer-by were inhaling simultaneously. 

Environmental Focus: By having real-time data displayed that was intelligently modified for each person walking past, it helped people to shift their attention to the environmental situation. Rather than tediously going through info-packed research, everyone gained instant knowledge of what’s happening, thus, they became more alert to this pressing matter. In just one weekend, the campaign attracted more than 2,500 U.K. citizens that were tracked in the two cities.

4. Amstel Radler

Amstel Radler's giant ad that was made of fresh lemons

In 2018, Amstel Radler, a Dutch beer brand, installed a giant canvas in Madrid with the title, “you can’t get this taste without lemons”. What’s interesting about this ad is it’s filled with actual, fresh lemons, giving it a bright yellow popping appearance. The company also urged people to guess how many lemons were needed in setting up this “art installment” to win a year’s supply of Amstel Radler.

The result: The number of people entering the competition was more than 5,000 with 10 correct guesses and the visit toll to their website hit an impressive number of 35,575 during that period.

5. Harry Potter at Time Squares

In celebration of its global expansion last year, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child staged play had a magical takeover in the heart of Times Square. Various stars and influencers were invited to the event, along with Harry Potter fans. The takeover featured a New Years-like countdown, behind-the-scenes snippets with awesome graphics, and music.

Welcome back to Hogwart: The event attracted a massive crowd to the iconic Times Square, creating unimaginable hype not just with the Harry Potter fandom in New York, but everywhere around the world.

6. UTEC

UTEC is an engineering and technology university in Peru. In 2013, before opening for applications, they had done an amazing OOH campaign to attract students. Taking in the dire situation of the lack of rain in several villages in Lima, Peru – oddly contrasting with the high humidity – the university set up billboards with advanced technology that could suck out the moisture in the air and transfer it into water.

Why This Is Awesome: This campaign has showcased why it was a promising choice in the area by not only demonstrating the skills of people who attended the university, but also how it gave back to the community and how its work could help people in their daily lives.

7. Google

Google's digital display saying, "Make the most of summer with a little help from Google"

Driven by the idea of helping people to “Make the Most of Summer”, Google set up smart billboards around the city of London during the summer of 2019. Using the iconic Google search format, the displays showed real-time searches from the locals based on the time and location of each billboard. Moreover, there were also digital screens in the Underground Subway with directions to various locations like restaurants, pubs, parks, etc.

A Google Maps Simulation: By setting up multiple displays around London, Google had turned the city into an enormous Google simulation. They have certainly grabbed the attention of the public by using real-time search data, thus recommending the most appropriate results. While the company’s fame is unmatched, this was still an exciting way to help them connect with its users.

8. BigHit Entertainment

Armypedia project's giant digital billboard, saying "Hey, Army! Lost this?" with a QR code indicating 709th puzzle and the date May 22nd, 2015

Similar to the theme of bringing fans together, BigHit Entertainment, a Korean entertainment company, launched a worldwide OOH campaign to celebrate the boy band BTS’ milestones. The campaign was set in 7 different cities, displaying QR codes in various places, from giant billboards to banners, to truck sides. When scanned, each code would lead the fans to a special date in the band’s quest for fame, hence the name of the project, “Armypedia”, a combination of the fanbase name (Army) and the word Wikipedia.

A Global Effect: The campaign instantly spread like wildfire. Within the community, people were eager to go on a treasure hunt in their cities, sharing information, and having endless discussions on multiple social media platforms. Without a doubt, it was proven to be a wonderful success. While this was not necessarily a promotion to a new album or product, this global OOH project was a special way to strengthen the bond between the band and the fanbase.

9. British Dyslexia Association

Digital billboard with long texts on the street

Around two years ago in 2018, the British Dyslexia Association, with the help of the advertising company Leo Burnett, launched a swift OOH campaign that lasted for the span of two days. They installed several digital displays around the city with facial detection technology, showing a long text-like message about the hardships that a dyslexic person experiences on a daily basis. When someone came close to the ad, it would trigger the display to start shifting and morphing words around, making it much harder to read.

A Message of Kindness: In trying to read through the text displayed, people would begin to understand the powerful moral message that the association was trying to send out. This OOH campaign successfully helped to raise awareness about the  personal struggles of a decent portion of the world’s population.

10. Coca Cola

Share a Coke billboard on a double-decker bus

Last but certainly not least, let’s not forget about the most iconic campaign of all time – the “Share a Coke” campaign. Back in 2011, Coca-Cola started the campaign in Australia, with the endearing motto, “sharing is caring”. Taking full advantage of today’s trend of personification, the company produced coca-cola cans with more than a hundred of the most common names to fill in the blank, for example, “Share A Coke with Laura” or “..with John”.

It Was A Hit: The public went wild. It instantly became a trend where people sought out the can of coke with their names, their friends’ names, and their family’s. It was such a huge success that it’s still going on today, with various versions, even some including lyrics.

Wrapping Up

These are only a handful of examples in showcasing how creative an OOH campaign can be. Not just the mentioned companies and associations, but many others have also been finding new ways to promote their brand or cause with interactive OOH advertising. Without the power of OOH marketing, none of this would have been possible.

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