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Half my advertising budget is wasted...on one billboard
April 24, 2011 6:23 PM   Subscribe

You know those amazing billboards with moving parts and 3D effects and breaking the 4th wall and so on? Where the hell are they?

All the billboards I can recall seeing have been of the plain old paper-on-flat-surface kind. I suppose I've just never been to where different billboards are sited, but I want to know if there are specific places where they occur and why.

Are there only a handful of sites worth the extra cost? If so, where?
Do local laws restrict these billboards to only certain countries?
How common are they anyway? Are they one-offs for the attention they bring?

I don't mean any specific advertisement, just those kind of innovative advertisements which break from the norm. I suppose I would like some more information on the phenomenon, if possible.
posted by Jehan to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know how big the metro area is where you live, but these kind of billboards (at least some of these concepts) are hella expensive compared to the flat kind. They tend to be things you can justify next to a 5-lane interstate or major downtown metro area better than you can central Alabama or Indiana. And some of them depend on the kinds of structures you don't exactly find in the sticks - tall buildings, arenas, etc.

I have no idea about laws, other than the generality that some areas do more to regulate size and number of billboards than others.

Some types of 3-D advertisements are really fairly common. Chick-fil-a does a lot of these, even in modest-sized metro areas (of course, the chain is big in the southeast and seems to do a lot to drive traffic off the interstate, so yeah)
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:05 PM on April 24, 2011


They aren't as common as you would think on the internet. I think a lot of them are just spec work that gets posted on an advertising/copywriting blog and then they start to make their way around the internet.
posted by windbox at 7:08 PM on April 24, 2011


We have a BMW billboard like the one pictured here in Chicago.
posted by Windigo at 7:11 PM on April 24, 2011


By the way, it's not downtown or near a freeway. It's just randomly in the city (wicker park area) overlooking a bridge.
posted by Windigo at 7:12 PM on April 24, 2011


Sorry but I mis-spoke. It's not the BMW one, it's the Mini one with the car mounted sideways onto the billboard.
posted by Windigo at 7:14 PM on April 24, 2011


I've seen a number of fancy-pants billboards/side-of-building ads since I've lived here in Chicago. Last year, the Field Museum did a whole pirate thing in the Loop for a new exhibit, complete with life-sized swashbucklers scaling a building.

It really depends on where you live. Big cities get the cool ads, and they tend to go places with a lot of pedestrians or regular heavy car traffic (so people have a chance to stop and really inspect them rather than just zooming on by in a car).
posted by phunniemee at 7:41 PM on April 24, 2011


I live in downtown toronto, and i see these kinds of billboards on a semi-regular basis. But i've also noticed that no one else seems to notice them (i'll point them out people never ever have noticed on their own.)

I get the impression that those ads are most effective at getting press or case studies or awards for ad agencies, rather than at promoting products.
posted by Kololo at 8:23 PM on April 24, 2011


I've seen the Nationwide Insurance paint billboard a number of times. You'd think it would have only been a temporary thing, but it's been up at least a couple years (they had at least four or five cars covered in paint and taking up parking spaces, so I guess they wanted to get their money's worth).

Nationwide is based in Columbus, so I'd assume that's why they have their big ad there.

I don't know about the other 3D billboards and whatnot, but I remember when I was a kid, it seemed like nearly every billboard 'broke out of the box', with extra room at the top for people's heads or whatever. I also remember Chik Fil A doing a billboard with cow statues - this was in the suburbs of Cincinnati, and judging by those Google Images, in a number of other places as well.
posted by Gordafarin at 3:09 AM on April 25, 2011


These things are everywhere. I imagine they require the following:

- space (blank wall, empty lot, whatever);
- high volume pedestrian or vehicle traffic consisting of target demographic passing that space; and
- a sufficiently motivated advertiser.

I saw the Kill Bill one in Auckland, NZ, which tried to ban billboards entirely not so long ago, so they pop up even in a highly regulated market. There was a particularly awful advertisment for Smint in Wellington, NZ, which had huge man nipples extending some metres out over the Opera House from the neighbouring building.
posted by doublehappy at 4:27 AM on April 25, 2011


The Cingular one was in Times Square a few years ago.
posted by azarbayejani at 10:40 AM on April 25, 2011


Toronto has had billboards like this near the east end of the Gardiner expressway which has crazy daily traffic.
posted by GuyZero at 11:50 AM on April 25, 2011


That BMW one was in my hometown (Bridgeport, CT, about an hour outside of NYC) and I heard (from my friend, the 911 dispatcher) that 911 got a lot of calls about a jumper up on a billboard over the highway.
posted by AlisonM at 12:44 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


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