7 Times Billboard Ads Inspired Us in 2019

7 min read

Yes, we hear you, out-of-home may be a dull and boring medium for the end of 2019. But is it really?

Even though billboard ads may not take all the attention of the advertisers being in tough competition with the internet, they still rock. Sometimes they rock in a jaw-dropping way. Here’s why we’re here, to celebrate the most impressive billboard ads of 2019, the ones that let you immediately go “wow, they’ve done what?!”

Because it is all about creativity at the end of the day. No matter whether you’re going static or opt for digital, the more creative you are the more successful the ad campaign will be and, well, the more chances you have to top the “best ads” lists. Creative billboard ads are a true joy to witness and to write about. And as we discovered in 2019 there are no limits to imagination. The best marketing teams in the world has introduced us to the self-immolating ads, smoke-spitting ads, heartbreaking ads and gargantuan ads. Let’s remember what went down in the creative billboard ads domain this year.

1. Breathing armored bear. BBC Creative’s “His Dark Materials” promo


Source: BBC Creative

As you approach the Westfield Shopping Centre in London one thing stands out. You notice a gigantic billboard. But it’s unlike any other billboard, it actually breathes. Not every OOH has a giant bear with smoke coming out of his mouth. Let’s give it to BBC Creative (the branch behind the UK billboard ad), they were able to create an awe-inspiring campaign for their new show, “His Dark Materials”, an ambitious adaptation of famous Philip Pullman’s trilogy. 

The breathing bear in question is one of the series’ protagonists, Iorek Byrnison who is, well, an armored bear. As far as billboard ads go, the one created by the BBC is definitely among the best of 2019. It instantly captures your attention, brings creativity in the game and is also a part of the wider BBC Creative OOH campaign that combines AR based on social awarding. 

2. JetBlue sign added to the historic Pepsi sign in NYT

Source: PepsiCo

Sometimes you have to be bold in your marketing efforts. That’s the case of JetBlue, a major American low-cost carrier. Because what can be bolder than placing your sign next to the PepsiCo sign that is actually an 80-years-old designated historic landmark of New York City? That’s exactly what JetBlue did adding their logo under the iconic sign in order to celebrate the fact that the airline switched from serving Coca Cola to Pepsi.

Also, the company announced the start of a major social media campaign with a hashtag #PepsiOnJetBlue. While it was considered a bit controversial given the location and status of the Pepsi sign, it has amassed thousands of eyeballs nonetheless thus achieving the main goal of spreading the message.

3. Harry Potter takes over Times Square

Imagine you’re passing Times Square and suddenly all the screens go blank. Every single one of the largest digital billboard space in the world. That’s what happened this September when Harry Potter took over the iconic New York spot. It seems that J.K. Rowling-created franchise has unlimited commercial powers because who else really can afford to do a full-Times Square take-over to reveal the new branding of the play? 

Not a new book, film or, well, play. But a new branding to already existing play that includes now the name “J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” done in the same Mary GrandPré-created font as the films and books as well as the new tagline that reads “Sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places”. Now that’s some pure capitalist magic. And to make everything even more mindblowing, Sarah Jessica Parker has announced it all.

4. Colin Kaepernick’s collaboration with Nike


Source: Nike

Sometimes the context is everything. That’s the case of Nike’s “Dream Crazy” billboard campaign with Colin Kaepernick. The outline is extremely minimalistic, there’s a black and white close-up of Kaepernick’s face, a “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” tagline and iconic Nike’s “Just do it”

It’s extremely poignant and timely, it was Kaepernick that put his NFL career at risk when kneeling during the national anthem protesting against police brutality and racial inequality in the US. The outdoor campaign was implemented in three cities: Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco but its effects resonated all over the world as it was accompanied by extensive media coverage and a viral Twitter campaign. It was also awarded an Outdoor Grand Prix at Cannes Lions. 

5. AR + Static = Snapchat-powered promotion magic

Source: Snap Inc. 

Sometimes a blend of old and new is all that you need to lead a successful advertising campaign. Because you may not have a digital billboard ad but a static billboard ad enhanced digitally by the AR technology of your mobile. Snapchat did that promoting their new original series (yes, there are shows produced by Snapchat as well now and yes, they are vertical) The Dead Girls Detective Agency and Dead of Night. 

Done in Los Angeles, it featured regular funny billboard ads with a large Snapcode, a sign that can be recognized by the Snapchat app launching an AR on your mobile. In the case of The Dead Girls Detective Agency billboard, the user saw a portal that played the trailer of the show. Dead of Night ad on the other hand had the arms of the undead held the phone that showed the clips from the series. Cool? Definitely.

6. Jack Ryan goes BIG

Nothing to see here, just a 50,000 square feet billboard advertising the Season 2 of Amazon Prime series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. And it can only be seen from the air as it is a rooftop ad created not far from LAX. As the FlyBy Ads (the agency specializing in this kind of campaigns) said, the Jack Ryan stint is “the largest rooftop ad of all time” and “the first of its kind to be lit at night.” If that’s not impressive, we don’t know what is. Definitely, one of the best and most creative billboard ads of 2019.

7. Vampire Posters that burn themselves with the first sun rays

One of the most innovative and inventive billboard ads this year came from BETC/Havas agency in Brazil. To promote Fox’s new show about vampires “The Passage”, creative minds have created posters that start burning up when the sun rises. Yes, really. The agency has come up with a special paint that actually burst in flames with the sun rays. It might be one of those rare cases when marketing has led to the invention of some new chemical reactions involving paint and posters. Anyway, this campaign is a highlight of 2019. Although “The Passage” was closed after 1 season, the BETC/Havas endeavors in promoting it in Brazil are 100% attention-worthy.

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