When Medium Becomes Message, It's Just Smart Thinking

  • by September 23, 2013
As we kick off the 10thanniversary of Advertising Week in New York this week, one can’t help but watch for the bevy of out-of-home and place-based messaging agencies and social media companies will post across Gotham in an effort to draw attention.  One can only imagine the multitude of larger-than-life, Time Square-sized outdoor experiences taunting hashtags, on behalf of agencies and brands.

That said, there are times when out-of-home media delivers something so simple, so beneficial and so creatively effective that it doesn’t require any new “tech” or interactivity to pull off a powerful brand message.

Case in point, the recent IBM Smarter Cities Outdoor effort from Ogilvy, France..  It’s a series of billboards -- each one functioning as a bench, a shelter, or a ramp way – all a result of the addition of a simple curve to the top or bottom of the board. By leveraging the simple curve of a line, IBM was able to give each of the outdoor boards a physical benefit to demonstrate its message: how smarter ideas make smarter cities. There’s no technology, no touch-screens, no mobile phones required. 

It’s just a simple, smart idea.

It has been said by many a creative that you know you have a good idea when it writes itself.  By now, we have seen several years of clever storytelling around IBM’s collective brand challenge / promise, “Let’s Build a Smarter Planet” – much of it leveraging advanced technology like Watson and numerous other digital and physical brand experiences.  But in taking a subset of the Idea around Smarter Cities and physically making the medium the message, IBM and Ogilvy have once again proven how effective you can be with just a simple, smarter idea.

This is one campaign extension that should remind us not to become too seduced by new technologies and platforms in this digital age.

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