Stretching The Canvas

What to expect when you're expecting; weight gain, stretch marks and gifts for the baby. It looks like an outdoor campaign for Bloom Supermarkets, promoting the opening of three stores in Greenville, S.C., is experiencing sympathy pains.

Outdoor has become a hot medium, thanks to digital and bluetooth-enabled billboards. You won't find any of that here. Yet, using a traditional format with no technical bells and whistles, the Bloom campaign achieved an effect almost like that of an animated flip book by virtue of its time-released approach.

Over the course of four weeks, the billboard creative changed to reflect the different trimesters of a woman's pregnancy. Week one showed the beginning signs of a baby bump along with the Bloom logo. The second trimester of the campaign showed a larger belly alongside the copy, "due any day now." Stage three had the billboard back to its pre-baby weight and the copy, "it's arrived."

A gigantic inflatable ball was inflated over the course of four weeks to give the look of an expanding belly, according to John Boone, creative director at BooneOakley, the agency behind the campaign. Ingenuity of Richmond, Va. handled the media buying.

An additional two-stage campaign was used to inform drivers that the new arrival was a supermarket. One ad used a 3-D animated children's mobile containing meat, milk, bananas, bread, and carrots rather than your average black and white blocks. Another ad likened a shopping cart to a baby carriage, using the copy, "due any day now."

The campaign was good, but it could have been even better: imagine what it would have been like to drive down a highway and have the billboards change every few miles as opposed to one billboard updated weekly. The medium would have taken on a truly animated role and the likelihood of consumers forgetting the brand and the ad from the previous week would have diminished.

"The ads needed to work as a standalone, but it's better if they [drivers] see the whole series," said Boone.

Logistical problems came into play on the mobile billboard. The distribution of weight was an initial problem, with the metal pipes not being able to withstand the weight of the items on the mobile. Wind was also factored into the equation--who needs an oversized carton of milk landing in the front seat of their car?

A direct mail portion of the campaign shows a maternity ward full of colorful items likely birthed by characters from the book "Wicked."

"We are proud to announce the arrival of our beautiful new grocery store. June 24, 2006 8AM. 2,357 tons, 6 ounces," said the copy alongside bassinets containing a turkey, lobster, laundry detergent, broccoli, pineapple, and soda.

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