Out to Launch

A roundup of this year's untraditional outdoor ad campaigns. Let's launch!

AKQA has created some innovative digital outdoor ads for, a U.K, search engine. Twenty-five London buses are equipped with GPS tracking so they can serve ads relevant to a particular area and highlight local businesses. The bus shelters show passersby a map of exactly where they are, and there's even an interactive screen in the poster that lets people search for businesses, restaurants and bars within walking distance or the next bus stop. The campaign also includes online ads, posters, TV and cinema ads. Online ads are running on This Is London, Manchester Online and TV and cinema components will launch in September and October.

If you look at this ad long enough, you will see spots. I wonder how many people have stopped to count the logos. I bet it's been done! Target has launched a campaign at Penn Station in New York, placing the brand's logo on stairs using StareWays' adStep technology. It is part of Target's Station Domination Campaign, which is also running at two BART Stations in San Francisco (Montgomery St. and Embaradero). The buy was brokered through CBS Outdoor. Click here to see a bigger picture.



This is more of Madonna than I ever thought I'd see. Last week Los Angeles saw the Roosevelt Hotel get a facelift of sorts. Madonna's likeness was magnified and plastered on the southwest corner of Hollywood Blvd. facing the Chinese Theater. The ad promotes the opening of an H&M store in The Beverly Center this fall. I'm still carrying a grudge at H&M for placing an ad on my beloved Flatiron building last year. This ad just fuels my fire. This is the first time the Roosevelt Hotel has allowed this type of ad on its outer walls... same thing the folks at the Flatiron building said! H&M's in-house creative group, The Red Room, created the ad, and Mediacom handled the media buy.

IKEA made "everyday fabulous" for New Yorkers when it went design-crazy on the city. All in preparation for Design Week earlier this year, natch. Some of the stunts over the five-day period included placing sofas and curtains in bus shelters, putting blankets and picnic baskets with bottled water in parks, placing pillows on the bottom of slides to protect kid's bottoms, framing a missing cat flier, and adding padded park benches to Union Square. My personal favorite--oven mitts were placed on the No. 6 train. "Good design can make the everyday a little better," said the tag line. Deutsch created the campaign.

Sullivan-St.Clair created a local guerilla campaign for Springhill Athletic Club that draws inspiration from actual warning signs found on gym equipment. The female-centric ads warn of co-workers having "jean envy" after women gym-goers start working out on the treadmill. Stickers targeting men discourage them from showing off their new, improved bodies at work. Here's the copy. "Warning. Resist the temptation to show co-workers 'The Gun Show.' We know we know. You've ditched the cheese curls for dumbbell curls, and now you've got what seems to be a bicep emerging from its fifteen-year hibernation. Whatever you do, don't bust out the dread cry 'Wanna see the gun show?' That's nouveau fit. Be cool. Act like you've had muscles before. That way, when a coworker comes up to you and asks if you've been working out, you can act all aloof and reply, 'aww, you know, just a bit here and there.'"

What New Yorker can forget this campaign? Now if only the steam emitted from the manhole covers smelled like coffee. Earlier this year, Saatchi & Saatchi made manhole covers in downtown Manhattan look like steaming cups of black coffee. Folgers coffee. I wish I had seen these ads up close and personal. They ran for a limited time; the rim of the coffee cup said, "Hey, city that never sleeps. Wake up. Folgers." Click here to see a larger picture.

I wonder if they remembered this the next day? Bar patrons in Indianapolis on Aug. 3 were treated to a ride home by NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray in a No. 26 purple and gold Crown Royal Ford Fusion. Participants did have to sign up for this--hopefully  before they started drinking. The program, promoting designated driving, was created in 2003 by Crown Royal's parent company Diageo. The Indianapolis deal lasted for two nights, with 10 Crown Royal Ford Fusions in rotation within a 20-mile radius of downtown. Crown Royal coordinated the event along with partner agencies, Alan Taylor Communications and Just Marketing International.

It'll take more than a guy in a kayak to bring these balls ashore. Chevy brokered a major marketing deal this year at MLB's All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. Part of the promotion included placing oversized Chevy-branded inflatable baseballs floating in the Allegheny River. This wasn't McCovey Cove, the body of water outside AT&TPark (it was Pac-Bell Park when I was last there), where kayakers sit and wait for a Barry Bonds home-run ball, but a creative program nonetheless. Campbell-Ewald executed the campaign, which received heavy promotion during the Home Run Derby.

Irwin Slater has developed a branding campaign for Nikon USA, capitalizing on the fact that the company purchased the naming rights to New YorkState's Jones Beach Theater. The goal is to connect concertgoers with Nikon Digital's Coolpix and digital SLR D50 cameras. The primary imagery shows hands raised in the air, like you'd see at a concert, and reaching for either a Coolpix or D50 camera. Additional branding materials range from full-page print ads, giant "Nikon at JonesBeach" signage, branded guitar picks, jackets and T-shirts.

Celebrity blog portal has unveiled a Blogmobile where fans can stop to blog with their favorite celebrities and athletes, in real time. Blogging celebs include Dominic Chianese from "The Sopranos," New York Mets players Billy Wagner, Cliff Floyd and David Wright, along with Mike Cameron from the San Diego Padres. The Blogmobile promotes the Web site and traveled around New York City for two weeks recently and will be going on a college tour in the Northeast at the beginning of the fall semester.

Nestlé Waters launched an Aquapod Mobile Marketing Tour this summer to promote its new kid-friendly water bottle, Aquapod. The tour enables kids to try the product, play games and become an Official Aquapod Squad Member. The truck will be on the road through October, visiting cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cincinnati, Tampa, Orlando, Dallas, San Diego, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Francisco. Universal Consulting Group orchestrated the campaign.

Visa has taken on a personal feel with its "Life takes Visa" campaign, and as an ongoing part of this massive initiative commissioned a mural painted in New York's Greenwich Village, at 7th Ave and 10th Street. Artist Trish Grantham created the ad, which took a week to create. Click here to see a bigger picture.

To promote its Fresh Cooling Body Mist Sunblock, Neutrogena hit the beach--on Segways scooters. Neutrogena brand ambassadors rode Segways in beach parking lots, boardwalks and main shopping areas to spray beachgoers. I hope they got free samples as well. Universal Consulting Group created the campaign.

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