Pirates in the City


Over the past few weeks, downtown Chicago has been invaded by pirates. While walking in the loop, you’ll find life-size pirate statues everywhere. Pirates in the flower beds. Even pirates waiting for the bus.

What’s the reason for this pirate invasion? To create buzz for a special exhibit at the Field Museum centered on…you got it…pirates. The exhibit runs until October 25 and focuses on the story of Whydah, the pirate ship that sank off the coast of Cape Cod almost 300 years ago. The exhibit does a good job breaking the pirate stereotypes Johnny Depp has created for us in Pirates of the Caribbean to paint an accurate picture of life aboard a pirate ship.

Though this exhibit has been running since February, I just recently noticed this three dimensional ad campaign. For the first couple months of the exhibit’s run, the only promotion I saw was a large Jolly Roger flag hung from the front door of the museum visible to cars on the expressway. I’m thinking this more extensive campaign was purposely launched to coincide with the busy summer tourism season in Chicago. When the weather gets hot and humid here in the windy city, there’s no better place to be than a nice, air conditioned museum.

In Chicago, there are hundreds and hundreds of bus stops with hundreds and hundreds of ads. An ad has got to be really good in order to grab attention. Even as a lover of advertising, I usually don’t give them a second glance. But this bus-riding pirate certainly grabbed my attention. For one, it really breaks through the clutter. And second, I welcome the distraction of an experiential bus shelter ad like this one. It provides me with entertainment as I’m tapping my toe waiting for the bus and gives me something to look at as I avoid the creepy stare of the weirdo sitting next to me. Besides, who wouldn’t want to wait for the bus next to a peg-legged pal? Arghhhh.


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Filed under Advertising, Chicago, Transit Advertising

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