Category Archives: Billboards

Chobani lets fans do the talking

The other day when I was walking to work, I can across this billboard for Chobani Greek yogurt.

The billboard is very simple, featuring a cup of the Greek yogurt and a quote from a devoted Chobani fan.

“Chobani is heaven!!!!!!!”

The quote? Brought to you by @Kgmoll via Twitter.

The billboard is part of a larger campaign that revolves around customers’ love of Chobani Greek yogurt. Visitors to Chobani’s website are even invited to submit their Cobani “love stories”….video clips, photos, recipes or anything that displays their love for the Greek yogurt. Each week, Chobani gives away a free case of yogurt to the story with the most votes.

Why? Because satisfied customers are the best spokespeople. Look, even Cleo the bird loves his Chobani!

I’m a big fan of Chobani. And now? I’m a big fan of Chobani’s marketing strategy, too!


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Show and Tell

Have you noticed that lately every other movie that comes to the theaters is in 3D? Toy Story. Avatar. Resident Evil. No genre is immune the 3D explosion.

And now, it seems advertising is jumping on the 3D bandwagon.

Case in point? A Wonderbra billboard currently hanging in London. The ad features Brazilian model Sabraine Banando displaying her assets with the headline “Experience the Full Effect.”

Does the image look blurry to you? Well, that’s because if you just happen to pass this billboard and have your 3D goggles handy (and who doesn’t?), the ad will appear in 3D. Yup, that’s right. Sabraine’s boobs will show you exactly how a Wonderbra can make your boobs pop.

It’s an interesting idea, and it plays off the growing trend of 3D movies. But some people seem to think it’s going to cause car accidents. Maybe so. Maybe a bigger concern is, who carries around 3D glasses with them at all times? And at the end of the day, a 3D billboard without 3D glasses is just a blurry image that’s guaranteed to give you a headache.


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PETA Strikes Again

Save the Whales

First it was getting on President Obama for swatting a fly during an interview. And now PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) strikes again…with a billboard that graces the side of Atlantic Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida.

The headline is innocent enough:

“Save the Whales”

But the message has nothing to do with keeping Shamu and Willy safe from extinction.

The billboard pictures an overweight, Caucasian woman clad in an unforgiving bikini. And the subhead reads:

“Loose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian.”

Apparently, PETA hung this billboard as a way to remind people that there is a different way to lose weight: becoming vegetarian.

But, as they’ve been known to do, PETA has offended people. And it’s no wonder. Calling an obese woman a whale is hardly a good way to make friends.

Aside from being offensive, the message isn’t very accurate. For one, skinny is not always healthy. And second, I know plenty of skinny meat-eaters and overweight vegetarians. And if you think about it, a lot of common junk food is vegetarian. Trading in fish and beef for Doritos and bread isn’t exactly a recipe for weight loss. At the end of the day, the only way to lose weight is to eat nutritious, healthy foods (whether you’re a vegetarian or a carnivore) and exercise.

PETA certainly gained a lot of buzz from this ad. But I think they may have also lost some supporters along the way.

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Airplanes and the 2016 Olympics


A couple months ago, my brother and I were tasked with meeting my parents at the airport to drive them home after a trip to Italy. Since we arrived early, we immediately headed to the “cell phone lot” at O’Hare Airport. In this lot, cars are allowed to park for a limited time for free while waiting on the arrival of the flights of friends and family.

Upon entering the cell phone lot, we were greeted by a handful of people patiently waiting in their cars and a digital billboard glaring down at us. The billboard alternated between displaying flight arrival times and flashing advertisements promoting Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.

I have to say, I’m not usually a fan of traditional advertising become digitalized. I think digital billboards on the interstate are distracting and obnoxious, and digitalized bus-side advertisements have a certain way of burning my retinas. But for a captive audience like folks waiting to pick up friends and family from a trip, this isn’t such a bad idea.

Drivers feel like the billboards are benefitting them by providing flight arrival times…eliminating  the need to hit redial a million times to find out how late Aunt Patty’s flight is running. And since they’re already staring up anyway, they’ll likely keep looking while an ad graces the giant board. Besides, there’s not much else to do in an airport parking lot (especially if you’re driving alone). Some drivers may even appreciate the billboards as a form of entertainment. My only complaint? The people responsible for this billboard seem to assume drivers are only parked in the lot for five minutes. We were in the parking lot for 20 minutes and we saw the same ad over and over. Mix it up a little, folks! I really think that  including a number of different ads would make people even more inclined to keep watching.

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Filed under Billboards, Chicago, Transit Advertising

A Brand Mooch

ipod and rona

In late April, folks making the morning commute to Montreal, Canada via the Jacques Cartier Bridge probably did double-takes as they passed by a familiar iPod Nano Chrome billboard. That’s because on this particular morning commute, a billboard for Canadian home improvement store Rona was suspended directly under the iPod board by wire and two cranes. The ad, promoting the home improvement retailer’s paint recycling program, was strategically placed under the iPod board so it appeared as though the Rona paint cans were collecting the bright drips of paint falling from the colorful iPods. The advertisement remained in place for the duration of the day’s morning commute, from 6-11:30 AM.

The copy on the billboard reads: “Nous recuperons les restes de peinture.” To us English-speakers: “We collect leftover paint.”

Even though these two brands aren’t relevant to each other, Rona’s creative department saw an opportunity to use a strong brand to its advantage and jumped at it. Apparently, the art director working on the Rona account just came up with this fun idea one day while walking to work. So I guess what they say about constantly looking for inspiration everywhere holds true.

Rona’s advertisement for their paint recycling program is a creative way to piggyback off a well known brand with a reputation for being cool and trendsetting. Since Apple is such a big name, there’s a good chance that any addition to one of their billboards will attract attention. Perhaps commuters first thought that the addition to the billboard had something to do with yet another innovation brought to us by Apple. Their guess ended up being wrong, but consumers definitely took notice. As a result, Rona wins and ends up getting the word out to the morning commuters about their paint recycling program.  

I think this is a really fun, creative way to “mooch” off of a strong brand to get a company’s message out to its target audience. And I know the advertisement was considered legal since the billboards existed as two separate ads. But I can’t help but wonder what Apple thought of the whole thing.

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Filed under Advertising, Billboards, International

Sometimes It’s Easy (and Beautiful) Being Green

Earlier this month, Saatchi & Saatchi LA launched a campaign to introduce the third generation Toyota Prius. The whimsical commercial features a new Prius driving around the world while pulling the sun in its wake. In the background, nature is in perfect harmony with happy clouds, fields and flowers everywhere. The background music is a happy-go-lucky tune that I find myself humming for hours after seeing the commercial. The tagline of this beautiful campaign is: “Harmony between man, nature and machine.”

In addition this TV spot, it looks like Toyota is set to launch some experiential marketing tactics in half a dozen cities this summer. For one, Toyota will be placing oversized solar flower sculptures in populated areas like public parks. These sculptures will provide free wi-fi and will serve as a place to relax and recharge both minds and electronic devices like phones and computers.

Toyota will also install solar ventilation in bus shelters across the country. This will allow consumers to interact with the brand firsthand as they experience how the solar panels of Prius’ solar roof are designed to help cool the parked vehicle. As a bonus, hot, sweaty bus riders will have a cool, comfortable place to chill out and wait for the bus on a steamy summer day. Customers can express their gratitude to Toyota by investing in a shiny new Prius.

Finally, California residents will be able to enjoy Prius “living” billboards alongside major highways made of live flowers.

I love the Prius spot because it’s different from other car commercials. For one, it doesn’t feature hero shots of the car driving off road on rough terrain like the mountains or the desert. And second, it taps more into the sensations, feelings and emotions of buying an eco-friendly vehicle instead of features like a horsepower and 4-wheel drive. But it’s still sure to include some of the most important features of driving a Prius.  

“It gives the world fewer smog-forming emissions. And it gives you a 50 mile per gallon rating.”

It’s the best of both worlds. Toyota has struck the balance between the needs of man and the needs of nature. They have, if you will, achieved “harmony between man, nature and machine.”

I know that a plethora of companies are making green claims right now to increase sales, and I really don’t have any hard facts about why a Prius is so great for the environment. Also, and as a city dweller, I know that riding my bike or taking public transporation is even better for the environment than a Prius. In other words, I have no intentions of running out to buy a third generation Prius. But this commercial is beautifully done. Every time I see it, I take notice. And I can’t help but feel laid back, relaxed and happy.  Just like the earth would feel if everyone traded in their Hummers and Escalades for a Prius.


Filed under Advertising, Auto Industry, Billboards, Chicago, Commercials, Transit Advertising

The Manly Diet Cola

Pepsi MaxI was riding my bike downtown today when I came across this outdoor ad for Pepsi Max. The billboard features a Pepsi Max can that looks like it’s been crushed by a mighty hand along with this headline:

“The first diet cola for men.”

This billboard reminded me of the TV ads for this product that came out a few months ago. You remember the Super Bowl, “I’m Good” commercials? In each spot, men are shown in various dangerous and painful situations. A guy gets hit in the head with a golf club. Another has a bowling ball dropped on him. And after each sequence, the injured actor says, “I’m Good.” The voiceover says:

 “Men can take anything. Except the taste of a diet cola.”

Well, fear no more gentleman, because Pepsi Max is the answer. It’s a zero calorie, sugar-free, carbohydrate-free, ginseng infused soda just for men. And to get the message across that it’s macho to drink Pepsi Max, the ads try their darnedest to be as stereotypically manly as possible, complete with pain, injury and plenty of crushed cans.

Apparently when the product was first introduced, it was called Diet Pepsi Max. But they’ve even eliminated the “diet” from the product’s name to make it sound just a little manlier. I don’t get it. I know plenty of gents who drink Diet Pepsi without embarrassment. I can’t imagine Pepsi Max tastes much different. And if a fella really wanted to get a good jolt of caffeine, I’d imagine he would turn to an energy drink instead since Pepsi Max has less caffeine than the average energy drink. So is this soda trying to compete with other diet colas? Or is it competing with more highly caffeinated energy drinks?

I think my problem is that I’m not a fan of gender-focused products where gender doesn’t really matter…like food. Luna bars are the “whole nutrition bar for women.” And now Pepsi Max is the diet soda for men.  Sure, ladies and gents have different nutritional needs, but who’s to say a guy can’t enjoy a Luna bar and a Diet Pepsi every now and then?

I really think that guys who want a calorie-free drink will continue to drink diet. And men who want an extra hit of energy will continue to turn to Red Bull and Rockstar. I hate to burst your carbonated bubble, Pepsi, but Pepsi Max is just another diet cola.

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