Outdoor Advertising – Form meets Function

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Advertising has a purpose – and that is usually to build awareness and acceptance of a brand in order to drive sales. Rather a selfish purpose when one thinks about it. But what if advertising had another purpose – to help make life a little easier in cities? That is the premise behind IBM’s creative outdoor advertising campaign. The campaign took a simple message, used a ubiquitous outdoor sign, but added a twist to it. Or, in this case, it added a ‘bend’ to the sign to make the signs improve just a few moments of our everyday lives.

By placing outdoor ads with a simple curve in city spots, the ads became seats for the weary, or shelter from the storm. The curves created benches, shelves, shelters, and ramps – showing that simple innovations are just as important to consumers as are complex technology innovations.

IBM is using the new ads to help encourage people to make their cities smarter. The company has a companion Web site – www.People4smartercities.com – where people around the world can share their ideas and concepts for improving urban life.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the use of advertising in society. How can we make advertising be good or useful to society?
  2. Show the video for the IBM billboard campaign: http://youtu.be/3oVMfjO6AAg
  3. What makes these outdoor ads effective for both advertising a company, as well as being useful in a community?
  4. Bring up IBM’s smarter city Web site and play the video on the home page: http://www-949.haw.ibm.com/people4smartercities/
  5.  Divide students into teams and have each team analyze a different video or idea on the site. What works? What doesn’t work? Can this campaign have a lasting impact?
  6. Challenge each team to come up with one idea that could be used in their city to improve daily life.

Source:  Brandchannel.com, 6/7/13

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