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VOL. 126 | NO. 179 | Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lori Turner

Lori Turner-Wilson

The World Is Your Billboard

By Lori Turner-Wilson

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Mere minutes after stepping off the plane in Vegas, I was reminded how well Sin City leverages every piece of potential marketing real estate imaginable.

Billboard advertising, also called “outdoor” or “out of home,” isn’t simply relegated to traditional roadside boards. It’s in some of the most unexpected of locations. And much of it is grand in scale, design and message. Would you expect anything less of Vegas?

The shift to unconventional billboard space is due, in part, to how increasingly scarce and expensive traditional boards are becoming, forcing advertisers to get creative. This reality, combined with emerging printing capabilities, allows companies like the long-standing Flamingo Hotel and Casino to transform an entire side of its hotel into a giant billboard using a specially printed mesh that prevents hotel room views from being obstructed.

On a prior trip to Las Vegas, while waiting for my luggage, I noticed a commotion moving like a wave around the baggage carousel – one traveler after another reacted. Then the cause of the commotion made its way around the corner to me.

It was a small, red trunk with a pair of women’s legs protruding from the side, as though she had been cut in half. The trunk was simply labeled “Lance Burton, Master Magician, Monte Carlo.” This edgy stunt marketing effort served as its own form of mobile billboard marketing.

While Vegas certainly approaches outdoor advertising in a majestic fashion, they haven’t cornered the market on creativity.

To make a big splash in the market, the Monterey Bay Aquarium turned the subway in San Francisco into what they coined the “Tunnel of Love: The Secret Lives of Seahorses” to encourage residents to fall in love with seahorses again. The tunnel system was so engulfed – floor to ceiling – with vivid, realistic under-the-sea imagery that you might forget for an instance that you’re in the subway. It takes creativity to “see” a virtual aquarium in an everyday subway tunnel.

At the 2009 Tour De France, Nike opted to promote its positive brand attributes to cyclists by temporarily drawing more than 100,000 motivational messages on the road course in chalk – thanks to a bit of smart technology called a “chalkbot.” Defying the confinements of traditional billboards, Nike has also been known to float billboards on barges down busy waterways.

To promote its office supply line, FedEx installed an oversized (actually human-sized) bottle of correction fluid near a busy crosswalk adorned with white stripes. The location of the bottle, which was labeled “Office Products Now at FedExKinkos.com,” implied that city workers had actually used it to paint the streets white.

No matter the size of your company, unique advertising opportunities are endless. If you just open your mind to possibilities and pay attention, you’ll see that the world is your billboard.

Visit redrovercompany.wordpress.com for photos of the billboards ads featured in this column.

Lori Turner-Wilson is managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Facebook and Twitter.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 20 39 190
BUILDING PERMITS 0 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 17 135 753
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 53 329
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0