Back in late 2013, Motorola came out with their new smartphone, the Moto X. The company made sure that it highlighted the ability to customize the phone, making a big deal about it being “designed by you.” While the phone itself contained impressive technological advancements, the print ad that Motorola ran for the phone is probably even more spectacular.
In January’s edition of Wired magazine, Motorola had a spread that allowed readers to change the color of the phone. It’s as unbelievable as it sounded (and looked) — until you dive into the electronics hidden in the pages. Incredibly thin LED lights, pressure sensors, and batteries comprised this ingenious print ad. Each different color “button” had a pressure sensor under it, signaling the lights to change to the color selected. Readers could experiment with 11 different colors, and watch as the paper seemingly changed color before their eyes. Interactive advertising experiences are becoming increasingly popular in a multitude of ways, as consumers are becoming more and more desensitized to the constant bombardment of marketing. Getting a consumer actively involved in the idea of a product can be the difference between signal and noise.
Creative thinkers often come up with the most abstract ways to express their art. JG Ballard, an English dystopian fiction author in the 1950s, created extremely cryptic and seemingly nonsensical billboards that did just that.
Ballard was an unusual character. He was one of the first New Wave science fiction writers; his writing style is so distinctive that “Ballardian” is an actual word used to describe novels. His novels, The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash (the former of which was banned in the US), drew sharp criticisms from a wide range of communities.
Before his career as a novelist began, Ballard put together a series of billboards which made no sense to viewers — until now. Appearing to be random words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs plastered on a billboard, they drew attention simply for being odd. The billboard series left even those who closely studied Ballard’s work scratching their heads. Recently, those scholars have discerned that the series may have been encrypted replicas of Salvador Dali paintings.
Ballard was a surrealism enthusiast, and Dali was his favorite artist. The placement of the words on the billboards, as well as the choice of words themselves, appear to match up with some of Dali’s paintings, including Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of a New Man and one of his most famous Persistence of Memory. In the billboard matching Persistence, there is a repetition of the word “time,” and a large “T-12” in the center of the board seems to reflect the clocks in the painting which point to 12. Additionally, the placement of the text also matches up with various subjects in the painting, including the words “total bureau” being placed where a shape in sand looks like a desk.
Was this truly Ballards message with the billboards? We may never really know. His mind seemed to work in strange ways. One critic even said he was “beyond psychiatric help,” a statement of which Ballard was proud. Artists always find new mediums in which to create their art, and Ballard simply chose a way that we are still struggling to decipher.
Over the next few months we’ll be running a series on billboards that managed to catch our attention in striking ways. Whether they trick our eyes, have fun interactive capabilities, or simply make our jaws drop, the marketing departments of these companies knocked it out of the park.
Anando: Milk Building
Getting kids to drink their milk can be a difficult task for parents. With all of the sugary, brightly-colored drinks and juices being advertised, plain ol’ milk can seem “boring.” Anando’s answer was to channel their inner-child and come up with this creative billboard. It shows the child pushing out part of the skyscraper. The ad channels the imagination of younger kids and hints at every kids’ dream of being a superhero. In this particular image, it blends so well with the sky that the illusion is almost perfect, definitely catching the attention of passersby.
This billboard, by the paint company Berger, is another great example of optical illusions in advertising. They made the corner of the billboard look like roller brush strokes, when in reality that corner of the billboard is simply missing. The matching hue of the roller is the finishing flourish to this interesting ad. We’re not quite sure how it would appear if it was cloudy or a different time of day, but it’ll definitely draw the eyes on a sunny day.
Putting an extremely creative spin on an ancient tool, McDonald’s promoted their breakfast menu with this sundial billboard. With the electric pole acting like a hand on a clock, it makes it way through choices like coffee, a cinnamon roll, and pancakes, not to mention McDonald’s classics. The simple but effective wordless design shows how you can kickstart your day with McDonald’s at any point.
Wrapping up our holiday advertisement series is the recently created, but exceptionally popular commercial from Amazon featuring a priest and an imam. Though not directly a holiday commercial, the gift giving and loving spirit is in tune with the holidays, and the commercial premiered around the holiday season, landing it a deserving spot here in our series.
Amazon definitely went for the heartstrings in their most recent commercial, aiming for a message of unity and love. The commercial focuses on two old, and some may say unlikely, friends; a Christian priest and a Muslim imam. We get to see the two have a nice chat, while making it very obvious that they both have bad knees. The two buy each other a gift. It turns out that they happened to order each other the same knee braces from Amazon.
Amazon speaks out on a controversial subject in this advertisement, since religious tensions have been increasing in many parts of the world. However, the sentiment of love and friendship can easily be agreed upon, especially in the spirit of the holidays. Pointedly showing the similarities between the two obviously different men, Amazon makes the point that we all share the same human struggles.
Though longer than all of the previous commercials, the storyline behind the ad keeps the viewer interested. The amusing, heartfelt resolution is enough to bring tears to the eyes of some. The commercial went viral soon after its release. It has over 1 million views on Facebook and over a million and a half on YouTube. It even got media attention as several outlets reported on the ad, including CNN, Fortune and Huff Post.
We’re moving from sweets to soups in our top holiday ads series. The Campbell’s Soup Snowman commercial has warmed hearts as much as the soup has warmed stomachs during the Christmas season.
Since it started running in 1995, the Campbell’s Snowman commercial has portrayed how soup helps to fight off the cold and warm everyone through the frigid holiday season. It focuses more on the comfort and feeling created by a warm bowl of soup rather than the product of Campbell’s soup itself.The special effects are also pretty spectacular for a commercial of the mid 90s, as the snowman melts into a little boy. The transformation is also a cute surprise for those watching, and it suddenly makes sense why the snowman is drinking very hot, very salty soup. This irony adds humor to the commercial on top of the cuteness, giving everyone a reason to smile.
You can watch the adorably creative commercial below, as well as find the links to the previous posts of this series.