The Year in Ideas – The Times 29th December 2007
From Islam-friendly finance to the fall of Z-list celebrity, and from the rise of supercrunching to the return of the bonkbuster, leading commentators and Times writers chart the major cultural, economic and social changes of 2007 and offer their predictions on the shape of the year ahead.
The new billboard – Mark Borkowski
Outdoor advertising is about to change for ever as technology and creative ambition fuse a new reality and turn the traditional medium into something unexpected. If you hoped to escape the influence of the marketing folk on a stroll to the shops, think again. Consider the contemporary Tube escalators adorned with HD digital screens that engage us with glossy commercials and films. The revolution now integrates performers, props, product displays and other branded 3D elements into the new LED (light emitting diode) billboard medium.
In 2007, adidas sponsored soccer matches between two athletes suspended on wires high above the streets of Tokyo and Osaka. The players acted out a game of football with an adidas billboard serving as the football field backdrop (above). Meanwhile, as part of a guerrilla marketing campaign for KFC, a giant Colonel Sanders image was laid out in the Nevada desert and can now be seen on Google Earth.
There are Bluetooth billboards that interact with mobile phones, BlueCasting (transmitting) songs or movie clips to the PDAs and phones of passers-by. LED also allows instant message uploading via the internet, so community messages and public-service announcements can also run on the signs. There are even roadside listening billboards that profile commuters as they speed by, then personalise ads based on those profiles. So, if the road is clogged with Classic FM listeners it might make a pitch for a high-quality car. If Radio 4 is on, the billboard could change to ads for an airline or gourmet grocery.
We are in a brave new world in which the dark art of ad craft is operated by disciples with a desire to bewitch the consumer with anamorphic engagement. It is improperganda – an alchemy of brand experience geared to generate consumer buzz. Our streets will never be free from legal graffiti, subversive mobile posters, in-your-face brand experiences and guerilla projections.