Outdoor Ads Red Line

Wisdom.Applied Wednesday: Outdoor Ads and the Urban Takeover

The landscape of outdoor advertising is changing by, well, the landscape of the outdoors. Wisdom.Applied Wednesday, let’s take a look at two pretty unique urban advertising campaigns, and why outdoor advertising is getting a little more creative.

Here’s a familiar scenario for those of us in a huge city like Chicago: you’re running late for a 10 a.m. flight out of Midway, trudging a hastily-packed suitcase along behind you as you make your way toward the train or a cab or, if you’re lucky, a parking garage with a car waiting for you. Almost as soon as you step out the door you realize that the big city is no place for that 29” Samsonite you just had to have for your last birthday. When you see stairs ahead—a roller bag’s worst nightmare, trust me—you’re about to give up for good and pledge loyalty to a life of carry-on luggage (no baggage fees!).

That’s when you see it off to one side—a beautiful savior of a ramp draped over the stairs. As you coast your way across, you think to yourself “What a smart move by the city!”

And just like that, IBM has successfully marketed itself to you. Don’t believe me? Check out their award-winning “Smarter Cities” campaign. (Hat tip to Jennifer for pointing this campaign out).



IMB’s campaign is just one particularly successful example of a trend in advertising that’s one of my personal favorites: urban advertising. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the majority of my life in urban locales, but I love seeing the creative ways in which advertisers can use the urban space for a successful marketing campaign. And without the luxuries of open highways for billboards, creative is the name of the game in the city where space is at a premium—just ask your friend in New York about managing the size of their one-bedroom apartment.

All jokes aside, the ability to successfully utilize urban space in a marketing campaign is a great tool. Aesthetically, they’re often eye-catching—much more than the average billboard—and because of that they manage to engage people without intruding upon their “me time” (like a TV spot). Even better, there’s definitely something to appreciate in an ad that breaks up the monotony of a daily commute or view.

Here’s a personal example of mine:

Red Line Cave Red Line Cave

That was the northeast entrance to the Red Line station at State and Lake here in Chicago, one of my regular stops. Over the summer, the Field Museum hosted a temporary exhibit on the Lascaux Cave Paintings from France. To promote the exhibit, the museum transformed the underground structure much more familiar to your average city-dweller—the subway—into a French cave. Sure beats the grimy tiles and fluorescent lighting, if you ask me.

Cover Photo Source: MCarter

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info] Kevin is a junior executive at SJG. A Texas native, he is currently working on obtaining a BA from Northwestern University in Comparative Literary Studies and Creative Writing, with a special interest in media and pop culture in Latin America and the Latino U.S. His love of TV is only outpaced by his love of his hometown San Antonio Spurs.[/author]