The Return of the Pretty Cool Billboard Advertisements

    The UTEC billboard that generates water
    The UTEC billboard that generates water
    26th February 2013

    It’s not often that you see a billboard advertisement and think “that’s pretty cool”. However, this week, UTEC and Sony are the cool kids of the billboard block

    To see two examples in the space of a week that garner the same response is even rarer still, but that’s exactly what happened last week when numerous different trend watching sites went crazy over two new billboard advertisements with diverse aims.

    In Lima, Peru, agency Mayo DraftFCB has created what it claims to be the first billboard in the world that produces water. The city, which is the second largest capital city in the world and boasts humidity levels of 98%, is situated on a desert which means that a vast percentage of the local population are reliant on drawing water from wells that often get polluted.


    UTEC - Potable Water Generator

    Provided by: MAYOPERUDraftFCB


    So Mayo DraftFCB created a billboard for the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) that uses reverse osmosis to offer locals clean water. The billboard has been fitted out with a clever system that captures humidity and turns it into purified water, which is then stored in tanks fitted into the body of the billboard. When local residents need water they simply switch on the taps situated at the billboard’s base.

    utec billboard campaign image of the process of water collection

    It’s a fantastic model that could easily be rolled out to other parts of the world where people do not have access to clean water. An advertiser – for arguments sake a giant drinks company like Coca-Cola – could foot the bill for the erection of the billboard and the supporting background technology. The payoff for the billboard sponsor is that it gets to take prominent advertising space yet at the same time it ticks a few corporate social responsibility boxes by providing clean water to local residents around the clock.       

    Somewhat less philanthropic, but no less pioneering, Sony recently unleashed a Headphone Music Festival in Tokyo to promote a new set of headphones that it’s developed specifically for smartphones. To convey the “higher quality music experience” that the new headsets offer Sony appointed the agency Naked Communications to come up with an innovative marketing campaign. Its solution was an augmented reality music festival brought to life through Sony’s SmartAR technology. Music fans simply downloaded the app, put on their headphones and then by scanning a printed poster for the event they were able to view one of four ‘virtual’ performances on their phone by popular local bands. 



    Provided by: SonyJpHeadphone


    It may be a more rock and roll concept than the water producing billboard, but each example has its own individual merits and both are noteworthy additions to the growing pantheon of highly inventive billboard advertisements lining our roadsides at the moment. 







    Laurel Brunner's article on The Mobile Opportunity for Print

    A Lightwords Imaging article on the Thin End of the New Wide Format Technology Wedge


      A Print Innovator article on The success of NFC


    Rock LaManna's article on The opportunities galore in an industry in decline