Americans are used to having their lives littered with billboards and standing advertisements, but lately, those passive ads have been getting interactive.
One of the coolest ideas for out-of-home ads come from sneaker companies that turn seeing the ad into interactive competitions. As Adweek reports, Reebok recently created an ad that’s basically designed like a vending machine, and dispenses free sneakers to anyone able to run fast enough past it.
Suddenly, the ad isn’t an ad at all — it’s an event. Passers-by compete for a chance at winning something as they run past the ad, trying to hit the designated speed of 17 kilometers-per-hour, or about 10.5 miles-per-hour. And those walking by who don’t want to try their feet for a chance to win some shoes are at least entertained by the chance to watch.
Reebok’s idea isn’t a 100-percent new one — Asics has previously challenged people to run faster than its ads — but it is a novel deployment of that idea. And it’s a great example of turning an ad many people might ignore into something they can’t help but spend some time on, even if briefly.
Turning an OOH ad into an interactive experience was also at the heart of VH1’s plans for its series “Dating Naked.” Last year, the network let Hollywood pedestrians peel off pieces of its billboard, slowly revealing the (obscured) bodies of the contestants beneath. Each sticker removed was a chance to win “Dating Naked”-themed stuff, like health and beauty products and a getaway at Terra Cotta Inn in Palm Springs, Calif.
Like Reebok’s ad, VH1 made a simple billboard into an experience for Hollywood passers-by. It became more than just something to look at and maybe remember, ornot: it became a contest, something to shoot photos of and share, and something to tell people about.
With virality becoming an ever-bigger deal in the world of advertising, there’s a lot to gain for making the advertising experience something deeper and more exciting than what people are traditionally used to. While billboards and other OOH ads can be effective, advertisers who are thinking creatively about engaging their audiences are making things that go beyond ads to become exciting, effective entertainment all their own.