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Light up Consumer Interest

The Economist has a brand that it is a magazine for leading, deep thinkers. As we have all seen cartoons often use light bulbs to indicate when a person has a good idea. This billboard in Britain cleverly combines the two ideas, by having a light bulb light up , suggesting that a pedestrian that walks under the board is smart enough to read The Economist.

Picture of a billboard with a lightbulb that lights up as a person walks under the light bulb

In addition to the fact that it is interactive, the board is appealing because we all want to be in the elite crowd. The board subtly tells us that only deep thinkers truly get what The Economist talks about.

Consumers as Part of the Ad (Brought to You by New Technology)

This simple billboard uses motion detectors at the base of the light bulb to tell it when someone is under the billboard. Then it “knows” to turn on the light bulb.

Even if the pedestrian does not realize his “brains” are turning on the billboard’s light bulb, drivers and walkers farther away will see the flashing light and take notice.

Consider these other interactive billboards (many of them in London and Britain)

  • The Lookup campaign by British Airways shows a child tracking, in real time, the path of one of their planes as it passes overhead.
  • A domestic abuse billboard campaign in London’s Euston rail station that gives pedestrians the ability to use the cellphone to jerk a yelling man from one billboard to another
  • In London’s Victoria Station, there is a spot on the floor with a “look up sticker.” People who dare to go to the spot get to interact with a holographic angel that descends from the sky. (You can see a video here: )
  • Jameson Whiskey designed a billboard that talks to directly to pedestrians.

Does an Interactive Billboard Work?

Studies have shown that on average it takes at least 7 views of a billboard for a person to remember the message (which is much less than other mass media.) However, we are all bombarded with enough advertisements, that many of us filter out many, if not most of the advertising that we see.

The Economist is smart to draw in the customer using an interactive billboard because when the person actively engages with the billboard, they become one with the message; they drop their filters. These billboards are still new enough to capture their attention and inspire a reaction.