Don’t Jump off the Billboard

BMW-Overnight-Test-Drive-BillboardIf you thought you saw someone sitting on top of a tall billboard with a giant teddy bear, would call for 911 to help them get down or so that the won’t jump off?

When a BMW dealer posted the add above 3-D billboard design, several people did just that, not realizing the “person” was actually a mannequin dressed in pajamas with a large teddy bear. After the first few people called to the police to get them down, the dispatchers figured things out and reassured motorists that it was just a highway billboard advertisement.

While the mannequin stayed in place, the original teddy bear had to be replaced and fastened more securely. The companies running the ad never found that original teddy bear.

Free and Effective Advertising

The 3-dimensional figures brought home the point that you could take a BMW home, sleep overnight and bring the car back the next as part of your test drive. It is a well-known fact, that car dealers are much, much more likely to make a sale when the driver takes a car for a test drive. Consequently, the billboard advertisement and campaign increased requests for test drives and sales substantially.

However, there was also a media buzz, generating calls from all over the US as well as London, Scotland, and Amsterdam. As the sales manager commented, “It’s a million dollars’ worth of advertising—free of charge.”

Billboard Safety Issues?

In an effort to avoid distracted drivers and the resulting accidents, certain states prohibit the place of billboards that distract drivers. For example, in Nashville and much of Tennessee, digital billboards cannot contain video and each ad must last at least 8 seconds. However, Connecticut state police have not commented on this board design.

3D and Cars

Mercedes Benze installed a 3-dimensional board on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood that featured a mannequin dressed as a billboard installer as if he was unveiling the price of the Mercedes CLA model. In this case there were no calls from worried drivers.

However, a Des Moines County, Iowa, the story was a bit different. The sheriff requested the owner take down a mannequin sitting on top of billboard. There were simply too many concerned citizens.

Effective Billboard Designs

In the end, 3D components break through advertising clutter. Most advertisers do not put in the extra creativity. So adding features to a billboards startles drivers and passengers and makes them take a second look. Personally, I still take a second look at the Chick-Fil-A boards, even though I know they are going to have model cows.