Start Me Up: Brilliant Billboard

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Billboards can be an effective medium, but tend to be very low in viewer engagement. Most outdoor advertising is designed to be viewed in a second or less as motorists whiz by. Here’s an example of how one advertiser turned that idea upside-down to create a fully interactive billboard:

As shown in the video, viewers can “start” the car by sending a text message from their mobile phone. (The campaign was created by GT Media and JCDecaux using technology provided by Púca.)

I think this ad works at two levels. Most obviously, there’s the novelty of being able to make a billboard do something. Most outdoor ads are entirely static, and the fact that this one changes its status in response to a text message is startling and intriguing.

From a neuromarketing perspective, this billboard also conveys a subtle “ownership” message that might increase the probability of a sale. Research has shown that touching or holding an object can be enough to produce this effect. To me, it seems likely that “starting” the Honda in the billboard might well do the same. This isn’t as potent as, say, a salesperson handing you the keys to the real thing for a test drive, but certainly seems much better than looking at a mere picture of the car.

(Thanks to Olivier Blanchard of The BrandBuilder Blog for tweeting a link to this ad.)

By |January 20th, 2010|

About the Author:

Roger Dooley is the author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing (Wiley). He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and writes at Entrepreneur and Forbes. Learn more at RogerDooley.com, and follow him on Twitter at @rogerdooley.


  1. nextbrett January 20, 2010 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Can’t imagine the smoke pouring out the exhaust would send a very good message? Bu the idea is an interesting one.

    • Roger Dooley
      Twitter: rogerdooley
      January 20, 2010 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      Hmmm, good point about the exhaust, nextbrett…


  2. Akash Sharma
    Twitter: MrAkashSharma
    January 21, 2010 at 8:52 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this, It offers great level of engagement and I think if a billboard has to prove its worth, it should have the same two sided essence.

  3. Sculptor?!? January 21, 2010 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Interesting. I didn’t interpret that as ‘smoke’ (and therefore bad), just exhaust clouds like you get first thing on a cold morning. Though I’ll admit that’s due probably to the fact that I drive a diesel, and it’s winter…

    And from the marketing perspective, what a racket! Talk about getting an ad to pay for itself – they’re literally having the targets pay for the ad through the text charges. Fantastic.

  4. jooles January 26, 2010 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    I immediately thought “pollution”.

  5. Robert February 1, 2010 at 4:59 am - Reply

    I thought of pollution, too. Just too much smoke.

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