Brilliant Billboard Traps 230,000 Real Bugs


Orphea billboard traps live bugs
How do you promote a new outdoor insect spray, Orphea, on a billboard in Milan? This clever effort turned the portion of the corresponding to the “spray” from a pictured can into a giant piece of fly paper. Over a period of days, the sticky trap captured hundreds of thousands of real insects. Watch the video:

Assuming that viewers can decode what is going on with this billboard – perhaps not a certainty for motorists whizzing by – it works on multiple levels. By incorporating live (at least to begin with) insects, the sign both attracts attention and appeals to multiple senses. While a picture of a bug on a sign may make our skin crawl, how about the thought of thousands of squirming, creepy-crawlies?

trapped bugsLikely, though, the press coverage of the billboard has extended its reach far beyond those passers-by able to view it in person.

In addition to its sensory aspects, the sign may score some points with viewers for actually removing a couple of hundred thousand bugs from the area. As impressive as that number is, it probably won’t put a serious dent in Milan’s insect population. Nevertheless, it seems like a lot and should earn Orphea some points with those viewers who think of bugs as pests to be destroyed. And, it ties in neatly with the outdoor-use nature of the product.

The sign concept was developed for Orphea by Publicis. The agency might have drawn even more attention to their effort had they been able to goad PETA into protesting the deaths of so many six-legged victims. More collateral damage: one has to sympathize with the unlucky signage workers tasked with removing the gooey, bug-laden billboard!

What do you think – one of the best billboards of the year?

  1. Anton Volney says

    I would be interested to know if there was any tracked performance on this ad. I come from the world of direct response copywriting, not creative copy…so I don’t know how that works…but cool idea…

  2. Jonny says

    Great Work!
    Simple and effective. lol

  3. Patti Hale says

    I see this as a very clever idea that also performs a service (killing insects), illustrates what the product does and creates a lasting image in consumers minds. Plus it has the potential for lots of word of mouth and earned media coverage. In short, I think it’s brilliant!

  4. Tom Spooler says

    Probably effective in raising brand awareness and lots of free airtime. Good Multi-level fodder for columns of this type. Useless in proving effectiveness of product. Probably wasn’t even used; Lights and flypaper action would take care of things. If anything, this Billboard “proves’ that the spray attracts bugs – or maybe insects in a can! Interesting for a company which claims its products repeal insects.

    Interesting to consider how the impact might change if something like birds, bunny rabbits, teddy bears or images of children somehow got stuck in the “death zone”.

  5. Ambrose Mugwump says

    It’s very clever, but would it make me buy the product? I doubt it, i probably would not even remember the brand, only that it was that one with the really clever ad.

  6. Matt says

    I don’t know. Unless Orphea itself contained a glue and was like liquid flypaper that you applied to different outdoor surfaces, this ad is kind of confusing. Clever for the sake of being clever, sacrificing a logical connection to the actual product.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      I agree that the billboard isn’t a product demo, but it gets attention (both from passers-by and bloggers/press) and is at least thematically related to dead bugs.

  7. tushnaa says

    indeed a very clever way of attracting viewers. at the same time, i realized that perhaps a minute creativity in the billboard has made the ad famous. So the trick lies in the creative thoughts of a person and the game is then in his hand.

  8. Akash says

    nice post.I would be interested to know if there was any tracked performance on this ad

  9. Sani says

    That is so awesome! Though if you were to just drive past it once in a while, how would you know that it is actually catching real bugs?

  10. Lavindra says

    I don’t grasp. Unless Orphea itself contained a glue and was like liquid paper that you just applied to completely different out of doors surfaces

  11. piyush says

    really effective..
    look like silent killer.. lol :-p

  12. John Demmon says

    It’s a clever idea. In Australia recently there was a similar billboard that attracted birds to sit on a perch. Unfortunately the perch was usually empty and it left the ad looking silly and I bet ineffective.

  13. Chris Angulo says

    Man, it’s like this billboard is functioning in real time 3D. I hope it’s just as simple as peeling the flypaper off and tossing it. I feel bad for the guy that gets that job.

  14. Jools Orange says

    What a clever idea. But it’s a bit disgusting to be honest lol.

  15. Gabe Wright says

    Genius ad! I think the people who are saying this ad doesn’t hit the mark are missing the bigger picture.

    This has far less to do with the can containing sticky paste or even a lot of dead bugs; instead it’s about creatively positioning a product to garner more attention than it would have done had the ‘dead bug’ element not been there.

    Would anyone have ever talked about this billboard if it featured the Orphea can and a picture of petrified insects running/flying away from it?

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