Most advertisements today are so boring that many of us switch off, walk on or turn away immediately. In fact, even the biggest companies have been guilty of launching multi-million dollar campaigns that have proved as dull as dishwater. Perhaps it’s the result of 20 different marketing execs talking over one another in the boardroom. Or maybe it’s the lacklustre handiwork of an unpaid intern who just wants to leave on time. Either way, it seems like the advertising world is lacking a little imagination these days.
But then, every so often, an ad comes along that stops you in your tracks, makes you giggle or makes you think. These 19 creative campaigns do just that. In fact, they’re so clever that you’ll start to rethink everything you know about marketing.
This giant Hot Wheels loop was mounted on an overpass in Columbia in 2014, courtesy of ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. And it’s a real stroke of genius – just as long as you don’t try to drive up it, of course.
Is anyone else hungry for donuts now? This genius escalator ad was conceived by Brazilian advertising professional Ricardo Balbin. And while an increase in donut sales probably wasn’t the intended effect of the piece, it does increase our appetite for watching The Simpsons Movie now, too…
The link between air pollution and a gun might not be immediately obvious, but the visual impact of this social issue ad is up there with the best. Now that’s excellent image placement.
These terrifyingly brilliant 3D billboards were installed in Chicago in early 2013. And aside from being incredibly eye-catching, the real genius of this piece is how cleverly it’s been integrated with its surroundings, with the eponymous beast pulling its helpless victim from an apartment window.
You might think twice about how well you care for your teeth after seeing this advert, which was installed in a bowling alley by German company KQV Dental. The downside, however, is that it might just put you off throwing bowling balls at the pins…
Now this is what you call making good use of your surroundings. This Law & Order billboard popped up in New Zealand to promote the latest series of the legal drama in 2010 and makes brilliant use of a street lamp to hammer home the show’s appeal.
Shoppers on the ground level of this mall might well be wondering why they’re walking across a giant picture of an itchy dog. But for those on the next floor up, the truth reveals itself. This unmissable ad for flea and tick spray was installed in Indonesia in 2009 and is the work of creative agency Saatchi & Saatchi.
Dive underwater in this Malaysian pool, and you’ll discover something quite disturbing. Indeed, this stark warning against the perils of global warming places its audience in a truly nightmare scenario in which the world as we know it has been swallowed by water. This inventive and altogether terrifying campaign was devised by advertising agency Naga DDB in 2007.
Clever advertising doesn’t just take the form of posters and billboards, as evidenced by this hard-hitting Amnesty International 3D street sticker in Warsaw, Poland. Because while you probably didn’t realize it at first, this isn’t actually a real manhole. We bet no one still dared to walk over it, though.
These billboards were erected around electrical wires and poles in Indonesia in 2009. And while slightly grotesque – just imagine anyone actually letting their nose hair get that out of hand – they definitely get the message across.
In 2010 McDonald’s commandeered a pedestrian crossing in Switzerland to promote their fries. The brand faces stiff competition during Zurifest, the country’s biggest public festival, so eye-catching advertising was a must.
That’s one way to prove your cleaning products work. The question is, just how long will that stay sparklingly white with people walking over it all day, even with Mr. Clean coming to the rescue? For a short-term ad, though, this is extremely effective.
You’d have to be pretty sure of your marketing campaign to risk destroying a billboard over it. But the creative geniuses at Formula toothpaste in Indonesia had nothing to worry about: this ad is worth every penny.
The cinematic terror of this ocean view is second only to that of hearing the Jaws theme tune while you’re building your sandcastle. And with advertising like this behind it, it’s no wonder disaster film The Day After Tomorrow made $85 million in its opening weekend alone back in 2004.
These manhole covers may look brilliantly clever, but just be glad you can only see them. Because according to the New York Post, these 2006 Folgers coffee adverts by Saatchi & Saatchi weren’t exactly giving off the tantalizing aroma you’d expect from a freshly cup of brew. Instead, they smelt more like the sewers below. Oops.
This is another ad that might take a couple of seconds to understand, but when you do get it, you’ll realize how utterly clever it is. Indeed, using this American crosswalk to highlight the difference between crooked and straight teeth is the very definition of innovative. Well done, Altschul Orthodontics.
This brilliantly executed Dove advert in Tel Aviv, Israel, not only promotes the beauty brand; it also communicates a serious message and raises awareness about the pressures facing young girls today. And all in one fell, eye-catching swoop. Bravo, Dove.
Absolutely everything about Mondo Pasta’s ingenious boat advert works, from the tagline to the familiar action associated with eating spaghetti. And while you’ll have to have been around Germany in 2007 to spot it in real life, the memory of this wonderful ad campaign by Jung von Matt still lives on online.
Well, that’s one way to make your cars seem more exciting. We’ll just have to hope that nobody tries to actually leap across a bridge in a Smart car – as they may not live to see the aftermath. This perfectly executed piece of advertising was the brainchild of German creative agency BBDO Düsseldorf, and it was installed in the center of Rotterdam in 2007 to promote the launch of the new smart BRABUS car. Mission accomplished.