2022 seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye. Around the world, several social, cultural, and political moments shaped the year – many of which were highlighted by out-of-home displays that brought people together.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane with a roundup of our favourite OOH and billboard ads of 2022.
“Brave Ukraine” celebrated the year’s most remarkable story of resilience
“Bravery is our brand,” is what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said of his country earlier this year, and we don’t think many would argue against that idea.
Though it has been a difficult year for much of the world, the story of the Russian invasion of Ukraine captured the attention of the world to a unique degree. The bravery and resilience of all Ukrainians in the face of Russia’s military are nothing less than inspiring, and campaigns like this one, created by Kyiv and the Banda agency, help us to remember just what it is they continue to face to this day.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include this campaign on our list. Slava Ukraini.
Britain’s tribute to the queen honoured the life of Her Majesty
It’s hard to pick just one standout billboard honouring the late Queen Elizabeth II, so we didn’t. Around the world, countries mourned the loss of the United Kingdom’s longest-reigning monarch with displays and memorials, but perhaps no country did it better than the queen’s very own home.
Across the UK, advertising was paused to instead feature memorial displays that honoured and remembered Her Majesty. Screens and billboards were lit up with pictures of the queen, showcasing the outpour of love and support that brought the nation together.
Ben & Jerry’s promoted a better whirled
Ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s, along with former NFL star Colin Kaepernick, called attention to law enforcement funding with a series of billboards that appeared around LA back in February.
Starring the quarterback turned civil rights activist, the campaign promoted Kaepernick’s Change the Whirled frozen dessert while simultaneously asking, “Imagine if we invested in our communities” instead of investing millions into police funding.
The campaign ran for three days across traditional, digital, and mobile billboards driving around LA’s SoFi stadium on Game Day. We think the message was well-served.
McDonald’s: Take Away Your Takeaway took a stance against littering
Brands and organizations around the world placed a big emphasis on sustainability and environmental impact this year. McDonald’s Norway took a stance against littering with its attention-grabbing campaign highlighting the unfortunate reality of takeout wrappers being discarded on the side of the road.
Throughout a series of ads, the fast food giant called itself out for having too much of its packaging “ending up on the streets.” Perhaps the most impactful ad of the campaign was the street-level billboard that featured the chain’s famous golden arches pointing directly into a trash bin – reminding us that throwing away our garbage really is that easy. And we’re lovin’ it.
Corona made a floating billboard that cleaned a river
Floating billboards have been around for a while and get what we might generously describe as “mixed” reactions. But this billboard from Corona proved floating billboards have their place – it’s all down to the execution.
“This billboard removes plastic waste from this river,” the billboard says, and indeed, beneath the water’s surface was a skimmer that did just that. Plucking up solid and liquid waste, the billboard was that too-rare example of an installation that not only talks the talk in promoting sustainability but… swims the swim too. A great take on what a billboard can be.
Match reminded us to love ourselves first
We’ve all heard dating horror stories or maybe even experienced some not-so-great moments ourselves in the quest for love. This year, dating app Match boldly let us know that self-love is the most important kind there is.
Continuing its theme of ‘Adults Date Better’, the brand’s attention-grabbing billboards in New York and Los Angeles featured playful images of self-pleasure along with taglines like ‘Do You. Until You Find Someone Worth Doing.’ Rather than wasting time with the wrong people, Match encourages daters to look inwards and be more mindful in their dating. We love the not-so-subtle message that turned some (okay, lots) heads.
Heathrow Premium Lounges made a simple but strong case for travelling in style
In general, we like to see digital out-of-home campaigns that do things you can’t really do with static media – even something relatively basic, like having full-motion imagery. You don’t really get that with this campaign, and yet we love it all the same.
In a way, the mostly static (there’s a little movement going on, but not much) imagery, featuring prominent folks who claim to be fans of Heathrow’s Premium Lounges, works better than if you had all these folks moving onscreen. The effect is a bit like taking a stroll down the red carpet or a walk of fame to take your place among the luminaries that mark the way to the lounge. Great execution.
Tesco marked Ramadan with a cool timelapse campaign
We’re suckers for a good time lapse in OOH – we still think of a certain solar eclipse ad from years ago – so we didn’t want to miss out on sharing this Tesco piece that ran during Ramadan.
Paralleling the requirement that observing Muslims fast from sunup to sundown each day of Ramadan, the campaign displayed empty dishes for most of the day. With the approach and arrival of sundown, however, the dishes fill up with food, representing the breaking of the fast.
Paired with social media and in-store efforts as well, the campaign was a nice way for Tesco to share some love with the Muslim community. Definitely, one we liked seeing.
Teamland’s billboard was a business milestone
It isn’t really anything special to run an online ad – everyone does it all the time these days. But billboards are a different story. A company’s first billboard is a cause for celebration, something to share with everyone as a mark of success. And that’s why we liked Teamland’s billboard so much.
It’s a simple, straightforward ad – in a good way – but the enthusiasm Teamland and its supporters have for this campaign really made us smile. Congrats on this milestone for your business, Teamland. Best of luck in 2023.
GSoft got a lot of people’s attention with a highly targeted OOH + online campaign
Out-of-home is most often a mass medium, with billboards and other inventory used to deliver broadly appealing messages to large groups of people. But you can definitely go the other way with it, and we love how GSoft did earlier this year.
Pitching its solutions as offering an answer to challenges posed by modern-day business, GSoft delivered a series of OOH messages – alongside digital and other creative channels – to a bunch of Canadian companies, getting really cute with the personalized messaging.
It takes a lot of work to bring this kind of campaign to life, and we think it’s totally worth it. A great example of how to bring OOH into the fold alongside other advertising channels.
IKEA Canada’s Moving Day campaign hit the nail on the head
There’s perhaps no grievance more common amongst Quebecers than moving day. That’s right, every July 1st, hundreds of thousands of Quebecers pack up and move to their new homes, starting new lease agreements, painting new walls, and of course, building new furniture.
This year, IKEA Canada put a hilarious spin on an otherwise stressful day with its OOH Moving Day campaign. Billboards across the province played on the French language by replacing Quebec curse words (commonly used while moving) with IKEA product names, and the results were ‘Fryken’ funny. Bonus points that this unique campaign was executed via Broadsign Ads, Broadsign’s DOOH ad-buying platform.
StreetEasy’s Monopoly campaign helped New Yorkers ‘Win the Game of Real Estate’
One of the world’s most competitive real estate markets, New York City is laden with high prices and low inventory. Ask anyone who lives there, and they’ll tell you how daunting the process can be to find a great apartment.
StreetEasy’s ‘Win the Game of Real Estate’ campaign displayed Monopoly-style billboards around the city that highlighted how they could help buyers, sellers, and renters navigate the tricky market, putting a real-life spin on a classic board game. We particularly like the ads that focused on helping apartment hunters find the perfect place based on their requirements (hello, dishwasher?!). Who says you can’t have it all?
Timex put the competition on Do Not Disturb
Notification anxiety is real. With today’s devices being smaller and more portable than ever, it’s almost impossible to escape the constant pinging and buzzing that lets you know you have a notification.
Timex chose to challenge the rising popularity of smartwatches (we’re looking at you, AppleWatch) in a collaboration with clothing brand Adsum. To promote the Timex x Adsum MK1 watch, a minimal yet stylish timepiece, the brand erected a billboard in New York City that quickly gained popularity online.
The sleek billboard showcased the watch along with the tagline ‘Know the time without seeing you have 1,249 unanswered emails.’, a reference to the inability to escape notifications when wearing a smartwatch. We appreciated the ad’s return to simplicity, and OOH was the perfect method of delivery to remind us to live in the moment.
Samsonite’s Take What’s Yours promoted the importance of PTO
With fewer restrictions on air travel and an increase in consumer willingness to get out of town, luggage brand Samsonite knew that more people would be on the move this past summer.
As part of its ‘Take What’s Yours’ campaign, the brand ran digital OOH ads encouraging workers to take advantage of their personal time off (otherwise known as PTO) throughout the summer months. With billboard placements in key locations like office buildings, the ads were delivered to relevant audiences, specifically millennials.
Designed to look like out-of-office email notices, the ads showcased Samsonite luggage with taglines like ‘Set your status to Do Not Disturb’ and ‘Take what’s yours.’ The use of contextual targeting in this campaign made it a real winner in our eyes.
Kind Snacks gave us the recommended serving of deliciousness
Kind Snacks took grab-and-go to a new level this year with its London-based billboard that offered passersby a free, quick snack while promoting the importance of your daily nut serving.
Most adults know how important fruit is, but the brand’s research found that only a small percentage of the population understood the importance of eating nuts. So they set out to prove that nuts are just as essential to our overall health as fruits and vegetables.
Featuring a giant Kind cereal bar, the four-by-three-meter billboard encouraged audiences to stop and grab a healthy and delicious serving of fruit and Kind bars.
Canada Soccer scored big this year
This year, Canada headed to the world’s biggest soccer tournament for the first time since 1986, and Canada Soccer decided to celebrate in a big way. The organization highlighted the Canadian success story with a series of billboards that brought the nation together.
Across the country, the campaign featured OOH ad placements in the hometowns of the players who represented Canada on the world stage. From Samuel Piette in Montreal to Alphonso Davies in Edmonton, each billboard featured the player’s name, number, and hometown alongside the team’s hashtag #WeCan. This was a campaign we were happy to cheer on!
Taylor Swift took over Times Square (and more major cities)
One of 2022’s most anticipated album releases, Taylor Swift’s tenth studio album ‘Midnights’ broke music records across the globe. Notorious for leaving clues around upcoming albums or tours, Taylor Swift loves to make fans work at deciphering her hidden messages across social media. And the ‘Midnights’ campaign was no exception – only this time, billboards were part of the mix.
Rather than a full-fledged press tour, the artist teamed up with Spotify to take over billboards in major cities, most notably New York City’s Times Square. In the days leading up to the album’s October 21st release, lyrics debuted across DOOH screens, building excitement and bringing #Swifites together around the world. It was a perfect example of how OOH can reach mass audiences while generating buzz across all platforms.
A singular Black Diamond Cheestring went viral (yes, you read that right)
Black Diamond brand’s “Keep it Cheesy” campaign brought us back to the days of trading lunches in the school cafeteria. Along with agency Broken Heart Love Affair, the brand pulled at our heartstrings cheese strings with a nostalgic billboard in Toronto’s Dundas Square.
Designed to look like a classified ad, the billboard featured a singular Cheestring with the headline “For Trade: One Cheestring”, a play on the childlike quality of the snack. The ad even included a real phone number that audiences could call, which was answered by an actor playing the role of a professional trader – and audiences loved it!
The brand stunt caught the attention of several media outlets who believed the classified ad to be authentic, generating an estimated 213 million earned media impressions over the course of a few days. It was a great example of how OOH can help an ad go viral with even the most simple creatives.
“Psychic Wanted – You know where to apply”
Did you know that in addition to magic and escape artistry, Harry Houdini spent a lot of time debunking psychics and others who pretended to have paranormal powers? He’s just one example from a long line of folks who expose crooks that take advantage of the vulnerable, and it’s in that tradition that we chose to look at this entry in our list.
This is a public challenge and callout of delicious magnitude, thanks to the size and prominence offered by billboards, and we would kill to see what “psychics” said when they saw it. A great example of how OOH is not just a great tool for advertising but an excellent way to troll people as well.
Ms. Marvel surveyed the New Jersey Turnpike from atop a billboard
Ms. Marvel is a New Jersey-based superhero, so it only makes sense that Disney would buy up a billboard on the New Jersey turnpike for drivers to marvel at. Right? Get it?
Horrible jokes aside, it’s always cool to see static OOH executions that make the most of the potential inherent in the medium. Thinking outside the billboard really helps this ad stand out, and is a great fit for the subject matter as well.
Avocados From Mexico took over in Toronto
A delicious and healthy alternative to millennials owning houses, avocados deserve all the love, so we were thrilled to see the takeover that Avocados From Mexico ran in downtown Toronto.
Filling up the screens in Yonge-Dundas square, the ads had bold colours, simple messaging, and were accompanied by a tent on the ground where people could get more information about avocados, grab some promotional goodies, and take in the brand’s jingle – performed by a choir, of course.
And as if this wasn’t enough, this is another campaign where the OOH execution was paired with some great online ads as well. Delicious.
A teen-led billboard campaign urged action on violence
When we think of billboards, it’s usually with an idea of big brands and flashy promotions in mind. But billboards are available to anyone, and very often, they are used to deliver messages that matter greatly to our countries and communities.
An example we like a lot is this small campaign from Indianapolis, which was conceived of by local teens as a way of spreading awareness of what they believed to be the causes of violence in their city. Meant equally as a conversation starter and an appeal to action, the billboards gained plenty of local attention and accolades from local leadership.
It’s a nice reminder that we all can and should have a voice in discussing the things that impact us, and that billboards can be a great tool for amplifying important messages.
Spotlight on anamorphic billboards
Versace brought luxury to life with 3D LED billboard
To promote its new Greca Goddess handbag, luxury fashion house Versace brought a mythical red goddess to the streets of Chengdu, London, and New York City with its eye-catching anamorphic billboard.
Created with Ocean Studio, the 30-second DeepScreen display featured a playful goddess coming to life to snag the bag. We particularly like how the ad interacted with passersby: once the goddess noticed she had an audience, she quickly hid behind a Versace-branded curtain. It was a fashionable and creative take on anamorphic DOOH capabilities.
Subway satisfied our hunger for fresh advertising
Subway delivered on its ‘eat fresh’ brand slogan in a big way this year. Over the course of a weekend, the sandwich chain took over a large, interactive 3D billboard in London to allow audiences to create their own Sub virtually.
By scanning a QR code embedded into the OOH ad, audiences could fully customize a unique sandwich at their fingertips, choosing everything from the bread to the toppings. Once done, the sandwiches were then displayed on the big screen, showcasing each creation in a larger-than-life format.
Even better, Subway ambassadors hidden within the crowd would surprise audiences with their custom creations as their sandwiches appeared overhead. We think it was the perfect blend of creativity and deliciousness.
Resident Evil’s 3D zombie was really, truly terrifying
As anamorphic billboards become more popular, it seems like more brands and advertisers are pushing the limits on what’s considered appropriate for public display. This year, there were many talks over whether Resident Evil’s 3D zombie billboard was too scary for a public place. We’re not sure where we stand on that debate, but we are sure that the series’ ultra-realistic NYC billboard caught our attention in a startling way. Displayed using 3D technology, the installation featured a zombie creature that broke out of the screen before flicking its tongue at passing audiences. Whether you love them or hate them, we think shock-value billboards are here to stay.
Pokemon Go celebrated World Cat Day in style AND in 3D
There are way fewer people endangering themselves walking around head-down and playing Pokemon Go these days, but the game still has a significant following. And to keep the love alive, Pokemon Go often delivers really fun OOH campaigns to keep fans excited and draw folks back in for some more fun catching ‘em all.
Case in point: This 3D billboard for World Cat Day. Featuring a few different forms of Meowth and some other Pokecats as well, it’s a super cute ad with a nice 3D effect that capitalizes very well on the world’s love of cats, Pokemon, and cat Pokemon. Consider us sold.
A Morbius 3D billboard in Italy promoted the cinematic event of the year
With everything that’s happened in 2022, and all the great movies that have come out over the course of the year, it’s easy to forget that this summer was, and forever shall be remembered as, the summer of Morbius. Please note that this is a joke.
Was this 3D billboard actually one of the most impressive of the year? Maybe not. But sometimes, we like to celebrate the unintentionally significant things, and because the online meme machine went crazy for Morbius in the early summer, we wanted to give this billboard a special mention all the same.
A 3D Goldfish Mega Bites ad got us really hungry
Goldfish are tasty and cute and look great on a billboard. That’s what we learned earlier in the year with an anamorphic 3D execution in downtown Toronto.
Robots, tasty snacks, 3D… really, this ad has it all. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to buy a bag of Goldfish to snack on.
A 3D Boba Fett loomed large over the people of NYC
Boba Fett is maybe the coolest villain with the worst “death” of all time – if we just look at the original Star Wars trilogy. But fans’ love never wavered, so Disney brought the bounty hunter back for his own show on Disney+ this year. It’s only appropriate that the occasion was marked with a neat 3D billboard.
It doesn’t get crazy. You basically just see Boba Fett, larger than life, walking around and looking down on the crowds in NYC. But the simplicity works for a character this iconic.
We also loved the video that was put out talking about the creative process behind this campaign. Definitely, one to watch.
Top Gun: Maverick’s 3D billboards soared to new heights
Taking over the number 1 spot in box offices around the world, the Top Gun: Maverick movie starring Tom Cruise was one of the biggest cinema moments of 2022. With so much hype surrounding its release, it’s no surprise that its promotional campaign needed to be larger-than-life, and it was.
Paramount Pictures rolled out a series of 3D billboards promoting the movie in major cities like Tokyo, Melbourne, London, and New York. Each billboard featured scenes from the movie, including its famous fighter jet propelling toward the crowd in an exhilarating display. Tapping into the creative potential of 3D billboards is something we hope to see more of next year, and Paramount’s campaign showed us just how impactful anamorphic displays could be for entertainment releases.