Our 20 Favourite OOH and Billboard Ads of 2023

December 12, 2023Kayla Caticchio

As we stride into a new year, now is the perfect time to reflect on some of the incredible out-of-home (OOH) advertising that appeared throughout 2023. From creative copy to brand takeovers and anamorphic executions, we saw billboards become more than just ads – they were thought-provoking canvases that brought people together.

Let’s dive into some of our favourite OOH and billboard ads from around the world!

Duolingo reminded us to never give up – even on Quitter’s Day

The second Friday in January, known as Quitter’s Day, is when most people give up on their resolutions (hey, we think two weeks is a solid attempt). Language-learning platform Duolingo decided to challenge us this year by releasing its owl mascot on the streets of NYC to encourage users not to give up on their goal of learning a new language.

From subway platforms to a Times Square takeover, billboards around the city displayed the app’s infamous notifications with messaging like ‘Don’t give up this quitter’s day!’ and ‘Chris, did you do your Duolingo?’ That’s one way to send words of encouragement.

IKEA’s 62ft activation really bagged our attention

If you’re anything like us, chances are you have at least one of IKEA’s iconic blue Frakta shopping bags somewhere around the house. To celebrate its new store on London’s Oxford Street, opening in 2024, the retailer erected a colossal 62ft x 128ft installation in one of the city’s most visited shopping destinations.

Covering the building’s scaffolding, the display was wrapped in IKEA’s signature blue colour with the giant Frakta shopping handle draped over the front, replicating its beloved shopping bag. We ‘tote’-ally dig how simple yet eye-catching this oversized activation was!

Spotify Wrapped can’t fake a feeling, and we can’t hide our love for it

We look forward to Spotify’s Wrapped campaign every year, and it never disappoints. To close out 2023, the music streaming platform once again launched its highly-anticipated recap of users’ listening habits – and it included some fantastic OOH displays.

With its tagline of ‘Wrapped or It Didn’t Happen,’ the campaign sought to prove that you ‘can’t fake a feeling’ by highlighting real and fun stats across a mix of digital and static billboards. From rapper Ice Spice’s Word of the Year billboard to Jennette McCurdy’s audiobook that inspired listeners to curate playlists that mention therapy, each #SpotifyWrapped ad brought audiences together to reflect on shared experiences throughout the year. We couldn’t just pick one OOH display from this amazing campaign, especially since it included an attention-grabbing mix of static, digital, 3D, and some CGI.

Oatly hacked its outdoor murals

Oatly, known for its plant-based dairy alternatives, recently faced legislative hurdles when entering the French market. In Paris, murals are only accepted if done ‘artfully’ without using any products or logos.

To get around this major advertising challenge, the brand created an experience by designing text-centric murals featuring messaging like ‘Wouldn’t this wall be much nicer with a carton of oat drink?’ and ‘This piece of art is here to tell you we are here!’ Each mural was complemented by delivery workers arranging objects in front of them, like boxes or vans painted with Oatly’s beverage carton.

We love how this unconventional campaign stepped up to the challenge and transformed ordinary murals into engaging OOH displays, further amplified by social media videos and a ton of online buzz.

Dove’s injectable billboard took a stand against harmful beauty standards

Dove has long been a pioneer in redefining beauty standards, advocating for inclusivity and positivity within the industry. The brand’s recent Injectable Billboard campaign at Toronto’s Square One shopping centre didn’t just catch attention; it made a bold statement against toxic beauty ideals driven by social media and pressure to look perfect.

Using a billboard made of over 50,000 syringes, symbolizing the number of cosmetic injectables used on Canadian girls aged 14 to 17 last year, Dove starkly exposed the pressure young girls face to conform to society’s narrow beauty expectations. The display was a great example of how OOH can be used to address social issues, garnering appreciation from audiences worldwide. It was a beautiful execution with an even more beautiful message.

Days 0.0% beer brand toasted to being alcohol-free

“Dry January” has become more and more popular over the years, with many adults using the new year as an opportunity to abstain from drinking alcohol (especially after all the over-indulging during the holidays)

Launching its Beer for Anyone campaign in the UK last January, 0.0% beer brand Days highlighted the benefits of going alcohol-free. Using relevant and lighthearted creative that appealed to younger audiences, each OOH ad presented Days’ beverages as an option for people who love beer but not alcohol. Taglines included ‘Beer for the person who loves beer, but not drunk texting their ex’ and ‘Beer for the person who loves beer, but keeps googling ‘hangxiety.” We think the brand’s relatable OOH ads definitely poured up some creativity.

Taj Mahal Tea broke a Guinness World Record for the largest environmentally interactive billboard

Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea, a UK-based tea producer under the Lipton brand, achieved a remarkable feat by winning a Guinness World Record for creating the ‘Megh Santoor’ OOH display, now recognized as the largest environmentally interactive billboard in the world.

Located outside the Vijayawada train station in Andhra Pradesh, India, the 150-foot-wide ‘Megh Santoor’ was installed to coincide with India’s monsoon season, spanning from June to September. The billboard responded to rain by activating strings that performed the ‘Raag Megh Malhar,’ a classical Indian music composition traditionally played on a santoor, a stringed instrument, celebrating the arrival of rainfall.

We love how Taj Mahal Tea harmoniously blended nature, technology and tradition in this campaign. It was music to our ears.

Surreal cereal fooled us with celebrity doppelgängers

Sometimes, the most simple ads are the most impactful, and cereal brand Surreal’s latest OOH campaign definitely made us do a double-take. To promote its high-protein, zero-sugar, keto-friendly, plant-based cereal, the brand displayed billboards across the UK that boldly featured endorsements from famous people, only to reveal upon closer inspection that they’re not the celebrities we know. Instead, they’re everyday people like ‘Dwayne Johnson, the bus driver from London.’

In a world full of celebrity endorsements, Surreal’s OOH ads stand out by creating that ‘wait, what?’ moment in a simple yet witty way. We’d totally give this cereal a try.

Dreamdata made a big impact with a small budget (and B2B marketers lost their minds over it)

Budget and attribution conversations? As marketers, we have those A LOT. One marketer from Dreamdata, a B2B revenue attribution platform, sought to prove to the company’s CMO that OOH ads could be just as impactful as online ads, if not more, even though attribution isn’t always as straightforward. 

Rather than spending the advertising budget on online ads, Laura Erdem, Sales Leader at Dreamdata, bought a billboard ad in Times Square without telling anyone. The best part? It only cost $500 (less than a PS5). The now-LinkedIn-viral digital OOH ad ran for one minute every hour for 22 hours, resulting in tons of impressions and sparking conversations among B2B marketers about the role of attribution in offline channels – and how impactful marketing doesn’t have to break the bank.

Netflix’s 3D billboard brought Leo the Lizard to life

Netflix took realistic animation to new heights this year with OOH billboards promoting the release of Leo, its new animated movie starring Adam Sandler. To create buzz for the release, two billboards were erected across a West Hollywood boulevard, bringing the film’s star, Leo the Lizard, to life.

On one side of the boulevard, an OOH ad featured the giant lizard with the tagline ‘Reach for your dreams.’ The installation was complete with a 3D lizard tongue that ran across the street, connecting the billboard with another one that displayed the movie’s title in bold, eye-catching font. The OOH ads were also shared across social media in a series of TikTok videos that helped create excitement for the release. Nice job, Netflix.

Nuud took a stance against plastic in chewing gum

With every piece of traditional chewing gum containing one drinking straw’s worth of single-use plastic, biodegradable gum brand Nuud wanted to encourage consumers to ‘Chew plants, not plastic.’ To do this, the brand ran a series of billboards comparing its plastic-free confectionary to its big gum competitors. 

While the billboards didn’t name other brands outright, each one used recognizable colour schemes and branding that playfully hinted at the targeted companies with taglines like ‘Some gum is made of plastic, Nuud isn’t.’ The campaign was a great example of how brands can leverage OOH to address an industry-wide issue in a witty, engaging way. 

Coca-Cola’s 3D billboard served up ice-cold magic in São Paulo

Coca-Cola turned the heads of travellers passing through Terminal 3 at the Guarulhos Airport in São Paulo this year. As part of its Real Magic campaign, the beverage giant activated a truly magical display featuring Vermeer’s famous Girl with a Pearl Earring art character. 

Using her magic touch, the character transforms a digital Coca-Cola bottle into a real, physical beverage that travels through a funnel and comes out of a nearby vending machine panel, offering a drink to anyone who passes by. The campaign was a great showcase of how technology advancements can bridge the gap between digital and physical worlds to transform the consumer experience. Now, that’s a refreshing take on OOH. 

Audible turned everyday tales into extraordinary adventures 

We’re big believers that our ordinary routines could use a little adventure, wouldn’t you agree? Online audiobook and podcast platform Audible did just that with its This is The Story campaign, activating outdoor ads that promoted three of its most popular audiobook genres: true crime, sci-fi, and fantasy. 

Incorporating elements like 3D artwork, FX, and LED lighting, each billboard featured copy that started out by describing an ordinary activity, like taking a lunch break or driving down the motorway, which then transitioned into an adventurous narrative. This OOH campaign earned its spot on our list by showcasing the medium’s storytelling power. 

It was Barbie’s world

Taking over the number one spot in box offices worldwide, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie was the highest-grossing and most-anticipated cinema moment of 2023. With so much hype surrounding its release, it’s no surprise that its marketing campaign needed to be larger-than-life. And it was. 

Since so many OOH ads and billboards for Barbie appeared across the globe, it would be impossible for us to pick a single standout. Rather, we think the campaign as a whole deserves recognition, as each OOH display transformed ordinary spaces into pink paradises. Its iconic branding became so recognizable that a billboard was displayed with nothing on it except for Barbie pink wrapping and the film’s release date in classic Barbie font. From bus shelters to Times Square takeovers and everything in between, Barbie’s advertising took the world by storm. She was everything. Those other ads were just Ken. 

But we can’t forget about Oppenheimer

Debuting alongside Barbie, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer movie also became a cultural phenomenon this year. In fact, the simultaneous movie releases of both movies were nicknamed Barbenheimer thanks to all the buzz they received among audiences. 

While we think Barbenheimer is pretty awesome, Oppenheimer’s OOH ads deserve their own shoutout – particularly the billboard countdown display activated in Los Angeles, California. At first, many viewers thought the display was counting down to the film’s theatrical release; however, it soon became known that there was a deeper historical meaning behind it all. It was actually counting down to the exact moment of the first explosion of an atomic bomb during the Trinity test on July 16, 1945, which is the main premise of the movie. 

The display was shared all over the internet, with some viewers even waking up at 5 am to document the countdown reaching zero. This is one we won’t forget.

Lego DreamZzz’s 3D billboards bridged the gap between fantasy and reality

Lego’s larger-than-life characters came alive this year with 3D DOOH ads promoting its latest YouTube series, ‘DreamZzz.’ Based on the brand’s classic toys, the DreamZzz series is based on Lego toy characters that bring their dreams to life, encouraging kids to unlock their creativity.

The billboards, activated in London, New York, and Tokyo, leveraged anamorphic technology to create immersive experiences that saw characters Crocodile Car, sidekick Z-Blob, and flying cat-owl Zian break out of the screens. The result? A visually mesmerizing campaign that showed us anything is possible with a little bit of dreaming (and a whole lot of OOH tech advancements). 

KitKat told us to have a break without telling us to have a break

Good branding can say everything without saying anything, and KitKat proved that true with its OOH campaign that ran at The O2 Arena in London. The ads played on the brand’s widely recognized slogan, ‘Have a Break, Have a KitKat’ – except it only featured a third of the original tagline, cutting it down to just five words.

KitKat highlighted just how strong its messaging is, displaying ‘Have a’ in white text on its signature red background, complete with a blinking space bar instead of the word ‘Break.’ They then went a step further by conducting a survey with Wunderman Thompson UK, finding that over half of audiences correctly identified the brand and understood its message. This awesome use of OOH for branding and awareness definitely deserves a KitKat. 

Minute Maid gave us our daily dose of Vitamin D

We get it – keeping up with your daily vitamins can be tough. And if you’re currently living through a Canadian winter like we are, you’ll know that getting enough Vitamin D is perhaps the most challenging of all. This year, Minute Maid Beverages took a creative approach to promoting Vitamin D intake through its Filled with Life campaign featuring billboards that encouraged audiences to take in some of the sunshine vitamin. 

The ads served a dual purpose of promoting the brand’s orange juice while providing a much-needed dose of sunlight to audiences. Its Open Billboard allowed direct sunlight to filter right through it, erasing the shadow cast by the billboard itself, while the Reflective Billboard strategically redirected sunlight down to street level, overcoming obstructions caused by nearby buildings. Finally, the Extended Shelter incorporated a seat positioned to capture sunlight, enabling commuters to bask in its warmth while waiting for the bus. 

Samsung joined the flipside 

Calling the early 2000s – are flip phones making a comeback? Samsung sure thinks so, releasing its new generation of foldable phones, the Galaxy Z Fold5 and the Galaxy Z Flip5. To celebrate, the tech brand ran a series of OOH ads featuring celebrity ambassadors like Raheem Sterling and Fearne Cotton with taglines ‘Nothing unfolds like…’. 

Each ad was complete with a 3D Samsung Galaxy phone unfolding from the billboard, displaying the hashtag #JoinTheFlipSide, strategically highlighting the tech’s unique folding capabilities. We can’t wait to see how these catch on.

Not On The High Street made a bold call against gift waste

Not On The High Street, a UK-based online marketplace, aimed to shed light on the environmental impact of gifting this holiday season with its latest OOH campaign. The campaign called attention to the staggering number of bad Christmas presents that end up in landfills, with over 3,088,345 unwanted gifts discarded this year alone. 

Amid an environmental and cost-of-living crisis, the brand’s 3D billboards emphasized the need to reevaluate gift-giving practices with taglines like ‘Don’t Gift Landfill,’ ‘Don’t Gift Big Biz,’ and ‘Don’t Gift Boring.’ Each ad also promoted the retailer’s ‘Don’t Gift Guide,’ guiding shoppers towards more thoughtful, planet-friendly choices. We love a reminder to be more intentional with our purchases this time of year.

That’s our roundup for this year! Want to learn more about OOH? Contact our team to get started.

Kayla Caticchio
Kayla Caticchio

Content Marketing Manager

Kayla has been a part of Broadsign’s marketing team since 2021, where she specializes in creating content on all things OOH, DOOH, and pDOOH. She spends her free time reading and trying new restaurants.