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Now that’s different: A human billboard

Date: October 26, 2015

Summary:
Digital billboards allow advertisers to change their messages regularly, but they've become so commonplace they don't really stand out. What about a billboard that changes its message every few minutes that's not digital?

Body:
Digital billboards allow advertisers to change their messages regularly, but they’ve become so commonplace they don’t really stand out.

What about a billboard that changes its message every few minutes that’s not digital?

That is sure to draw attention, especially when the billboard is actually made up of people who are holding the signs that make up the billboard message.

That was the idea behind a recent campaign in Raleigh, North Carolina, where 63 people stood outside for several hours holding up small squares that, when seen all together, made fun, memorable messages.

What was being promoted
Red Hat, a software provider.

Who was behind the stunt
Baldwin&, a Raleigh-based agency.

Why this stunt                                                    
Red Hat wanted to stand out and make people talk at the All Things Open software conference.

By stressing collaboration, a key component of the open-source movement, the campaign drove home the goals of Red Hat while also getting people’s attention.

“The brief was to communicate how Red Hat collaborates to make amazing things happen. We always believe, ‘Don’t just talk about it, do it.’ Smash cut to 63 human beings standing on a three story billboard holding letters to make headlines,” says David Baldwin, lead guitar at Baldwin&.

Timing                            
The stunt took place on Monday, before and during two one-hour sessions at the conference, which was held at the Raleigh Convention Center.

How it worked
Baldwin& worked with event production company Billups and director Ryan Shelley of Myriad Media in Raleigh to pull off the stunt.

A tiered grid was set up 17 feet above the ground. A group of 63 volunteers (some Red Hat employees among them) sat in three rows. Each person was given 2.5- x 4-foot placards to be held up, forming a 14- x 50-foot board.

The 63 placards together spelled out messages, on a red background, naturally.

The messages all had a grain of humor:

“Behold the power of collaboration! And arm strength.”

“You should see our synchronized swimming routine.”

“We have more to say on collaboration but space is kind of limi”

One of the volunteers live-tweeted the event with the hashtag #PeoplePowered. He put down his sign for a bit, leading to a gaping hole in the live billboard.

The message at that point:  “63 people are doing this together! Okay, 62, but still.”

Why it worked                                                               
The stunt worked for two reasons. First, it was a clever way to self-promote, taking the concept of a billboard and making it more dynamic.

And second, it was funny, eliciting laughs from conference goers and people on social media alike.

How it was received                                                                             
With enthusiasm.

It’s been profiled on several blogs and got a good response on social media, including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

A video about the campaign has received more than 1,000 views on YouTube.

See the YouTube video here.
Read the full article here.


 

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