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7 Ridiculously Clever Ways to Advertise

Reading Time:5 mins October 18, 2013

There are two kinds of advertisements: ads that blend in, and ads that captivate our attention. I’ll be taking this opportunity to focus on the latter category.

These are the head-turners that leave us with an unexpected smile. They’re the ads we don’t see every day, and the ones we applaud for their raw creativity and clever execution.

So take a gander at some of the best advertising methods I’ve come across, and add your thoughts at the end if I’ve missed anything noteworthy.

Superette’s Bench Imprint Advertising

Who likes short shorts? Well, obviously anyone walking around with a sale imprinted on their thighs. New Zealand clothing outlet Superette has pursued a unique new marketing campaign, installing embossed metal plates on public benches to leave their mark on their target market (see what I did there?).

It’s a whole new kind of guerilla advertising that harnesses subjects’ bodies to leave branding behind. What makes it unique is that it’s passive and covert – unlike a branded tattoo or t-shirt.

And although not every sitter’s legs will bare legible ads, they’ll often investigate the cold metal plates beneath their bottoms when they plop down on these marked benches.

Adobe’s Real-time Photoshop at a Bus Stop

It’s amazing what you can do with a big monitor, a camera and a faux delivery van.

Adobe harnessed the skills of Photoshop wiz Erik Johansson to create on-the-spot art out of folks waiting at a bus stop. As pedestrians entered the awning, the artist would snap some photos and throw them into a visual collage, all while offering a live display of the work in progress.

Now there’s a little surprise that people are going to tell their friends about.

Bottoms Up’s Beer Magnets

What better place to advertise than the bottom of the cup? The Bottoms Up system is a new method of “pouring” beer drafts in which the beer fills from the bottom of the receptacle. Once the fill is finished, a magnet pops down to the metal-rimmed hole to seal the filling gap.

But the smartest part of this system is the way they use those magnets to their advantage. Advertising and custom printing are offered to get brand names in front of bar patrons and stadium attendees as they tip beers back.

The folks at Bottoms Up say it best, touting the magnets as “putting advertisements six inches from your customers’ eyeballs all night long”. And the fact that curious beer drinkers can pluck the magnets out to take with them makes this tactic that much more effective.

The 100 Dollar Bill Business Card

This one’s a classic now, but I feel it still warrants mentioning. I was fooled the first time I stumbled across one of these, and admittedly I’ve picked them up several times since. The dollar bill business card is a little spot of genius, and perhaps the easiest tactic to accomplish on this list.

Simply put, everybody loves money. And when we see money on the ground, we’re always going to pick it up. And if that trick money has your business’s info on it, there’s one more person whose head is ringing with your name.

LG’s Ultra-HD TV Prank

They say moments of extreme fear are the most memorable, and this masterful installation served to scare the hell out of its victims accordingly.

LG’s team chiseled away the back wall of an executive’s office to insert one of their new Ultra-HD TVs and simulate a real window. After inviting supposed job seekers in for interviews, the calm city scene on the screen was cut short by dark skies as a fiery meteor collided with the cityscape.

This initiated a variety of terrified reactions and resulted in a hilarious video when all was said and done. Now it has over a million and a half views, and three shaken interviewees who won’t soon forget the remarkable clarity of an LG television.

Folgers’ Coffee Cup Sewer Grate

Witty, innovative and conspicuous, this street-side Folgers advertisement is a surprising graphic to stumble over (literally). These little gems were placed over several NYC manhole covers back in 2006, and it’s hard to believe that nobody had thought of this before.

And while I’ll guarantee that sewage steam smells nothing like a fresh cup of Folgers, it’s a damned smart way to catch the attention of passersby.

3m’s Security Glass Installation

Here’s another attention-grabber that’s a testament to their sturdy product. 3M filled a bus shelter advertisement with a supposed 3 million dollars, guarded between only two panes of their protective material.

Then they left it there for a while. A big block of money is naturally quite the draw for onlookers, and it seems there were several attempts made to bust the cash out. It’s a new take on the dollar appeal that has some serious audacity, sending a simple but clever message to its customers.

Of course, these are only a few of the brilliant advertising approaches I’ve come across. Share more impressive ads you’ve found in the comments below.

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