Monthly Archives: February 2014

Road Safety: Bleeding Billboard

Billboards are a common form of advertisement and are designed to catch your attention and create an impression very quickly. Billboards aim to leave the consumer thinking about the advert, even seeing it, so the adverts need to be quickly readable, eye-catching and simple. Unlike TV adverts, billboards are exposed 24 hours a day, which can create brand awareness and strong name recognition.

In Papakura, New Zealand, a billboard was created over the Easter holidays to promote a safe driving campaign. In previous years a large number of fatal accidents had occurred, especially in rainy driving conditions. The billboard featured the message ‘Rain changes everything. Please drive to the conditions’.


(Please note I do not own/nor claim to own these images)

However, this advert is very different to your typical billboard. The board features a young boy’s face and when it rains blood comes out from the child’s face. The campaign used the shock and fear factor to get the message across to drive safely and the use of a child creates maximum impact. Dahl, Frakenberger & Manchanda (2003) found that an advert that uses shocking content will increase attention, have a greater impact on memory and overall promote positive behaviour.


The location of the billboard, allowed the campaign to target the specific, intended audience and the message was frequently and continuously being delivered. So, was the billboard effective? Since it was created, there has been a 0% death rate in Papakura during the Easter holidays. Thornton, Rossiter & White (2000) found that the most effective anti-speeding adverts were ones that used a high level of fear and this resulted in more people driving under the speed limit.

Overall, billboards can be an extremely effective method of portraying a message and although the ‘bleeding billboard’ could be seen as disturbing and upsetting, it helped saved people’s lives.



Dahl, D.W., Frakenberger, K.D., & Manchanda, R.V. (2003). Does it pay to shock? Reactions to shocking and nonshocking advertising content among university students. Journal of Advertising Research, 43(3), 268-280.

Thornton, J., Rossiter, J., & White, L. (2000). The persuasive effectiveness of varying levels of fear appeals: An anti-speeding advertising experiment. The Australasian Marketing Journal, 1278-1283.


Guinness “Twins”

This inspiring advert, part of the Guinness ‘Made of More’ campaign, features the Barnes Twins and lets you be part of their Sochi Olympic Games Story. Both sisters are US bi-athletes, competing for their last games. Tracey Barnes qualified but her twin Lanny became ill and could not compete to qualify. The advert unfolds to show Tracey giving up her place for her sister. This advert is heart-warming, touching and most importantly a true story.

The advert is simple, using a black and white image of the sisters as the background, yet it is powerful. The story unfolds by using repeated text, emphasising the bond between the twins. The mood is set with the moving music, designed to make you connect to their story. The Guinness logo is not shown until the end of the advert, with the aim of the consumer aligning the inspirational story to the representation of the Guinness brand.

However, due to the US Olympic Committee rules, the advert could only be shown for a single day. The advert was not allowed on TV slots, billboards or online advertisements due to featuring Team USA members and the Guinness brand not being an official sponsor of the games (Budweiser was the official sponsor).

Emotion provoking adverts have been linked to enhanced memory and judgement (Friestad and Thorson, 1986). Emotional messages create stronger memory and more positive judgements, which could increase the sales of the campaign.

Although the advert was shown for a brief amount of time, it is still a powerful advert. The official sponsors of the Games have used the rules and regulations to eliminate competition and to make money. The irony is that the Guinness Twin advert highlights an act of selflessness and this captures what the Olympic spirit is all really all about.



Friestad, M., & Thorson, E. (1986). Emotion-Eliciting Advertising: Effects on Long Term Memory and Judgement. Advances in Consumer Research, 13(1), 111-116.

Google Chrome: Dear Sophie – Emotion better than humour?

Dear Sophie was part of the Google campaign “The web is what you make of it” and it consists of a father using Google products to create a 21st century electronic scrapbook for his daughter to see when she is older. This inspiring advert sets the emotional mood by showing Sophie’s biggest life moments so far, such as the day she was born and the arrival of a new sibling.

(Please not that I do not own/nor claim to own this video)

The emotional mood is enhanced by the uplifting background music of a piano and violin, capturing the target audience of young fathers and families. The simple, although hugely emotion-oriented, advert lets you feel as though you are being let into the developing story of Sophie.

What worked? The advert aimed to motivate the use of Google products, such as Google Chrome, Gmail, YouTube and Picasa. The advert cleverly introduces a number of these products throughout the video, without harsh promotion that would otherwise detract from the emotional story. The written language in the emails is emotion provoking and catalogues the ‘big moments’ in Sophie’s life, many of which parents could relate to.

The advert was clearly effective, as public comments under the YouTube video of the advert showed parents were creating their own electronic scrapbooks using Google software, even though users found that they could only create a Google account for their children aged 13 and above, in line with Google’s policy. This limitation, however, did not put people off from finding a way round this issue and continuing to use Google to create their electronic scrapbooks.

The effectiveness of the advert was in the use of an interactive tour of Google, highlighting the ease of use, even for busy parents. This inspiring and heart-warming advert suggests that emotion, not humour, can bring people closer and positively associate with a brand.

Honda Cog – A creative success advertising story

The ‘Honda Cog’ advert used car components to create a chain reaction, resulting in the new Honda ‘Accord’ car being revealed. Minimal computer-generated imagery was used, the advert was manually created, with the aim of it generating more appeal to the target audience. The advert was launched onto television at time slots to target males, car lovers and families, with the advert being commonly shown during high profile sporting events. The ‘Honda Cog’ was hugely successful both financially and influentially. So what worked?

(Please note that I do not own/nor claim to own this video)

The adverts success included the interactive, attention-capturing nature. You are eased into the sale through the progression of the domino-like sequence, with subtle hints of the cars new features and technological advances, until the end when the car is unveiled. The seamless link between the interactions of car parts makes it fascinating to watch for all ages.

At the time it was made, this advert was classed as unique, it did not conform to the advertising style at the time it was produced and the campaign was led. This generated interest and other car companies later used this interactive technique. The advert was very successful, with 10,000 people requesting a brochure after watching the advert. There was also high demand for DVD copies.

However, the advert does have its weaknesses. The ‘Honda Cog’ advert cost £1 million to produce, a lot of money to spend, especially when it was part of a series of two other adverts in a £6 million campaign. The advert was also very time-consuming to make, with 7 months production and 606 takes.

Overall, the ‘Honda cog’ was highly influential. Personally, from someone who is not an avid car fan, I watched the full 2 minute advert and it captured my interest and attention throughout. Honda as a company were trying to use the advert as a reflection of their cars, showing the high build quality and reliability.