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Finding Print Inspiration from Popular Billboards 

August 11, 2022 In Design,Inspiration

When someone mentions the word “advertising,” a billboard may be one of the first images that comes to mind. These large prints are among the most eye-catching of an advertisement, because they’re strategically placed to sit in your line of sight. Thanks to their large size, billboards can also make a big statement, and their messages tend to be very memorable. According to a recent Harris Poll, 83% of US consumers report that they notice billboards while driving. 

As more consumers returned to the roads this summer, brands have been getting especially creative with the billboards to catch attention. Let’s explore a few inspirational billboard designs together and consider the ways your businesses can apply the same principles in your own everyday print marketing campaigns.  

Use Humor Effectively 

When done well, messages that make people laugh tend to make a positive, long-lasting impression. Think about advertising’s biggest night of the year: the Super Bowl. The most talked-about commercials each year usually take a humorous approach, and billboards are no different. A new report from Oracle found 90 percent of people are more likely to remember ads that are funny, and 72 percent will choose a funny brand over the competition.  

Netflix has recently perfected this approach with their branded marquee billboard located in Los Angeles. Over the past few months, Netflix has posted a variety of messages on the billboard, offering subtle, funny references to their new releases or their overall brand. For example, the billboard’s first quote, “Don’t give up on your dreams. We started with DVDs,” quickly went viral on social media thanks to its use of light, self-effacing humor. This strategy can also be effective on any form of print marketing. Having some fun with your materials will quickly grab your audience’s attention and hopefully lead them to talk about your brand with their friends.  

Make Location-Specific References 

Some billboard advertisers know that one of the biggest advantages of this form of advertising is its location. Consumers typically only see a billboard when they are physically very close to it, and often when they are driving in the car. Brands can use this proximity to their benefit by promoting their nearby store and potentially swaying customers to stop in on the spot. In a particularly creative use of billboard location, online car retailer CarDoor chose to promote their platform on billboards that are situated near auto repair shops. With this strategy, CarDoor is hoping frustrated drivers with broken-down cars will see their brand’s message and choose to purchase a new vehicle using their service. 

Direct mail marketing can provide similar, location-specific benefits. Though direct mail pieces aren’t displayed in the public, they do physically reach consumers in their homes. Businesses can select their mail recipients by location to reach people who live near their store, or who live in an area that has a heightened need for this product or service. When consumers open their mail and see a compelling offer for a business just around the corner, they’ll be more likely to follow through and make a purchase. Data from Foursquare recently revealed 9 in 10 marketers saw higher sales after utilizing location-based marketing tactics. 

Poke Fun at Competitors 

In case you missed the news on social media, several Utah cookie brands have been engaged in a trademark war. One of the brands involved, Dirty Dough, recently came out with a new marketing campaign involving billboards that feature clever phrases like “Cookies so good we’re being sued,” and “Our cookies don’t crumble with competition.” Instead of shirking away from controversy, Dirty Dough capitalized on the buzz surrounding their brand and took back control of the narrative.  

Hopefully the battle with your own competitors has not escalated to a lawsuit. However, this strategy can still be effective for any business hoping to shake up their print marketing campaigns. Poking fun at your competitors, or even at your own business, can make your brand appear confident and secure. Just be sure to keep it light-hearted and playful and avoid bad-mouthing the competition. 

Add Interactive Elements 

We’ve talked a lot about how to make a lasting impression on your audience, but we would argue the most memorable print materials are those that actively involve the consumers. If someone can’t engage with a piece at all, they’ll simply skim over it and move on, forgetting your message instantly. Though billboards tend to be a one-way form of communication, McDonald’s has discovered a way to create more audience interaction. In London, the brand created a “drive-thru” billboard that distributed free McFlurries. They’ve also used billboards to point out recycling receptacles for used McDonald’s packaging or display the real-time temperature, encouraging people to stop for a beverage.  

Some other print materials, such as catalogs and mailers, are simply more interactive by nature. Consumers must physically pick up the print or flip through the pages, which provides more engagement than viewing an email on a screen, for instance. You might also consider adding other elements to these prints to further involve the consumer. For example, you can include a QR code in the design to lead your audience to a landing page with more information about your business or add a coupon they must tear off and present in person to redeem.  

While QR codes have become commonplace in many businesses, augmented reality prints are still an under-utilized option. Like QR codes, consumers will use their phones to bring augmented reality pieces to life. However, this technology can provide an even more interactive experience with animations projected on to the physical print, giving consumers a unique and memorable brand experience. If you need help getting started with an engaging print campaign, send us a message and one of our experts will be happy to help you.