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Ambient Overload

A look at some new and unusual ad placement
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Look around and you might think there’s no space money can’t buy. Spending on ambient advertising, which includes often mundane, sometimes odd out-of-home media like pizza boxes and movie tickets, grew an estimated 6 percent in 2011 to $630 million, per PQ Media. Creatives scrambling to cut through the clutter have gotten increasingly inventive. “Forms of media [that physically make people stop and look up] are more powerful than ever because everything else has been diluted,” said Roald van Wyk, group creative director at Draftfcb New York. “If you can make it interesting or put a smile on people’s face, it’s more rewarding.” Here’s a look at some unusual ads of late that amused, annoyed or grossed us out. 

Bowling Balls
Decapitated heads

Bowling isn’t lame. It’s thrilling,  especially when you find yourself throwing strikes with a detailed facsimile of a bloody human head. Agency Jung von Matt for horror-themed TV channel 13th Street, in Germany.


Metro Ceiling
Mirror bald of shame

Hey, you there: middle-aged guy with the paunch. Feeling self-conscious about losing your hair? No? How about when everyone around you is staring at it? Now, will you pay to fix it? Agency Rethink for Panorama Hair, in Canada.

Bike Wheels
Green Lantern light show

Create buzz for your movie launch with flashy LED bicycle spokes. Bonus: This superhero promotion keeps riders safe by making it easier for drivers to see them in the dark. Agency Lorem.nu for Warner Bros., in Brazil.

Your House
Agency calling card

Sure, you’ll annoy your neighbors and probably drive down property values. But if you’re having trouble with the mortgage, this marketing firm will pay you to turn your home’s exterior into a garish billboard promoting its services. Agency Brainiacs From Mars for itself, in California.

Brick Wall
Caribbean wormhole

Climb through the side of this New York building—and the space-time continuum—to get away from a cityscape long overrun by dull marketing messages into a more natural, relaxing environment. Agency Draftfcb New York for Jamaica Tourist Board, in New York.

Your Thigh
Short shorts imprint

So what if it’s totally obtrusive, ineffectual and illegible? Literally brand your target consumers with specially designed benches that leave imprints about, say, a short shorts sale on their legs after they’ve been sitting. Agency DDB Auckland for Superette, in New Zealand.