Live, From Times Square, It’s a Tylenol Billboard

NEW YORK Saatchi & Saatchi has created a living billboard in New York’s Times Square featuring people running on treadmills for Tylenol’s 8-Hour brand. The billboard will operate tomorrow through Sunday as a nod to Sunday’s New York City Marathon.

“[Tylenol 8-Hour] is the official pain reliever of the marathon, so we thought it would be great idea to do something cool for it, a big event kind of thing,” said Lee St. James, svp, group creative director at the New York shop.

The billboard is 25 feet off the ground and features two treadmills, where volunteers from the agency and client, as well as actors, will run in three-hour shifts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The display behind them bears the Tylenol 8-Hour logo on a red background and the copy, “The choice for tough muscle pain. Just ask them,” with an arrow pointing to the runners. During off hours, a sign will say, “Gone running. Back tomorrow.” Other creatives on the account include Eric Silver, evp, group creative director, Muffy Clarkson, svp, group creative director, and copywriters Aaron Adler and Ari Weiss.

“It’s very interruptive in terms of when you notice that motion above your head,” St. James said. “It’s fun to look at.”

Living billboards have garnered attention in recent months. Earlier this year an adidas billboard in Tokyo created by TBWA Japan that featured men playing soccer vertically on tethers drew crowds of commuters.

The 8-Hour billboard goes up as six agencies pitch the estimated $115 million overall Tylenol brand account. Saatchi is defending. The other contenders are IPG’s Alchemy, Deutsch and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, and Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day, all in New York, as well as The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va. Creative pitches began Tuesday and are expected to be completed on Thursday, according to sources.

Tylenol has the Times Square billboard space through December. Though undetermined, future possibilities for the venue include people taking aerobics classes or lifting weights.

“If this is a hit and works, I’d love to see this billboard keep going,” St. James said. “It’s not just about running marathons. It could be about any kind of heavy-duty muscle pain.”