This Billboard Campaign Just Wants You to Smile More. Can It Possibly Work?

Joy Team project comes to Chicago

Nothing brightens a dreary workday quite like branded optimism from a random nonprofit. Commuters in Chicago who haven't had their spirits crushed will get to see this firsthand, as the Joy Team's pro-happiness billboard comes to the Windy City for the first time. 

"Smile Across America" is a multi-city campaign to ring in the UN's International Day of Happiness by posting phrases like "Something wonderful is about to happen" and "Say YES" on billboards, digital screens in corporate buildings, and so on.

The Joy Team, based in Washington state, believes that doing this lifts commuters' moods … though of course, people who are already pissed off usually don't appreciate reminders of how happy they should be. 

Then again, we're nihilistic East Coasters, so of course we think that.

The Joy Team has anticipated—and already shrugged off—this response, telling the Chicago Tribune that it's "putting [the ads] up for people who will enjoy them and will see them and smile and have a better day." It also said it likes working with billboards because, unlike most other advertising, they can't be turned off, skipped or fast-forwarded, which speaks to an Orwellian sort of happiness that we're not sure we want. 

So, it seems the campaign didn't work on us. Does it work on you? Check out more images from the campaign below, and let us know. 

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