For His Dark Materials, BBC Creative Made a Lifelike Billboard That Breathes Steam

A subtle way to make outdoor more compelling

A billboard ad for His Dark Materials shows protagonist Lyra and an armored polar bear who appears to breathe
The 3D billboard for His Dark Materials emits steam to simulate the polar bear's breath.
BBC Creative

When it comes to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, things have always been a bit different in the U.S. and the U.K. Here in the States, we know the first book as The Golden Compass, while in his native Britain it was published as Northern Lights.

Similarly, the new show based on the novels is being broadcast differently on either side of the Atlantic. In America, it’s on HBO, where it premiered this week to relatively strong ratings, marking the premium network’s biggest debut since Chernobyl.

But the TV adaptation of His Dark Materials was actually commissioned for BBC One, where British audiences can now watch it, along with on the BBC’s iPlayer streaming service.

To promote the ambitious show’s launch, BBC Creative found a subtly clever way to bring it to life through outdoor advertising.

In a billboard positioned outside Westfield Shopping Centre in London’s White City, protagonist Lyra stands alongside armored polar bear Iorek Byrnison, who appears to be breathing amid the Arctic cold as steam comes from his mouth in the ad:

A billboard ad for His Dark Materials shows protagonist Lyra and an armored polar bear who appears to breathe
BBC Creative

“Our creative ambition for His Dark Materials was as epic as the show itself,” says Olly Harnett, creative head at BBC Creative. “We positioned the series as a mainstream blockbuster with broad family appeal in a 360 campaign, which included groundbreaking special-build OOH and a rich interactive game on social awarding the user their own personal ‘daemon.'”

The billboard brings believable depth to one of the series’ more famously fantastic elements: a race of talking warrior polar bears called panserbjørne.

“His Dark Materials is one of the most ambitious drama series we’ve ever commissioned for BBC One and iPlayer, and we wanted our marketing to reflect those cinematic credentials,” says Chris Hooper, head of marketing for BBC One. “We asked BBC Creative to deliver an epic campaign that immersed audiences into Lyra’s worlds, and we’re really thrilled with how this has come to life.”

CREDITS:

BBC Creative:
ECD: Laurent Simon
Head of Planning: Mike Lean
Head of Production: James Wood
Creative Director: Olly Harnett
Creatives: Mat Rees, James Fairfield, Hannah White
Audio: Dominic Ross
Pictures: Catherine Yang
Producer: Jenny Broad
Project Manager: Carly Mountford
Planner: Jeremy Thorpe-Woods
Digital / Social: Ashley Temple
Head of Design: Laurence Honderick
Design: Johnny Ace, Geraint Williams, Janina Petrylaite and Will Jarvis
Editor: Dominic Lea

BBC:
Head of Marketing: Chris Hooper
Marketing Manager: Harriet Gunning
Marketing: Smriti Sharma

BBC Media Planning:
Media Portfolio Lead: Hannah North
Campaign Planner: Sam Hartford

Media:
Havas Media
Talon Outdoor

Sound: Lewis Clark
Postproduction: Paul Callaghan

Recommended articles