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Embellishments: The Power of Wow

Date: April 02, 2004



 Guest Columnist: Patricia Punch

More and more companies are turning to the excitement, impact and value of adding embellishments to outdoor advertising. As one sign that the economy may be ticking upward, big players like Nike, Coca-Cola, ABSOLUT VODKA, Disney and the BMW MINI Cooper are going in for big effects.


Spectaculars started taking off about 15 years ago. Today, you can walk down the streets of New York City and be immersed in the colorful action of 3-D billboards and electronically enhanced examples of spectacular outdoor advertising. Currently, there are more than 30 such Times Square monuments and the number keeps growing.


But spectaculars are no longer just a big city thing. Smaller markets are recognizing what spectaculars can do in their communities. Small markets provide a greater impact opportunity because it’s so unexpected.


The true value of spectaculars is the wow factor. The slogan at Atomic Props & Effects (“Beyond Wow!”) speaks to how the viewer should not only say wow, but experience it, feel it, remember it and act on it.


Spectaculars get noticed and create a buzz that builds a reputation. For example, the ABSOLUT ALTERNATIVE billboard in Los Angeles, powered by solar panels, received positive press. The billboard “salutes the efforts Californians have made in energy conservation,” says Jim Schleifer, ABSOLUT’s director of marketing.


Trends to Watch


Reveals. Toyota, Fiskers and a number of cable networks have had excellent success developing series that change over time to reveal the final message.


Integrating Technology. Features like lighting, LED screens, smoke and kinetic effects are getting big results.


Image Turned Icon. Companies are building their efforts into their brand image. JVC’s electronic globe was used on its holiday cards and annual report. A neon Yahoo! billboard became part of its playful identity.


Money Matters. Savvy clients are budgeting for one or two super creative boards along with their traditional ones. It’s all about getting the most bang for your buck.


Building from the Ground Up. Commercial building owners make good money renting sign space, so architects are incorporating that into building design. The result: more room for real creativity in outdoor advertising.


Patricia Punch is the vice president of Atomic Props & Effects. The St. Paul, MN, firm has more than 20 years experience designing and fabricating custom props, billboards and spectaculars


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