The 43 Best Advertising Billboards of all Time

The 43 best advertising billboards of all time include those that have catapulted sales for a company and attracted the attention of the public with a social awareness campaign.

Because of the different reasons outdoor billboards are used for, what works to sell a product will not be suitable for a social media message. These ad campaigns have to be designed individually and meet the goals of the advertisers.

  1. It is considered by many that the largest would be the best. The largest ever outdoor billboard was in Madrid. The 56,682 sq ft sign hung on the side of a hotel and advertised the Ford Ecosport utility vehicle. Its eminence size was measured to be larger than 20 tennis courts and is now recognized as a Guinness world record as the largest billboard ever.

  1. For many organizations a noticeable increase in sales are true indicators of the outdoor billboard’s In 2017 Toyota posted an interactive billboard in Time Square, New York City that people could actually climb up like a rock climbing wall. The theme was ‘How far will you take it’. The records show an increase in sales of the Toyota Hybrid vehicle in 2017 over 2016 sales. Ironically a majority of the media exposure on this billboard was on social media on the internet.

  1. There are many in our society that consider the environment as the top priority and is why the popularity of the Swedish billboard made a splash with the public with its birdfeeder billboard. This outdoor billboard was branding a giant Swedish engineer firm with the theme ‘engineering for life’. In the middle of the hands depicted on the billboard are 8 bird feeders so our feathered friends could interact with this advertisement and get a bite to eat.

  1. For the Austrian motorway rest stop ‘Oldtimer’ the best approach is to grab the attention of the viewer in a unique way. Since they are in the business of selling food and other consumables, the most effective would be an ad campaign that involved a person’s mouth. By placing an open woman’s mouth on the side of a mountain at a tunnel’s entrance an unforgettable sight is made that is really memorable.

  1. The offer of a free items is always a good way to get the attention of the public when using the mass media approach with Out-of-Home advertising. Reebok tried this approach successfully in Stockholm last year. By a person passing in front of the advertising sign at more than 10 mph they would be rewarded a new pair of Reebok ZPump 2.0 running shoes. This was made possible by the sign having a speed sensor installed in it that interacted with the public.

  1. To grab the attention of the public the use of an out of the ordinary shaped billboard can be effective. The state of Colorado took this approach back in 2011 in their public service message to reduce accidents in the highways. By introducing a 3-D sign that anyone glancing at it as they pass by will get the message about the dangers of tailgating.

  1. Pond’s facial cream used a unique way to grab the attention of the public by actually using the sign to partially cover up of the face in this ad campaign. By using the sign itself to cover a lady’s face is one way to cover-up pimples or you can use their cream to clean your pores. This ad campaign is simple yet effective.

  1. Sometimes less is better. This is where the use of well known images along with most of the billboard being blank is effective like this McDonalds advertisement on an outdoor billboard. For those who view it that are even a little hungry, this type of ad can make them instinctively be looking for the closest restaurant.

  1. The bigger companies in the world have the money and time to establish their brand. Just like an image of a Big Mac reminders the viewer of McDonalds, the iconic bottle’s shape used by Coca Cola reminds people of their refreshing selection of drinks. Once a product is branded like Coca Cola is, the image is more powerful than the words used on the billboard. It also takes less time to be absorbed by the public.

  1. Another great advertising campaign from the state of Colorado to attract the attention of the public was their use of misspelled words. With the phrase being common, the misspelling of the words causes interaction with the minds of the viewers who instinctive correct the message. This gets people to remember it.

  1. A simple yet effective way of attracting attention is with a normal ad with one variable out of the ordinary. This advertisement by Jeep for their Grand Cherokee is a cleaver billboard approach. With the simple tilting of the entire sign, it grabs a viewer’s attention while giving the impression the vehicle is meant to be climbing mountains.

  1. Another simple but highly effective public service message is this one from Australia to help reduce alcoholic related accidents and deaths. This advertisement uses simple but unusual words of ‘Drink Driving end here’ with a set of tire tracks that head from the road to the sign on a wall that drives the point across to all that view it. This way the advertisement includes not only the sign, but the area in front of the sign that people will walk on and take notice.

  1. The unusual is a very effective tool for advertisers to use in getting their message across. The view of a race car out of control on the side of a building as with this car in 3-D is very effective. The image draws attention to itself and has the public not only remembering the advertisement, but getting them talking about it.

  1. Being creative and simple is a very effective path to get the public to notice what is being advertised. This ad by Guinness is simple and causes the viewer to think about the blank spaces. Gu___ess who? Is really easy to fill in the blanks especially with their logo visible in the bottom right corner of the advertisement.

  1. Getting attention is the point of advertising where some make it simple while others take the absurd approach to being remembered. This Out-of-Home advertisements uses the make believe but popular Zombie craze in their approach to selling their products by this Ace Hardware store in Westlake. The point is they are getting noticed which can drive up sales and increase their profits. That is the point of mass media advertising.

  1. The use of outdoor billboards to send safety messages to the public is very common, so the approach has to be unique like this one from the Lemz advertising agency in the Netherlands. By showing what adults will see as compared to what a small child will view with their limited exposure to items including dangerous chemicals, will help to remind parents it is their responsibility to protect their children from these hazards. This public safety message is meant to save lives by reducing accidents involving household chemicals.

  1. Pedigree dog food advertisement took a simple approach with their advertisement while still providing something for free. This ad with a bright yellow background and a free blue bag for what a dog leaves behind in public is a great way to get noticed and remembered in a positive fashion. This also helps to keep the streets and sidewalks clean for all of us to use.

  1. One fact is true is that Sex sells when it comes to advertising. This ad for Snickers candy bar uses the possibility of sex to get their point across that by the consuming of a simple snack will then help a person to be able to concentrate on their objective instead of their hunger pains. The sexy picture is just to attract the viewer’s attention, but the boxing gloves get the point across of a hungry person being all thumbs.

  1. Another use of sex in a misleading way was recently done by the state of Texas to attract tourists to their state. The simple message is ‘Visit Texas and Explore all it’s wide open spaces’. The message is simple and the background image is a flat prairie where cattle will graze. What attracts the attention of those passing by is the image of a lady’s rear in very small white shorts. A subliminal message will be inferred by the image in the forefront by many and it is not the wide open prairie.

  1. Making a strong point with the product is an effective advertising tool. This one created by Euro RSCG is for the art supply store of Penline out of Malaysia emphasis the use of strong tape. This graphic design of the tape holding up the outdoor billboard on the side of the building is simple yet very effective in getting their point across to the public.

  1. To no one’s surprise the digital world and those that make their products also advertise on outdoor billboards in the real world. One of them is Apple which advertises their iPod and iTunes which emphasis just how much can be crammed into such a little device. Not only is this on a billboard, but they also place it out on social media sources like Pinterest for the world to view. This approach is effective in attracting attention of people in the real world and those in the digital one.

  1. IKEA is very famous for their furniture. In their JOY campaign developed by Zig advertising agency a 3-D display using their furniture to spell out the word JOY is effective in advertising their products. There is also the subliminal message of this furniture will bring joy to your life.

  1. By not limiting yourself to only using the space on the outdoor billboard opens more possibilities to get the attention of those that are passing by. By using the base of the billboard structure with an easy to recognize image, the message being sent can be very clear and effective as this message that is in place where a plan is available to help people that want to quit the smoking habit.

  1. Sometimes a simple approach does work best as shown in this 3-D Heineken billboard. With just the appearance of a hand behind a green film is about to grab the bottle, viewers can almost taste the beer.

  1. Because of how creative the private sector is in their advertising, the public service messages have been forced to do the same. To help emphasize the need to wear a seat belt no matter where a passenger is located in a vehicle is the depiction of a back seated passenger where the seat is attached to a slingshot. You can almost feel the person being catapulted forward.

  1. While this one is not a billboard, it is still an Out-of-Home advertisement that is really effective. By painting this park bench in resemblance to a Kit Kat bar partially unwrapped, the chocolate goodness can nearly be tasted.

  1. One of the most recognized businesses in the world is McDonalds. Their ads are so effective and the business has been branded so well they only need to show their products and you know who they are talking about like this pot of coffee street light.

  1. Here is another one by McDonalds that vaguely depicts their logo, but the world knows exactly who this billboard represents. This is a great example of subliminal message that works.

  1. For some companies that are very well known just the image of their product is enough for the public to recognize what the billboard is advertising. This Lego billboard is a great example of that type of advertising.

  1. With just a few seconds to catch the attention of the public as they pass by a billboard, many advertisers are using a 3-D image and the product to get their message across. This message from Imodium with an empty roll of bathroom tissue is very clear and understood in about 2 seconds.

  1. Making a statement with just an image is possible for branded products like Coca Cola. With a simple cartoon character of a giraffe, the new longer and slimmer Coke can is shown off to the public in an effective manner.

  1. Graphic illustrations are an effective way for advertisers to get their message across. In this ad Tabasco (spelled differently because English is not the main language in this country) is shown to be so hot that is burns through the billboard. This is an effective and simple approach.

  1. There are not many companies that can advertise with just an empty box and still get their point across. The delivery service company DHL is one of the few that can mainly because their box is not only bright yellow, but their service is used by millions each day.

  1. The use of two billboards to connect two different products is a rather unique way to advertise like this for lip stick and a cold refreshing Coca Cola. The straw connects the lips of the model with the bottle of Coke below tagging the two together. Another example of simple but effective advertising.

  1. In a dramatic set of illustrations this combination set of two billboards for the Chilled Mars candy bar has to two billboards connected with the frozen tongue of a man. This exaggeration is another great example on how to use adverting to your own advantage.

  1. Interactive outdoor billboards are relatively new and an effective way to get the attention of the public. This one by the publication The Economist has the light bulb going on when someone passes by it. They are trying to give the public the impression their publication help people get new ideas.

  1. The map by Amstel Beer shows a person where their product is available that is close by and asked the question why are you were it is not available. This is a unique and effective marketing tool that increases sales.

  1. Not all billboards are equal or rectangular as this one for Adidas foot wear proves. This larger than life image of a goalie stopping the ball is truly a memorable advertisement.

  1. This outdoor billboard by Cadbury is another one that just makes people crave for a creamy milk chocolate bar. This 3-D billboard does get the attention by those passing by and is remembered when a person is in the grocery or covenant store and a Cadbury bar is within reach.

  1. Another way to use two billboards to get your message across is like what Nike did in their ‘Power and Motion’ campaign with a runner plowing through a building then appearing on the next building.

  1. Cingular cell phone service provider used dramatics to get their point across. This two part billboard is so popular people stop by and they are take selfies with it.

  1. This one goes under the title When a Mini is a Giant This advertisement turns a building into a parking garage with ready to drive Mini Coopers.

  1. A new concept by Hot Wheels literally puts a new spin on the shape of a billboard. This one brings back memories of youth for most boys and the little race track with the loops.

These are some of the most successful and popular advertisements in the past few years. As depicted, some are simple while other are extravagant, but all are effective.

Best Locations for Billboards

48% of the Billboards seen by drivers on roads in the UK are actually read by them.  The rate is higher for young drivers under the age of 35. By using this as a benchmark for advertising with this approach to a mass media campaign, the ads should be targeting the younger generation. The first thing is to place the billboards where the younger generation frequent.

Where Young Driver Go

The younger generations are still establishing themselves financially so location to catch their eyes would be the medium to low cost range of entertainment options. This generation is also use to instant service so placing billboards around fast food restaurants and convenient stores is an ideal place to get their attention.

Another place of high traffic for the younger generation is locations of higher learning. This includes the campuses of college, universities and technical schools.  These ads will be seen by drivers along with those on bicycles and walking.

Helping Drivers see the Billboards

Visibility is the key to having the advertisements on billboards read. By locating them in or near the line of sight for drivers is key to being successful.  By having the bottom of the signs 3 to 10 feet off the ground, the drivers do not have to move their heads too much to see and quickly read the messages that are posted.

In the past some outdoor billboards business have suggested the higher the sign, the more people can see them from a farther distance. This does have some good logic behind it, but in reality it just does not work. Billboards on top of tall buildings are just too hard to read up close and not large enough to be read at a distance.

One item that has to be remembered is to have the area around the billboard clear of trees. This way the billboard can be seen and read. Remember small trees will grow in time and can obscure the sign from the drivers.

Where Professionals can be Found

The professionals frequent the roadways to and from their place of employment. The highest concentrations of them are on all the major roads and highways in metropolitan areas during rush hours.

Most commuters between their places of employment are either sleepy or tired. Because of this making the outdoor billboards easy to read is essential to getting the message out. On regular roads, the bottom of the sing should be 3 to 10 feet off the ground is best. On highways just above the sight line of a driver, but at an angle so as the drivers approaches it they can easily read it.

Miscellaneous Places Billboards are Effective

Other location where there is a constant flow of travelers includes the major public transportation sites. This includes the bus and train terminals and places pedestrians can go underground and get on the subway. Near these location groups of people will be waiting and many times bored.

Bored people are the best receptors of a message on an outdoor billboard. These people are looking to entertain themselves while they are waiting.  Reading the nearby billboards can help occupy their time while they are just sitting. By having billboards in these location, the message will be read frequently and the ad campaign will be effective.

Using Outdoor Billboards Effectively

An eye catching billboard can transform a company nearly overnight into a success. This is accomplished with both words and images that capture the imagination of those that see it.  Just like in this sign the word CRAZY in red letters is an eye catcher.

Another path is to entice the taste buds, which can help those that see it become or recognize they are hungry as this one with an order of French fries.

The use of an LED outdoor billboard offers more options like this one that is counting down to the start of baseball season.

There are also advertising campaigns on outdoor billboards where less is better like this simple message on a white background.

For businesses that advertise on freeways, the exit number where the business is located is essential to attracting customers like this restaurant is doing.

Simple bold statements advertising high discounts are always attractive to the consumer.

The use of outdoor billboards to send out a simple message is most cost effective mass media outlet an organization can use to reach the most potential clients and customers.

Many times a simple, but dramatic contrast will work like the fear elephants have for mice that is overcome by smashing one like this sign shows.

An absurd message is also very good at gather attention and like this one establishing a brand for the organization by desiring ugly houses.

One of the oldest, but most appealing approaches used to get the message across is sex appeal. This path always gathers attentions with results.

On a hot day the advertising of a cool drink like this slushy from Sonic with the simple image and the straw protruding is very enticing to those who see it.

Advertising on outdoor billboards are not just limited to the billboard as this ad proves by decorating the post.

Both large and small business use outdoor billboards as part of their advertising campaign. This includes the largest fast food restaurant in the world, McDonald’s.

These are just a few great examples of how businesses are using outdoor billboards to promote their business and increase their sales. There is a billboard out there waiting for your message so the public will see it, but requires you to take that first step and use one.

The Right Message on 3 Outdoor Billboards

In the movies and real life 3 billboards seem to be the correct number to get a simple message out that people will remember. With the right message or questions to get people talking is what is necessary for this type of campaign to be successful.

The use of outdoor billboards to help increase the public knowledge of your business is one of the most cost effective means available. Depending on the size of the city or metropolitan area, hundreds to thousands will see your billboard each and every day.

The Message

This path of getting your message out to the public is considered mass marketing. To be most effective a broad message to entice more of the population to notice your message is the best path to take.

  • The best message will only be 6 words or less in length.
  • The message must be easy to read.
  • A phrase that will catch the attention of those passing by is best.
  • Large letters should be used.
    • These are the easiest to read.
    • Small letters or words are generally ignored or not noticed.
  • The message should not be distracting.
    • Distracting messages could cause accidents and should be avoided since most of the observers of the billboards are drivers on the road.

Branding a Product with an Outdoor Billboard

  • 6 seconds or less is the time drivers have to view the message.
  • The message should be easy to remember.
  • In many instances a short slogan and an image is best to get remembered.

 

Many of the popular restaurants and fast food chains do this very successful with just a picture of a hamburger and the company’s branded symbol.  This is simple, short and easy to remember.

The Number of Billboards in a Campaign

The more people that see your billboard, the better the advertising campaign will be. By placing an ad on a billboard of all or many of the major roads in a metropolitan area, more people will be viewing your message every day.

Static vs Moving Components

A static message relies on the words and image alone.

  • Very popular.
  • Lowest cost.
  • Least noticed unless the image and message hit with the public.

 

Moving components is action that automatically catches the eyes of those passing by.

  • Can be as simple as an arm moving back and forth on a static image.
  • Costs are higher, but are noticed by more.
    • When done correctly are very well remembered.

The Logo

Never forget the company logo and make sure it stands out. It is the logo that is branded with the public.

  • This has to be large enough on the outdoor billboard to be noticed but small enough not to be overpowering.

As in the movies and entertainment industry has recently shown, getting your message out to the public can be accomplished very successfully with outdoor billboards. The secret is to make the message short, sweet and to the point.