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Advertising Signage, as clever as they come

Elevator advertising has grown more popular in the past few years; this take on Superman opening his shirt is a clever way to advertise the movie (JWT, Brazil). Photo courtesy of: www.astarlifts.com

Wherever you go there is always signage around you, whether you are indoors o outdoors. Signs have existed as long as businesses have been around. But what exactly is signage? Before we go into the image section of this article, we should define the basic terms:

  • Sign: Any type of visual graphic or graphic display created to transmit a message to distinct group of people.
  • Signage: A design or use of signs to communicate a message to a specific audience. Or a group or collection of signs. This term became popular in the twentieth century.

The main purpose of signage is to inform, to communicate, to identify, to promote, to direct or guide, to warn (safety or regulatory) something specific.

There are many types of signs, to name a few:

  • ADA signs
  • Advertising signs
  • Architectural signs
  • Construction signs
  • Corporate signs
  • Directional signs
  • Indoor signs
  • Interactive signs
  • Illuminated signs
  • Outdoor signs
  • Safety signs
  • Street signs
  • Vehicle signs

Signage does not have to be boring and does not have to limit itself to traditional locations or formats; the key is innovation. With that definition in mind we have gathered a few examples of creative advertising signage placed in different and unusual places.


Creative advertising billboard campaign “Follow the arches” using a deconstructed Mc Donald’s logo resembling roads shapes. You can see the billboard format is traditional, what makes the sign stand out are the graphics (Cossette Advertising Agency, Canada). Photo courtesy of: www.creativity-online.com


Miele vacuum

Miele Vacuum tunnel is a good example of a billboard turned into something inventive (although this billboard never really existed and it was created digitally to be played as TV advertisement, it is quite clever). Photo courtesy of: www.projectguerrilla.tumblr.com


(Left) Artificial Baltika cans were installed in the Metro de Santiago (Chilean subway), this is and example of non-traditional signage advertising known as “Guerrilla Advertising” (Sepia, Chile advertising agency). Photo courtesy of: www.adsoftheworld.com. (Right) Here we can see how wrapping can be taken into a whole new level, using the typical steaming manholes of NYC with the text “Hey city that never sleeps. Wake up. Folgers.” around a simulated coffee cup. Too bad the smell coming out of the sewer is not coffee. (Saatchi & Saatchi, New York). Photo courtesy of: www.gothamist.com

nose hair trimmer

Ambient advertising is placed on unexpected places or use unexpected objects. This example shows how the ad is built around electric cables to simulate nose hairs to advertise Panasonic nose hair trimmer (Saatchi & Saatchi Indonesia). Photo courtesy of: www.creativeguerrillamarketing.com


Another of ambient installation advertising at a Milan mall to promote Alice in Wonderland movie, simulating when Alice goes down into the rabbit hole (AUGE, Milan, Italy). Photo courtesy of: www.adsoftheworld.com

After seeing these examples, it is clear that a good advertising sign does not have to be expensive or complicated to create impact. You can use a traditional format and place an ingenious image to generate interest.


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