5 Out of Home Advert Campaigns that Changed the World


A lot of people think ads simply sell products, but that isn’t the case. Over the years, there have been out of home advertising campaigns that have made political stands, altered social conventions, and changed the world as we know it. As big lovers of all things marketing at Focus Media Outdoors, and as particular fans of the traditional, out of home ads, we thought we’d put together just 5 that had a big impact on the world we currently live in. Enjoy!

We Can Do It!

Perhaps one of the most iconic out of home marketing images of all time is that of Westinghouse Electric’s ‘We Can Do It!’ poster.

Originally, the design was put out in the factories of the company to encourage and motivate the female employees who had taken on the male jobs during World War II. But, during the feminist movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s the image became an iconic representation of female empowerment.

Even today, female icons such as Beyoncé are using the poster to display their political, feminist views.

Get Women Shaving

Love it or hate it, shaving body hair is a part of modern day western culture. But have you ever considered how it all began? Well, for women, the reason you shave your legs, armpits, and anywhere else is all down to a clever marketing campaign by razor giant, Gillette.

They were already producing men’s razors but wanted to break into the women’s market in order to sell more and increase their profits. Their answer was, of course, to create an out of home advertising campaign.

They created the idea that shaving for women was modern, and also portrayed women’s body hair as an ‘embarrassing personal problem’. The result? Over 100 years later and women everywhere are still following the advice of Gillette.

The Human Billboard

As an example of more recent out of home advertising that’s been used to create a tremendous impact, we want to introduce you to the ‘Human Billboard’ of France. As a stand against the far-right political party Le Front National, Leo Brunett France and the CRAN created an out of home advertising campaign that got people talking.

They collected racist insults from personal accounts, interviews, and social media, and tattooed them onto the body of a man. He then took to the streets of France, displaying the problem of racism in a way that was impossible to ignore, and handing out leaflets that explained the campaign.

A Diamond is Forever

Just as with shaving, diamond wedding rings haven’t always been a ‘thing’.
In fact, it was a simple out of home advertising campaign by De Beers in 1948 that created this tradition. They were struggling to sell their gemstones and came up with the slogan ‘A Diamond is Forever’ in their ad.

Whilst this doesn’t seem revolutionary, Americans instantly began associating diamonds with eternal love, and thus the diamond wedding ring was born.

The Coffee Break

If you’re a fan of your daily coffee break at work, you’ve got nothing else but out of home advertising to thank. Around 1955, the Pan-American Coffee Bureau ran an ad that used the phrase ‘Give Yourself a Coffee Break’. Soon, everyone wanted one. In fact, it became so popular that a lot of workplaces introduced them in the morning or afternoon – and still keep up with them today!

There you have it – just goes to show that marketing can be about a whole lot more than selling, doesn’t it? Create a successful out of home advertisement and you can, quite literally, change the world.

If you’re on a mission to alter the way we live with your brand, get in touch with Focus Media Outdoor and our experts will help you. It’s what we do!

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