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Whispering billboards, talkative cab drivers

Mobility & Transport

Straight from London: cab drivers who double as brand ambassadors and the world's widest billboard, that responds if you wave at it.

London is indisputably one of the world’s hotbeds for marketing and advertising innovations. Within a few weeks, we found not one but two truly interesting new ways for brands to get the word out about their goods and services. First: The widest billboard in the world, owned by Coca Cola. The 100 feet wide billboard, which replaced the old Coke sign in London’s Piccadilly Circus, has built-in cameras, heat-sensors and a weather station to allow it to interact with its environment, as well as with Londoners passing by. Which means it will display rain drops when it’s rainy, or make the billboard to ripple as if being blown by the wind if the London weather gets all, well, London-like. The sign even recognizes people waving at it. Future plans for the billboard include the ability to respond to text messages from mobile devices. (Source: Yes, this will remind many non-entrepreneurs of Minority Report, but hey, it’s a USD 19 billion outdoor advertising market out there! Second: The world’s best cab drivers can be found in London: they’re knowledgeable, courteous, and never short on topics of conversation. The latter has taken on a completely new meaning, thanks to London-based Taxi Media, the taxi advertising company with a fleet of around 10,000 taxis across the UK. Triggered by news that Spearmint Rhino Clubs was advertising with a competitor, and had invited participating cab drivers to visit the clubs in the name of research (Spearmint Rhino offers ‘gentlemen’ some of the more mature pleasures in life), Taxi Media introduced their ‘Brand Ambassadors’ program. Brand Ambassadors not only drive a branded vehicle, but will also tell their passengers about their advertiser’s service or product. The program was launched by flying a few dozen cabbies to Australia, on national carrier Qantas, to enable them to enthuse about the land down-under when driving their Qantas-branded cabs back in the UK. Other campaigns have included Clinique’s three step skin care product (yes, scores of drivers got a facial), and trips to South Africa on behalf of ‘South African Tourism’ (source: Clearly part of the growing Whisper Marketing trend, Taxi Media may have hit a mini-goldmine, and Springwise doesn’t see any serious obstacles to expanding this concept worldwide. Now if they can get cab drivers to hand out samples as well…


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