- HBO this month promoted the premiere of its "Watchmen" series with an out-of-home (OOH) campaign that brought billboards and signage to life through augmented reality (AR). Viewers saw virtual squids raining from the sky, a reference to the first episode of the series, per a company announcement.
- The OOH campaign included bus posters, transit shelters, wallscapes, billboards, subway posters and digital video billboards — called "liveboards" — throughout New York City and Los Angeles. The liveboards had a real-time countdown clock leading up to the show's Oct. 20 premiere.
- The campaign shows the series' key image and tagline "It's Time" in a bright neon font on dynamic digital and static displays. HBO worked with OOH company Outfront Media to develop the campaign for "Watchmen."
HBO's OOH initiative around "Watchmen" is the network's latest effort to immerse smartphone viewers in a mobile AR experience tied with scenes from its shows. To promote the final season of hit show "Game of Thrones," HBO in April created a branded Snapchat AR lens that showed a virtual ice dragon when people pointed their smartphone cameras at landmarks such as the Flatiron Building in New York and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The campaign for "Watchmen" expands on that idea by transforming billboards throughout New York and Los Angeles into computer-generated entertainment.
HBO is among the brands that have combined mobile technology with OOH advertising, which not only is a powerful channel that urges consumers to visit physical locations, but also can trigger measurable responses through mobile devices. Constellation Brands' Modelo beer brand this month unveiled an OOH campaign for Day of the Dead, the annual celebration observed in Mexican culture, featuring a billboard that springs to life via AR. Coca-Cola's Fanta soda brand last month launched a similar campaign that let Snapchat users point their smartphones at billboards and posters to unlock digital content including shareable AR filters and sticker packs. McDonald's in August deployed an OOH promotion that included an integration with Snapchat to bring ad posters to life with AR imagery.
Meanwhile, spending on OOH ads grew 4.5% in 2018 over the previous year to reach $8 billion, per the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA). Digital OOH represented 29% of the total 2018 OOH revenue, but there were also increases in the four main formats: billboards, street furniture, transit and place-based.