When it comes to New York City, one of the most iconic places to visit in the bustling metropolitan maze is Times Square.
There’s a reason why advertisers all over the world are all willing to invest in Times Square and gain one of those coveted spots on the iconic billboards—they’ll have a reach of up to 40+ million people every single year. And, studies indicate that can bring in a company millions and millions of dollars simply by having times square billboards.
Times Square itself is a sensory overload. First, there are seas of people to navigate your way through. Then, there are the massive skyscrapers that surround the iconic square. And of course, there are hundreds of street acts also trying to get everyone’s attention.
The competition for attention has led advertisers to come up with some of the most brilliant and unforgettable billboards that have become iconic in the industry. From finding clever ways to use the LED screens to creating interactive campaigns that get the audience engaged, we’ve rounded up the five most unforgettable Times Square billboards of all time.
1. The live stream of kids dancing
American Eagle is a clothing brand that targets kids and teenagers. They launched their 77kids brand and decided to go big in Times Square to launch it. They took their billboard space to stream kids visiting Times Square dancing and having a blast with an iPad kiosk that they also set up in the Square. The brilliance of this was two-fold, as it not only got their target audience engaged with the brand, but it also got real kids doing the advertising authentically for them. And what kid doesn’t want to have their ‘moment’ rocking out on the big screens in Times Square.
2. The fight that took up 10 screens
HP is a technology company, so it’s no surprise that they put their expertise to use in coming up with an insane billboard advertisement in Times Square that literally took up 10 different billboard screens, with one of them actually being 23 stories high—yes you read that number correctly! With larger than life advertising space, they recorded a scene of their brand ambassador Serena Williams challenging a robot, with the fight moving across all 10 screens. This got the entire audience in Times Square instantly engaged, as it was as if they were watching a scene from a movie in real-time, with something different happening on every single billboard they looked at.
3. The drawing competition
Similar to American Eagle, Toyota got the audience in Times Square involved with their advertisement by hosting a real-time drawing competition to further support their new Prius model. They invited those in Times Square to pull out their iPhone and submit their drawing, which would then get pulled onto the big billboard screen for thousands and thousands of people to see. Now, that’s an Instagram moment any person would go crazy for, and showcased just how talented people from all walks of life have yet to be discovered!
4. Streaming real-time reviews
Nothing gets an audience to trust you more than them showcasing third party reviews from other customers. This is what many people in the United States use to make any consumer decisions. That’s also why this was so brilliant, albeit risky – with Dominos, who used their billboard space in Times Square to steam their reviews from customers in real-time on the big screen for all to see. This billboard is equally unforgettable because it led the way in encouraging more advertisers to be transparent with their messaging as well.
5. Real cars on real billboards
This one is pretty phenomenal, and not only is it an advertising feat, but an engineering one as well. Mini, the car company, put actual cars on the side of their billboards to showcase their new models. By creating a scene that looked so real, because it actually was, it made everyone in Times Square do a double-take. It’s not every day that you see a car attached to a billboard on the side of a massive skyscraper. For a brand awareness campaign, this one was brilliant.
There have been hundreds and hundreds of memorable billboards in Times Square. These five showcase the breadth of creativity and forward thinking marketers are now taking and setting the standard high for future billboards to try to compete with. From using real cars to real drawings and real reviews, advertising in New York is keeping it real whilst also keeping it exciting.