We’ve looked at the year’s 10 best commercials. Now, it’s time to head outside and check out some of 2015’s best out-of-home work. Below, we’ve collected 13 campaigns that used their real-world setting to great effect, giving extra dimension to the brands (and in several cases, the causes) they promoted.
Mullen Lowe crafted this clever campaign, which urged New Yorkers to steal 181 bus-shelter ads across the five boroughs and redeem them for free flights and other swag.
12 Sky Atlantic
Millennium FX and Taylor Herring promoted a TV crime drama called Fortitude, which is set in a small Arctic town, by created an incredibly real-looking animatronic polar bear and letting it loose to roam around London.
10 Cancer Research U.K.
British people are failing to see the first signs of cancer. And no wonder: They don’t even notice the growing lump in a busy road in this fascinating PSA from AMV BBDO.
9 Don Giulio Salumeria
In the summer of 2014, Russia imposed an embargo on food imports from the European Union in retaliation for sanctions over Ukraine. But one Italian grocery store there, Don Giulio Salumeria, kept selling real Italian food—and promoted it without outdoor ads that could recognize police uniforms and hide whenever officers came over for a look.
Knowing how angry its viewers were getting about potholes, this Panamanian TV station came up with a nifty way of complaining: With help from P4 Ogilvy & Mather, it put special devices in the potholes that would automatically tweet nasty messages at the public works department whenever a car drove over one.
7 Forever 21
Ad agency Breakfast built an incredible 2,000-pound machine for the fashion retailer that re-created people’s Instagram photos using 6,400 spools of thread.
Publicis London’s outdoor campaign for the homelessness charity Depaul managed to tell two different stories with the same copy. The ads were placed on corners, with text on each side. If you read only the left side, the ads argued against giving up a spare room to a homeless youth. But read in full, the message was the opposite.
How do you teach children about the importance of sunscreen? By making a doll that is easily sunburned as well—and, like kids, can be protected by just a dollop of Nivea sunscreen. A great idea from FCB Brazil.
BBDO New York produced a great body of work for Snickers in 2015, but its most playful campaign might have been this one: It found real-life screw-ups all around New York City and put stickers next to them that read, “You make mistakes when you’re hungry.”
TBWA\Media Arts Lab made one of the best user-generated campaigns of the year by putting real iPhone 6 users’ photos up on giant billboards.
In a ridiculous, hilarious and very real campaign from Ogilvy Argentina, Salta beer designed tooth implants for the country’s rugby players who had lost teeth in games. And very special implants they were—they work as bottle openers.
1 Women’s Aid
For International Women’s Day, ad agency WCRS teamed up with Women’s Aid and Ocean Outdoor to create remarkable digital billboards about domestic violence. The ads used facial recognition to recognize when people were paying attention to the image of a bruised woman. As more people looked at the ad, her bruises and cuts healed faster, communicating the benefit of not turning a blind eye to the problem.