For most people, buses are a means of transportation to get around in your daily life, but the masterminds of the advertising world see a bus as a perfect moving canvas for the most creative and effective ambient ads. In a competition-fueled digital world, clever agencies still turn to traditional outdoor advertising with an original twist that catches people‘s eye and is thought-provoking. And they are definitely doing it right!
I collected a list of the most ingenious bus wraps spotted around the world. And some of them are so engaging, you might actually miss your bus.
Be sure to read on for Bored Panda's in-depth interview about the benefits of going for out-of-home, transit, and bus advertisements with the Senior Director of Marketing of Vector Media, Luke Leonard.
Bus adverts are just one form of out-of-home (aka OOH) advertising which does pretty much what it says on the tin: it's advertising that reaches people while they're out and about outside of their homes. Bus adverts fall under the 'transit' category of OOH but there are others, including traditional billboards and so-called street furniture that includes ads on bus stops and news racks.
Vector Media's Senior Director of Marketing, Leonard, told Bored Panda that their company specializes in bus and train transit advertising. "It's proven to give advertisers the largest possible audience with efficiency."
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Leonard gave us a few key reasons why advertisers should choose bus advertising over other options.
- "There are limited outdoor advertising options for billboards and signage particularly in major cities and their hot spots but bus advertising allows you to get into those hard-to-reach areas by way of driving through these districts via major thoroughfares in cities.
- Bus advertising comes in many shapes and sizes making it accessible to all kinds of advertisers and their budgets. Advertisers can go big and bold with what the industry calls 'Ultra Super Kings' (where the advertising covers the entire side of a bus between the wheel wells, or even bigger with fully branded Double Deckers. Alternatively smaller advertising options like King or Queen-size posters or tails (on the back).
- Bus advertising is scalable with vendors like Vector—we have advertising partnerships with dozens of transit authorities and bus companies in over 50 cities, so we can provide advertisers with placement in several major markets around the country all via our one-stop shop.
- Bus advertising is integrated with the environment around you meaning it is an efficient, economical use of existing infrastructure. Billboards are expensive because the property owners have to build massive structures that are sometimes in unfavorable locations that don't appeal to the local community, but buses are providing essential services to many communities.
- When partnering with vendors like us, we can amplify advertising by creating experiences for consumers beyond just seeing an ad on the outside of the bus. We can do interior transformations and build custom interior environments to provide consumers a truly memorable moment."
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Leonard also shared some great tips and tricks for how to turn heads with bus ads. They're bound to get lots of attention either way but creativity does wonders.
- "Play off of the fact that it's a bus—warp peoples' perspective of what they think they know they're looking at. Use the doors, wheels, lights, even the passengers inside the windows or on top of the Double Decker to be playful with the creative. Make the bus look like something it's not! For example, Vector Media won a 2020 OBIE Award for Paramount Pictures' 'Playing with Fire' Double Decker advertisement that turned the vehicle into a fire truck with the characters on board.
- Be contextually relevant—consider where this bus is and who will see it. How can you leverage the context of the environment to get attention? Consumers love being seen, represented or feeling like they're in on the joke. Make location-specific references to make connections with the people that see it."
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He added that Vector media has a lot of in-house creative production capabilities, including 3D printing and LED illumination on bus advertising. "Or even special effects like the genie smoke coming out of our Aladdin genie lamp." The cost might be higher but there's a lot of potential here to make advertising history, don't you think?
"If you follow these tips, not only will your bus advertising be effective in catching the attention of consumers but it will drive them to take pictures and share what they see on social media—meaning advertisers will gain even more media value through organic engagement online."
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Buses are far from the only means of transportation that have had adverts plastered all over (and even inside of) them. Other OOH transit category vehicles include trucks, subway trains, taxis, and even airplanes. They’re effective because you can’t skip them and it’s hard to ignore them when they’re in your face. However, this doesn't mean that all transit ads are as creative, ingenious, or effective as the ones you can see in this post.
Partially transparent window coverage techniques and see-through graphics have made it easier than ever for advertisers to 'wrap up' the entire bus, including the windows (except for the front ones, for obvious reasons). This means that advertisers and artists have a lot more flexibility when it comes to showing off their product or spreading their public service message. Two different types of vinyl can be used, one for the windows and one for the body of the bus.
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There are lots of pros to using OOH advertising. The Canadian Out of Home Marketing and Measurement Bureau claims that OOH quickly generates reach and a high return on investment. It also generates viewer interaction and emotional connections.
There are several reasons why OOH is so good at capturing people's attention. The first is obvious: it's all about the numbers. And with your ad being outside, there will be plenty of eyeballs ogling it. Even more, if your ad's on a bus that’s zooming around town. Secondly, the Canadian OOH Marketing and Measurement Bureau claims that consumers are 33 percent more alert when they're outside. In other words—ads and brands leave deeper, lasting impressions in the fresh air.
Meanwhile, the University of Alberta and Mediacom studied over 300 out-of-home advert campaigns and found that the time of the year had no impact on their effectiveness which makes them a pretty stable investment. However, what did have a significant impact was the creative execution. That means that with OOH, transit, and bus ads, creativity really is the key to getting noticed! In other words, you can’t afford to get sloppy with lazy and overly simplistic ad design.
According to them, literal ads that state facts or obvious things had the least impact. Meanwhile, ads that were single-minded, had shorter text length and larger type size were found to be more impactful.
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