DDB San Francisco shines a light on energy conservation with glow in the dark billboard

Energy Upgrade California's #BetterOff billboard

DDB San Francisco recently worked with Energy Upgrade California to show that Californians can be ‘Better Off’ when lights on billboards are turned off at night.

In an experiment in energy conservation for Earth Day, Energy Upgrade California and DDB San Francisco took over a billboard in Los Angeles on Interstate 405 to demonstrate that together we’re #BetterOff. They arranged to have the usual lights on the billboard turned off for a night to create an alternative ad supporting the Energy Upgrade California initiative on top of the existing advertiser’s message, without the use of electric power.

Lighting the static billboard space at night usually consumes a great deal of energy, but this idea transformed the out of home placement into an off-the-grid media space. Using a special solar powered material, the Energy Upgrade California message illuminated after the power was turned off, taking over the existing billboard once it became dark outside. The #BetterOff billboard emphasized the need for every Californian to make an effort to save energy.

The work was the first created by Ben Wolan since he joined as executive creative director at DDB San Francisco, and he explained the technology they used to make it happen.

“We used a material called Light Tape. It’s a special tape that’s thinner than a credit card, so it can go behind the vinyl on a billboard. The entire surface of the tape is actually a light source which shines through the vinyl and it’s all completely solar-powered,” said Wolan.

The billboard’s regular ad was for McDonald’s chicken menu items. When the Light Tape was activated by night, the text changed to: “This was an ad for McDonald’s. Thanks to their partnership, it’s now an ad that saves energy.” It also featured McDonald’s and Energy Upgrade California logos, as well as the #BetterOff for Earth Day hashtag.

The collaborative effort showed that energy-efficient or energy-free advertising is something that can be recreated and used more widely, said Wolan.

“The possibilities of using energy efficient advertising in other mediums is huge. Most media placements consume energy and we’re always looking for ways to reduce energy consumption while still making the most of the media space.”

The agency created a transformation video to show the billboard in action, which can be seen by clicking the Creative Works box below.

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