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5 of the best 3D billboards: ‘They’re blurring lines between content, OOH & experiential’

Amazon Prime 3D’s billboard for The Wheel of Time at Piccadilly Circus in London

The Drum lists five of the best experimental 3D out-of-home (OOH) billboards, a burgeoning new technology on the high street that has strong implications for how marketers bring their campaigns to life. We speak to Amplify’s executive creative director Alex Wilson to get the lowdown on the potential of the sector.

Hyper-realistic 3D OOH billboards have been stunning passersby on busy streets in China, South Korea, the US, Japan and recently the UK. The creative campaigns blur the lines between technology and reality while showcasing that creativity in advertising really is limitless. “The potential that can be unlocked working directly with IP and talent is truly exciting,” says Amplify executive creative director Alex Wilson, who recently worked on Amazon Prime’s 3D OOH campaign at Piccadilly Circus.

“Creating 3D anamorphic billboards using characters, environments and IP usually restricted to being seen on TV or cinema screens is a huge world-building opportunity, especially when the studios and creators collaborate to bring them to life. This allows us to have characters break the fourth wall, interact with our IRL environments and blur the lines between content, OOH and experiential like never before.”

From Balenciaga’s collaboration with Fortnite, to Rosamund Pike fronting Amazon Prime’s trippy campaign, to Glenfiddich’s Highland stag, brands are realizing the creative potential of these larger-than-life illusions.

“It’s an execution that can be witnessed by few IRL, but experienced by many through content. A content engine can drive interaction and conversation through social, either as an impactful stunt moment or as part of a synchronized campaign plan,” he adds.

Creative OOH can be used to tell part of a story or the whole story, but you only have people’s attention IRL for a very short window, so how do you make that the most compelling, entertaining and informative part of your campaign?

“Whether it lives as an impactful moment in time that can live on through social, or as part of a bigger campaign story, it’s a powerful tool for brands to harness in the right way,” Wilson notes.

Here are five of our favorite 3D billboards so far.

Balenciaga and Fortnite

Back in September, Spanish luxury fashion house Balenciaga and Fortnite teamed up to entrance citizens of London, New York, Tokyo and Seoul by creating a spectacular real-world immersive 3D billboard experience.

The attention-grabbing OOH execution showcased a Balenciaga-wearing Fortnite favorite Doggo looming larger than life over the sidewalks, bringing the partnership to the physical world in a very entertaining, and potentially somewhat jarring, way.

The billboard scene was assembled in Unreal Engine and the team leveraged real-time ray tracing and physically-based lighting materials to make Doggo seem like he is truly in each location.

Amazon Prime

Amplify has created an anamorphic billboard for Amazon to promote Prime Video’s forthcoming fantasy series The Wheel of Time.

The show’s lead actor, Rosamund Pike, is at the center of the live-action 3D illusion that debuted on Monday November 15 in Piccadilly Circus.

Further drops are planned in key markets including New York’s Times Square and Tokyo’s Cross Shinjuku Vision. Each site has a bespoke illusion to fit the space around it.

Amplify, which counts Sony, Google and Airbnb as its clients, has used a combination of greenscreen, CGI and VFX, collaborating with the show’s VFX teams at Amazon Studios and MPC.

Netflix

Ever been stopped in your tracks by a zombie tiger in the middle of London? Back in May, Netflix brought Piccadilly Lights to a standstill with the 3D billboard campaign to launch Zack Snyder’s blockbuster movie Army of the Dead.

The 20m tall activation featured a lifelike VFX zombie tiger called Valentine, created by acclaimed visual effects supervisor Marcus Taormina (Bird Box, Guardians Of The Galaxy), roaming around post-apocalyptic Las Vegas.

At the time Snyder noted that the visual effects team actually visited Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue (pre-Tiger King fame) to use the tigers as inspiration for Valentine’s movements.

Deliveroo

Delivery service Deliveroo recently tapped into 3D advertising hoping to entice hungry Londoners with its tasty-looking billboard.

The immersive spring campaign ‘Food. We get it’ was brought to life by Will & James, a multidisciplinary creative team, which wrote, cut and animated the supporting material for the Piccadilly site using existing footage from the TV executions.

A delicious larger-than-life garlic bulb, zesty lemon and ripe avocado circle the star of the show, a taco, which is bound to get any Mexican food lover in the mood for a takeaway.

Glenfiddich

Scottish single malt whisky brand Glenfiddich stopped onlookers in their tracks with a 3D activation at Piccadilly Circus.

The next chapter in the ‘Where Next?’ campaign features the brand’s instantly recognizable stag in its natural Highland habitat and was brought to life by London-based creative agency Space.

Viewers may get a surprise at the end of the film though, as the stag appears to leap right out of the billboard.

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