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Who murdered effective human billboards?

If your human billboard (HB) campaign lacks creativity, interactivity, research and most importantly strategy, then don't spend a cent of your marketing budget on this medium as in addition you'll waste effort, time and contribute to the population of killers. I'm not talking about handing out leaflets or waving and smiling interactivity but HBs should have some basic brand knowledge such as benefits, target market, few if not all key selling points in addition to interpersonal skills.

Marketers and sales executives would make perfect HBs

Most of HBs are sad, irritated, emotionless, stagnant, underpaid, thirsty, hungry, ashamed, exhausted, uncertain, humiliated and have not experienced the brand, in other words they have no idea what they are promoting and cannot associate with the product or speak on its behalf. These negative non-verbal hints have the potential to dent the brand.

HBs should be brand custodians instead of unresponsive bodies that carry an important message that doesn't even reach the audience as it's been destructed by the unenthusiastic body language. That means, therefore, a portion of a marketing budget has gone down the drain.

An inspiring HB campaign

Leo Burnett Milan came up with the most amazing, simple, out of the box, attention-grabbing, thought-through, efficient, innovative, interactive HB for their client ING Direct bank over a year ago. They branded various high traffic spots and placed their existing customers to communicate their positive experience to potential new clients and most importantly ask questions about various products.


Excellent results can definitely be achieved

This channel is meant for targeted audience within a specific location and is perfect to deliver short and sharp messages with a personal touch and automatically makes it extremely powerful. HB campaigns are always an afterthought to a significant number of marketers, which needs to stop, otherwise use other outdoor channels.

Key essentials to remember for a successful HB campaign:
• Strategy, research, creativity and interactivity are extremely vital
• Great HBs create a word of mouth, which promise new clients
• Time and location are totally key hence plan your messaging
• Happy HBs portray happy brands
• Don't reinvent the wheel but research great ideas
• Create a space for potential consumers to ask questions hence educate your HBs
• Communicate your objective to your HBs and treat them like your partners

Think through your next HB campaign and incorporate the above tips for great results. Remember that this is one of the influential mediums; attract attention, create brand awareness, controlled frequency, affordable and most importantly involve a real person hence use it intelligently.

About Rose Setshoge

Rose Setshoge's wealth of talent includes marketing, communications, journalism, advertising and research. She completed a media planning course at the AAA School of Advertising. She is senior marketing manager at Hypenica and writes on her personal capacity. Email Rose at and follow @RoseSetshoge on Twitter.
Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
Great article Rose. Can anyone share exciting examples of human billboards in South Africa? I can't think of one and that is a shame! With Cape Town inheriting the World Design Capital title in 2014, we really should step up our game.
Posted on 14 Dec 2012 14:13