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Espresso of Innovation: Utility Bill(board)

By Dan West, Innovations Manager, Draftfcb UK

Hello and welcome to this week's Espresso of Innovation; the hottest news and strongest stories from the world of creativity and technology filtered into a quick shot of inspiration. This week, make yourself useful.
Advertising can be more than just a beautiful TV ad. The most engaging content is when you combine entertainment, participation and utility whilst making it relevant to your audience. I wanted to focus on advertising that provides utility.
Physical Utility
Brands and agencies need to look beyond the traditional creative executions to see how their product or brand positioning could have a positive effect on people’s life beyond the usual product benefits.
A prime example is from Draftfcb Cape Town where client Engen’s annual calendar, which educates about paraffin oil and fire safety, quickly folds out to afire blanket. The initiative created a lot of positive PR for the company, helped their CSR credentials and has won a pencil at this year’s One Show Design awards.
There are many more from the billboard thathouses artists to the billboard that offerslight therapy. And recently our very own Mayo Peru Draftfcb picked up two One Show pencils for creating a billboard that turnedwater in the atmosphere into drinking water. Not only do these advertisements perfectly dramatise the product or service – in this case the engineering capabilities of the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima – but they provide useful services such as drinking water for a town.
Big Data Utility
As a company that describes itself as the “12th man coming into the telecoms market team” Aircell needed to stand out. If you have a look at the work, they have done this in a number of ways but my favourite has to be the aircellbillboard raft. By analyzing rainfall data they knew that a particular stretch of motorway in Mumbai was going to flood at some point. A billboard was erected by the motorway with a raft attached for when the motorway flooded. And that July it came in very handy.
But you don’t have to build an entire billboard - the digital world allows cost-effective useful adverting as well.
Digital Utility
A good example of digital utility comes from Toyota. They create useful advertising by opening up its technology to the masses to createideas for good. Their technology allowed developers and designers to come up with ideas from safer firefighting to solar powered ventilation. All of which have a use in every day life and created advertising for Toyota’s technology.
Advertising Is Useful
Of course, you could argue that all advertising is useful: it helps us make better decisions and informs us of products we may possibly not have been aware of before. But agencies and brands need to have their eyes open and a hunger for seeing the potential in everything to create positive, useful advertising that resonates with people. That is what leaves a lasting impression.