Picture, for a moment, your favorite span: the Brooklyn Bridge, say, or the Tower Bridge in London. Now add an Audi ad. And not just any Audi ad. A ginormous Audi ad. An Audi ad made of real Audi cars! An Audi ad so bright with ambition it'll blind you!
Has ambient marketing finally gone too far? Are we seeing the first of many landmarks to succumb to the id of the corporate world? What'll it be next, golden arches on the Eiffel Tower? Mon dieu!
The good news is that it's just a concept, the wacky idea of Access Agency, a creative firm run by the founder of The Cool Hunter. The bad news is that it's not that far-fetched. Municipalities and states are desperate for money. It's not hard to imagine some broke-ass city selling premium billboard space to keep schools open or fix ancient gas lines — even if it means bastardizing a historic monument. More on Access Agency's proposal here, in all its breathless glory:
"It is a display of four life-size Audi cars, suspended inside the silver rings of a massive Audi symbol attached to an iconic bridge structure or in front of landmark spaces " the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, Tower Bridge, Venice. The rings rotate around, light-up at night, and move up and down the bridge. Against the backdrop of spectacular urban architecture, the Audi installation reflects Audi's continuous challenging of the status quo, its capacity to innovate, and its ability to avoid the bland and the ordinary.?
The brief goes on to say that the real brand value will come from the process of getting the thing built: the "manufacturing and transportation of the gigantic rings, the installation of the rings, the hoisting of the vehicles, the first test of the lights, the rehearsals of the launch."
"The anticipation, excitement and buzz will culminate in an epic night-time launch event that we envision including a live symphony orchestra playing on a barge right under the suspended rings or on the bridge itself, a fireworks presentation or a LED light show above the bridge, and the ultimate unveiling of the rings."
That might go over big in China, where spectacle for the sake of spectacle is a new-found national pastime. But Sydney? London? Brooklyn? Those cars would be just begging for a new paint job.
And while we're all for cities finding innovative ways to shrink their budget gaps, selling out the local icons is a risky way to go. Landmarks have an aesthetic value that other public billboard space does not (eg. subways, buses, highways), and it translates to real dollars and cents. Throw up a, as the French say, "MacDo" ad on the Eiffel Tower, and you can be sure tourists will take their cameras — and their Euros — elsewhere.
[Images courtesy of Access Agency]