Outdoor advertising has long been the haven for companies with lots of money and creative whimsy. Whereas television is two-dimensional and ephemeral (meaning a minute or less in most cases), outdoor ads can be viewed 24/7.
Rooftop scaffolding signs can be attention-getting, more so than standard billboards. Historically, perhaps the pinnacle of outdoor, though, has been Times Square in New York City. Some 330,000 people pass by each day, and up to 460,000 on the busiest of days.
New Kid In Town
There’s a new kid in town, though, that is redefining outdoor advertising, if you’ve got the ad budget, that is. And it is only fitting it is in Las Vegas, home of the biggest, brightest, gaudiest whatever. It’s Sphere, of course, which opened on 29th September this year, and U2 has a residency until at least February. Although I have not (yet) been, I understand it is a completely immersive experience with wrap-around video to complement the stage.
But what about advertising, you ask? Hold on a sec…Coca-Cola recently staged a Sphere takeover of the most unique concert venue in the nation, using the exosphere to announce the launch of its latest product, Y3000 Zero Sugar. Both the soda and the visuals were created in part or in whole with AI.
AI To The Rescue
I know. “There he goes again with all that AI stuff.” I’m just going to step out on a limb here and nominate AI as the Person of the Year, because he/she has totally crushed it. It’s everywhere. While AI has been around for a number of years, it was only after ChatGPT was released last November that it became a household word. Or acronym.
Coke’s larger-than-life advert will display a futuristic cityscape that ties in with their Y3000 AI Cam, a tool also available to consumers to transform their photos into future-forward snaps.
Let’s talk about Sphere for a moment. It is 336 feet high, 516 feet wide at its widest point, and 875,000 square feet. Seating capacity is 18,600, and it cost $2.3 billion to build. Alas, Sphere was in the news this last week after it announced a $100 million operating loss for its 1Q. That’s an accounting loss, though, the kind that allows for many items to be expensed or written off. Remember, Amazon did not post its first profit until 4Q 2001, six years after launching. The IRS makes the rules, and we play by them, sometimes to our advantage.
But back to Coca-Cola. Their big splash on Sphere is for a week, ending on the 13th. Las Vegas averages 88,000 tourists a day on or near the Strip. While you have to be in a specific part of the Strip to see Sphere, it will be impossible to miss once you do. I can imagine people positioning themselves just to take photos. When was the last time you heard of people photographing outdoor ads and signage? Oh wait a sec…I do that, but I am looking primarily for vintage ones.
Think of this as the biggest outdoor ad ever, one that can be static or have motion. In this instance, it is the perfect venue for such a futuristic campaign. I suspect that Sphere will soon have a long line of companies wanting to advertise on its exosphere. Furthermore, Sphere is an excellent fit for companies wishing to go all in on digital as well as AI.
Just like Dippin’ Dots once proudly proclaimed themselves to be the ice cream of the future, Sphere offers the advertising of the future. Except that the future is now. I need to get back out to Las Vegas, to see this marvel, and go to a concert. This is better than anything Times Square could ever muster, and I suspect New York will be feeling the pangs of Sphere envy.
I just hope that U2 is still playing when I get there.
Dr “Achtung, Baby” Gerlich