Bus shelters are such dreary places, even advertising can sometimes spruce them up. Below, check out 20 examples of clever bus-stop ads that provide a welcome diversion while you wait for that bus that will never come.
- Guarana Antarctica
The Brazilian soft drink turned bus stops into goalmouths for this 2006 World Cup campaign. Bring your own ball.
- Caribou Coffee
Colle+McVoy in Minneapolis introduced Caribou Coffee's new hot breakfast sandwiches by making bus shelters looks like ovens—with actual heat coming from the coils. Hot stuff.
Yahoo! pitted San Francisco neighborhoods against each other with interactive, 72-inch touch screens at 20 bus stops that challenged people to play against crosstown rivals in live head-to-head social games. The winning 'hood got to host a concert with OK Go.
- Fisch Franke
The restaurant Fisch Franke in Frankfurt, Germany, made the point that it serves fresh fish by turning a bus shelter into an aquarium with live trout swimming inside it.
The Swedish retailer has been turning bus stops into little rooms with its furniture for more than a decade. Given the size of many city apartments, the scale isn't far off.
- Fitness First
This bus-stop ad for a health club in the Netherlands had a scale in the seat and displays the sitter's weight for all to see—to shame him or her into joining.
- Amnesty International
This German ad used an eye-tracking camera, and when it sensed someone was looking it, it changed the image (after a short delay) from marital violence to marital harmony. "It happens when nobody is watching," says the headline.
A trigger on this South African bus-stop made it light up only when someone was present, sending the message of energy conservation. "Only use electricity when you need it," is the headline.
- Big Brother
Bus shelters in Australia promoted the show Big Brother with Bluetooth transmitters that sent text messages to people nearby. The first read, "Im watching u," and gave the recipient's location. The second, 30-40 seconds later, read, "Big Brother is back. 7 PM weeknights on TEN."
Bus-stop ads for Vitaminwater in Boston, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles have been outfitted this summer with USB ports, so you can charge your phone or iPad.
A bus shelter in Vancouver was turned into an "hourglass," counting down the days until the end of a free-coffee promotion.
- Calgary Zoo
Not pretty, but effective—this Calgary bus shelter was trashed to promote a dinosaur exhibit at the zoo. Extra marks for the dino print in the shattered glass.
- Australian Environment
Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation showed its appreciation to people who took public transport by setting up motion sensors that triggered recorded applause when someone entered the shelter.
Pulling aside the shower curtain on this Italian bus stop revealed a knife-wielding killer—to promote the murder-themed board game Cluedo (aka Clue).
The company promoted its industrial-strength security glass by putting $3 million in a bus-stop display (actually, only the $50s on top were real) and challenging people to break it open.
- Spike TV
Spike TV brought a colorful lightsaber display to bus shelters to promote its 2008 airing of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, when it became the first basic-cable channel in the U.S. to air all six Star Wars movies.
- Science World
Gross, but surely unforgettable. Canadian educational nonprofit Science World created "sneezing" bus-shelter ads. When you pressed the button, you got hit with a spritz of water as a person was heard sneezing. It then threw out some scientific facts about sneezing.
The skate and surf brand made bus shelters a lot more fun for young punks in Copenhagen by adding a ramp to them.
- Virgin America
The carrier promoted the "mood lighting" on its airplanes but adding some to its bus shelters.
- Sun Smart
Need a little free sunscreen? This cancer-awareness bus-shelter ad from Australia has got your covered.