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The Green Billboard

The Green Billboard

Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith

August 6, 2019

Unused Media Space Transformed into Ads for Transavia by Havas Paris Seven

"We immediately thought 'even these billboards are on vacation' and since we work for Transavia, the link was easily made."

If you’re navigating your way through France you might see green paper covering unused ad space. During school holidays in France, 15% of the unsold media billboards are covered in green paper that is precisely the brand color of Transavia, the low-cost airline company of Air France KLM. So, Havas Paris Seven creative director Stéphane Gaubert and copywriter Marine Surmont got clever and transformed the unsold billboards from green paper into free ads that were spread with a contest by tagging @transaviaFR and using #TheGreenBillboard. 

 

What was the brief from Transavia?

The brief was the same as for most brands: an impactful campaign—smart, fun, and obviously the lower the media spend, the better. The objective was to increase Transavia’s visibility and create brand preference by tactically reaching our target market in their daily lives. Traditional media are extremely expensive and as a low-cost airline, Transavia has to deal with a modest budget. That’s why we had to propose a smart idea that would work within that budget.

What insight led to this campaign?

This campaign is a statement connects with  people in everyday life. All those who work and take transport while on holiday from school have already seen these unsold green billboards unsold.

Was it a coincidence that the color France uses for unused billboards was Transavia’s exact brand color? How did the idea to use this for the ad come up?

Yes, it’s a perfect coincidence that the green used on these billboards is exactly the same as the color associated with Transavia. The idea came when we were working during school holidays, by taking the subway to work, we saw these green billboards and we immediately thought “even these billboards are on vacation,” and since we work for Transavia, the link was easily made.

"The unused green signs continue to exist, and the notoriety of Transavia’s color will continue to resonate with the public."

How did you implement the social campaign to get people to understand there was an interactive ad where this blank green billboard normally is something to ignore?

As these green signs exist in all the transport authorities of France, it’s a familiar thing for French people who take public transport. So, we launched this operation at the beginning of the spring school vacation with a video on social networks. The video took inventory of some unused green billboards in the subway, and invited those who were not on vacation to post them on Instagram by tagging @transaviaFR to win airline tickets. Every day, Transavia’s community manager counted green billboards discovered by travelers and animated this green billboard race via Instagram Stories and going live on Facebook.

What has been the response to this campaign?

Many people tried to win plane tickets by searching for green billboards and tagging @transaviaFR on their own Instagram Stories. But the most important is that although this operation only lasted a week, the unused green signs continue to exist, and the notoriety of Transavia’s color will continue to resonate with the public. 

Why do you think the campaign was effective?

This campaign was effective because it hit our target in their daily lives in a different way, without adding more advertising but leveraging dormant billboards and turning them into an opportunity to go on vacation. 

If you could fly anywhere in the world tomorrow where would you go and who would you take? 

I would go to Peru with Harrison Ford. I think he must be a good guide in mysterious and hidden places. 

"We immediately thought 'even these billboards are on vacation' and since we work for Transavia, the link was easily made."

If you’re navigating your way through France you might see green paper covering unused ad space. During school holidays in France, 15% of the unsold media billboards are covered in green paper that is precisely the brand color of Transavia, the low-cost airline company of Air France KLM. So, Havas Paris Seven creative director Stéphane Gaubert and copywriter Marine Surmont got clever and transformed the unsold billboards from green paper into free ads that were spread with a contest by tagging @transaviaFR and using #TheGreenBillboard. 

 

What was the brief from Transavia?

The brief was the same as for most brands: an impactful campaign—smart, fun, and obviously the lower the media spend, the better. The objective was to increase Transavia’s visibility and create brand preference by tactically reaching our target market in their daily lives. Traditional media are extremely expensive and as a low-cost airline, Transavia has to deal with a modest budget. That’s why we had to propose a smart idea that would work within that budget.

What insight led to this campaign?

This campaign is a statement connects with  people in everyday life. All those who work and take transport while on holiday from school have already seen these unsold green billboards unsold.

Was it a coincidence that the color France uses for unused billboards was Transavia’s exact brand color? How did the idea to use this for the ad come up?

Yes, it’s a perfect coincidence that the green used on these billboards is exactly the same as the color associated with Transavia. The idea came when we were working during school holidays, by taking the subway to work, we saw these green billboards and we immediately thought “even these billboards are on vacation,” and since we work for Transavia, the link was easily made.

"The unused green signs continue to exist, and the notoriety of Transavia’s color will continue to resonate with the public."

How did you implement the social campaign to get people to understand there was an interactive ad where this blank green billboard normally is something to ignore?

As these green signs exist in all the transport authorities of France, it’s a familiar thing for French people who take public transport. So, we launched this operation at the beginning of the spring school vacation with a video on social networks. The video took inventory of some unused green billboards in the subway, and invited those who were not on vacation to post them on Instagram by tagging @transaviaFR to win airline tickets. Every day, Transavia’s community manager counted green billboards discovered by travelers and animated this green billboard race via Instagram Stories and going live on Facebook.

What has been the response to this campaign?

Many people tried to win plane tickets by searching for green billboards and tagging @transaviaFR on their own Instagram Stories. But the most important is that although this operation only lasted a week, the unused green signs continue to exist, and the notoriety of Transavia’s color will continue to resonate with the public. 

Why do you think the campaign was effective?

This campaign was effective because it hit our target in their daily lives in a different way, without adding more advertising but leveraging dormant billboards and turning them into an opportunity to go on vacation. 

If you could fly anywhere in the world tomorrow where would you go and who would you take? 

I would go to Peru with Harrison Ford. I think he must be a good guide in mysterious and hidden places. 

Danielle Smith is the Communications Manager of Havas Group. She’s believes every meal can be tacos if you have tortillas and the heart to try.

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