This billboard, in Stockholm’s Odenplan square, coughs when a smoker walks by. The ad, for pharmacy chain Apotek Hjärtat, is there to cash in on smokers’ tendency to try to quit smoking as a new year’s resolution.
The ad uses a TV screen and a smoke detector to perform its advertising trick. At first, it looks like a regular photograph on a billboard, but when it detects smoke, the model in the photo starts to cough. You can see the reactions of smokers and passersby in the video above. Once it has their attention, the screen shows an ad for the pharmacy and all of the products it will sell you to help you quit.
The ad agency behind the gimmick–Akestam Holst–specializes in advertisements that react to their surroundings. In 2014 it wired a billboard on a metro platform with sensors so that the model’s hair appeared to get blown around whenever a train arrived. That ad was for hair-care products.
The coughing billboard is definitely an attention-grabbing campaign and perfectly targets its potential customers by only delivering its message to smokers. And it’s hard to argue with the benefits of giving up smoking–certainly a more worthy use of creativity than hawking hair-care products. “The purpose was to drive the conversation about this topic, documenting the reactions, encouraging people to live a healthy lifestyle,” Apotek Hjärtat’s Fredrik Kullberg told CNN. And to sell nicotine-replacement products, he didn’t add.