The problem with 3D billboards is that they need to be more and more ridiculously over the top to retain their original impact. The new Nike Air Max Day billboard is the perfect example, hitting us with robots, lasers, lightning bolts, bubbles and a giant scorpion across not one but two screens.
The dramatic barrage certainly commands attention, it might be one for our pick of the best billboard ads. I'm just not sure how motorists in Hangzhou are supposed to keep their eyes on the road – or where 3D billboards can go from here. Soon brands will need an entire block to merely raise an eyebrow.
First up, for any non-Nike fans reading, Nike Air Max Day is an actual thing. March 26 is the anniversary of Nike’s Air Max 1, which made its debut back in 1987, and Nike uses the date to launch new models, and often classic models too.
Created by Cekai, the 3D billboard for this year's event, is located in Hangzhou, China, and develops over two screens. It appears to dramatise the evolution of the Nike Air sneaker. Some snaky machines create the Nike Air 1 inside a bubble, and then the shoe gets hit by a barrage of lightning bolts and lasers, prodded by robot arms and finally gets attacked by a scorpion, which transforms it into, yes, the new Nike Air Max Scorpion. Then we're hit with a 'giant kick'.
Japan-based Cekai also produced a dramatic 3D billboard for Nike Air Max Day last year. This one was shown in Shinjuku, Tokyo (see below). Last year's offering was already impressively arresting, but this year's is notably more over the top.
There was a time not at all long ago when simply any kind of 3D billboard had a certain wow fact because of the novelty of the medium in brands' OOH advertising arsenals. But it hasn't taken long for people to get used to the format. Now 3D billboards need to be increasingly dramatic to have the same effect. This has to be one of the most dramatic we've seen yet – up there with Gillette's terrifying dystopian mixed-reality NFL ad.