A street sign that zaps Zika-carrying mosquitoes
Put up in Rio, they use a special solution to attract potential carriers
September 16, 2016
But a set of street signs this summer in Brazil did actually make the world safer by combating Zika.
The mosquito-driven virus, which causes birth defects in pregnant women, inspired mass panic in the lead-up to the Olympics earlier this year. The Games were held in Rio, where many cases of the virus had been reported.
A clever OOH campaign on the streets of the city aimed to raise awareness of the virus while also protecting people.
The signs attracted and trapped the species of mosquito known as a Zika carrier.
The agencies involved also made the technology used to capture them available to anyone, so anyone could set up their own Zika mosquito killers.
What was promoted
Zika awareness. The signs were a public service effort by the agencies Posterscope Brasil and NBS.
Why this stunt
Posterscope and NBS wanted to create signs that not only made pedestrians aware of the danger of Zika but also did something about it.
Otto Frossard, strategy director at Posterscope Brasil, tells Media Life the idea came about after the World Health Organization identified Zika as a global emergency.
“The big idea was to use the only media that is on the streets side-by-side with the population, out of home media, to promote the cause and actually be effective in killing mosquitoes along the way,” Frossard says.
The street signs were scattered throughout Rio for a 45-day period in late spring and early summer.
How it worked
While most effective OOH ads employ creative words or images, this ad used creative science.
The ads had two main features that attracted Aedes aegypti, a species of virus-carrying mosquito commonly referred to as the “yellow fever mosquito.”
First the sign sprayed a combination of lactic acid and CO2 into the air. That replicated the human sweat and breath mosquitoes are attracted to. The solution attracted mosquitoes from up to 2.5 kilometers away.
The signs were also outfitted with a fluorescent light that brightened the signs at night and further drew in mosquitoes.
The agencies installed a trap at the base of the signs. Bugs that got close to it were sucked in and trapped inside, where they eventually died from dehydration.
In Portuguese, each ad read, “This billboard kills hundreds of Zika mosquitoes every day.” The agencies estimate the boards killed more than 30,000 mosquitoes over the 45-day period.
A web address at the bottom of the boards directed passersby to MosquitoKillerBillboard.com, which shows visitors how the ads worked and how they can make similar traps themselves.
Why it worked
Zika has been a huge worldwide health issue all year, particularly in Brazil. The country was one of the first to endure major outbreaks, and so anything focused on Zika drew a lot of attention, especially with the impending games.
How it was received
The ads received tons of media pickups, including advertising blogs and publications. It was also covered by outlets including CNN, The Daily Mail, Wired magazine and Newsweek.
The story was picked up in a number of countries, too, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Poland, Italy, Greece, Japan, China, Sweden and Canada.
“We are receiving requests to install more totems everywhere–it has been an amazing ride,” says Frossard. “For us it is a big honor to showcase that out-of-home advertising is a very effective way to bring attention to important cause.”
A YouTube video showcasing the ad also received nearly 150,000 views.
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