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Contagious Billboards

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70% of people will yawn when they see someone else yawning. This is a statement that most will find it difficult to disagree with, but a study conducted by the State University of New York has now confirmed it.


That’s why in Sao Paulo, Brazil “contagious billboards” are appearing in the city’s subway stations displaying people yawning – and causing 70% off the people that pass by them to yawn too.

Using a motion sensor, the advertisement detects when people are approaching and displays a person yawning. The more people that pass by, the more frequently the billboard yawns, triggering a chain reaction throughout the station. When there are enough people around, a message asking “Did you yawn too? It’s time for coffee” is displayed in place of the “Yawner” and brand ambassadors descend into the crowd handing out samples of Cafe Pele coffee – a welcome pick me up now that commuters are aware that they are sleepy.


One of the most basic principles of marketing tells us to find an existing need or desire and satisfy it. This experiential campaign however actually creates the need – in an entertaining and innovative fashion. Cafe Pele have already convinced consumers that they are tired before they even offer up the caffeine fix, capitalising on the idea that it is much easier to sell a product to someone who is already convinced that they want it.

The “Contagious Billboard” campaign puts a fun spin on product sampling by having the brand ambassadors appearing at the exact moment when consumers are likely to be thinking about how tired they are and offering them a solution. This method of product sampling surprises and delights whilst allowing people to try a new product without any risk of them disliking it or regretting their purchase. Product sampling has proved to be an invaluable way of sparking interest in a product, building trust in the brand and projecting brand confidence, as you are essentially telling consumers to try your product without spending any money at all, as you are confident that it will impress enough to result in a future purchase.




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