True life: I never had cable TV until 2015. The only time I watched TV shows was on Netflix, Hulu, or basic channels; having cable was a whole new world. When we did get cable, after the installation men explained in detail how to use the remote, I watched commercials for HOURS. Because that’s all that is on cable now, right? Almost all the commercials were funny, inspiring, or advertising a car—those are usually in a class of their own.

Per a 2014 report from SJ Insights, people are exposed to an average of 5,000 advertisements and brands per day. Of that number, only an average of 153 advertisements are noted, and we only engage with about 12 ads. The competition for attention is fierce and to be the best, your ads need to stand out from the crowd to get noticed.

Keeping that in mind during this frantic holiday shopping season, I compiled a list of creative advertising ideas with examples to make your brand stand out!

 

1. Capitalize on Ego with a Sponsored Quiz

Someone told me once that the trick to getting people to like you is to simply get them to talk about themselves. They’ll walk away from the conversation knowing very little about you, but feeling great about themselves. That’s exactly what sponsored Buzzfeed Quizzes do! Everyone wants to know what type of Skittle or M&M they are, how they’ll die on Game of Thrones, if they’re a host or guest in Westworld.

 

2. Sponsor City Maps

This advertising idea seems to be most beneficial to tour bus companies and chain Italian restaurants (I have no idea why). While I was backpacking, I relied on these handy freebies that were largely available at train stations or—again, not sure why—Italian restaurants.

I carried these suckers everywhere. The maps are usually marked with the big tourist attractions and business locations. If you got the map from a bus company, all the bus stops would be marked. I inevitably ended up going back to the restaurant or finding my way to a bus stop when I got lost and using it to find my way other places.

 

3. Create Coupon Books

When I was growing up, we sold cookie dough, girl scout cookies, wrapping paper, and coupon books. Now, you can find coupons everywhere—online promo codes, Groupon, the newspaper, print ads on the subway. But coupon books are still alive and well. They seem to benefit tourists the most, with discounts on museums admissions and popular attractions, but what better way to get new customers than to put coupons in a city discovery guide?

 

creative advertising for tourists

 

4. Use the Environment to Your Advantage

These creative environmental ads are SO COOL. Not only are they better than boring billboards, they make an ordinary space into something funny or interesting for advertising purposes. I personally feel like these creative ads came straight from the brain of a five-year-old.

Advertising Ideas

Advertising on Boats

 

5. Don’t Be Afraid of Innuendo

As always, sex sells. It makes people look twice and pounds the image into their brain. Aziz Ansari has a comedy bit that talks about Equinox ads—like the one below—and how they rarely feature people working out or a gym. Instead, Equinox showcases models in exceptionally good shape in compromising positions. What does that have to do with their brand or product? Almost nothing. But I can attest that I will never forget seeing the below ad blown up on the side of a building on 53nd and Madison!

Equinox Ad Ideas