Nike Chalkbot's Predecessor: The 1895 Tricycle Printing Press

By Published on .

It's too bad there were no ad awards handed out at the turn of the 19th century. It turns out Wieden & Kennedy's award-winning stunt for Nike Livestrong -- the "Chalkbot" -- has a predecessor.

Gizmodo dug up some interesting details about a guerrilla marketing method dating back to 1895. The "tricycle printing press" was driven around the streets of Paris that fed ink onto the rear wheels, creating printed ads on the road. It was the hottest ad stunt of its time -- but it reminds us a lot of a modern ad stunt too.

Fast forward 114 years later to the Tour de France, where Nike teamed up with cyclist Lance Armstrong (pre-doping drama) to create a robot that let people all over the world chalk messages of inspiration directly onto the course of the French bicycle race, for the Livestrong Foundation.

Given it was birthed in the social media age, Chalkbot was a tad more technically advanced than its 19th century Parisian counterpart, and users could submit messages via text, online or Twitter.

It's a good reminder that when it comes to creativity, everything old becomes new again.

Take for instance "TXTBKS," the Cannes Mobile Grand Prix-winning campaign this year from the Philippines, which took old feature phones and transcribed text from schoolbooks onto SIM cards, which were placed in the phones. It was an innovative and intrinsically digital way of using an outdated technology.

Or, consider this must-have tool for any tech geek: design studio Berg's "Little Printer," which hooks up to sites and publications through your smartphone to provide you with little pieces of paper that will keep you up to date with what's happening online -- an analog way of consuming digital.

In this article:
Most Popular