Supporters of the practice, including some inside the OOH industry, say it is a good and often creative way to draw eyeballs without paying for actual billboards. But some experts argue that fake OOH ads could erode brand trust.
“In today’s day and age, when consumer trust is so hard to get and easy to lose, I think we should stay away from fake and fraud,” said Anna Bager, president and CEO of the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA).
One of the most attention-grabbing fake out-of-home efforts in recent months came from L’Oreal cosmetics brand Maybelline, which in the summer posted a TikTok video showing a train in London with a fake eyelash on top of it getting a swipe of mascara from a giant Maybelline mascara wand as it pulled into the station. The TikTok caused some confusion among TikTok commenters who seemed excited to go and find the train in real life … only to find out it was created with computer-generated imagery (CGI)—the fake eyelash and wand weren’t actually at any train stations in London. “Who knows which line it is? Really wanna have a look,” one TikTok user commented, only for Maybelline to reply with a perhaps more confusing wink emoji and heart emoji. Maybelline did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.