Pressure by Signage


In their latest project for pharmacy Apoteket Hjärtat, Swedish advertising agency Åkestam Holst has created a digital installation dubbed ‘The Coughing Billboard’ that promotes products and services while doubling as a very effective deterrent for cigarette smoking. Thanks to built-in smoke detectors, this campaign features a black and white image of a man that literally breaks into a coughing fit whenever someone lights up in close proximity. Not unlike the 2015 campaign collaboration between Posterscope and Carat Scotland that aimed to raise awareness about lung cancer, ‘The Coughing Billboard’ uses today’s digital signage technology to cleverly remind those still clinging to their nicotine addiction that secondhand smoke remains a serious concern for many citizen—even in an open public space.

Of course, this altruistic message regarding personal health and wellbeing for the populace quickly morphs into an advertisement for various nicotine substitutes and other products to help wean one’s self off the chemical dependency. As the video below illustrates, the nearby smokers’ reactions to the billboard range from surprised to amused to offended. Whether it’s a New Year or just time to quite a bad habit, there’s nothing like a little public embarrassment, pressure and humiliation to guilt you into a healthier lifestyle. It seems to us like that should qualify as fairly interactive content as well.

About Author

Jason Kushner is a videographer, editor, writer and filmmaker living in the Greater Atlanta Area. With an educational background combining film and journalism, Kushner has shot video and written for a myriad of publications and multimedia projects including Creative Loafing Tampa,, Starline Films and Digital Signage Connection. His 2009 documentary American Colonies: Collapse of the Bee became an Official Selection at 12 international film festivals, won Best Documentary at the 2009 Central Florida Film Festival and a John Muir Gold Award at the 2009 Yosemite Film Festival.  In 2015, he became Digital Media Editor for Digital Signage Expo, LightShow West and LED Specifier Summit and has since become Digital Content Manager for those shows’ parent company, Exponation.

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