Digital & Social Media

Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm


Bogotá, Colombia’s capital city, has one of the stormiest climates in the world, meaning that its population is at risk from dangerous, often fatal, lightning strikes. To offer passers-by some protection from the elements, insurance provider Seguros Bolívar is turning its billboards into lightning rods.

With Leo Burnett, Bogotá, the brand installed specially engineered metal towers on its billboards. The adverts could then provide protection for anyone standing within a 30-40 metre radius, safely redirecting electrical current to the ground.

The initiative was advocated by the city government, and legislation to make the feature a requirement on all outdoor advertising currently is being considered by Colombia’s government.



Actions speak louder than words. The campaign is a clever manifestation of the brand’s promise to protect its customers. Seguros Bolívar has created a functional piece of advertising: Instead of merely proclaiming the value of protection, Seguros actually helps keep people safe.

It’s a similar tactic to natural beauty brand Shokubutsu Hana, which created a floating billboard to help clean up the Pasig River in the Philippines, one of the most polluted rivers in the world. The nature-filled billboard cleaned the river as it moved, doing good while visually demonstrating the healing, natural power of the brand’s products.

Media savvy.  It’s the kind of simple, practical solution that attracts attention from the press and public. What better way to get noticed than by creating an advert which towers above everything else, and is zapped routinely by shocking bright light? While any brand (not necessarily insurance) could have executed this campaign, Seguros Bolívar will be credited with the idea, generating some valuable earned media coverage for the brand.

Brian Melarkey:

Insurance is – let’s face it – a grudge purchase. Who out there gets excited about paying monthly premiums for home, car or health insurance?

In the back of our minds we all know that having insurance is the right thing to do, but the companies that provide the policies and, ultimately, peace of mind, are rarely top of our list when it comes to brands we love.

Banks have a similar problem when it comes to consumer love. Having worked with both types of companies, I know that favorable PR is often hard to achieve. Every rate change, price increase, banking charge or levy is prime fodder for negative column inches. It can be a real challenge, therefore, to create something that is newsworthy and drives positive sentiment.

Enter Seguros Bolivar and their campaign created by Leo Burnett.

This campaign not only achieved mass positive sentiment, but may also lead to new legislation that makes lightening rods a requirement on all billboards. Quite a result, whether planned or not…

For me, the real strength of this campaign is in the fundamental and elemental problem it addresses and resultant favorable positioning gained for Seguros Bolivar. What brand would not like to stand tall above cities and protect its citizens from the destructive and deadly force of lightening? The billboards have an almost superhero quality – with the lightening acting as a malevolent antagonist preying on innocents, while the billboards act as silent defenders, sanding tall, keeping a watchful eye and removing the threat as it occurs.

Seguros Bolivar’s brand promise is to protect people, and the lightening rod billboards turn this paper promise into a reality that is made ever more visible each time lightening strikes.

We often say in PR that with our work, ‘we are not saving lives,’ but on rare occasions such as this, isn’t it great to see that sometimes we can?

Inspiring and exciting stuff.


About the author

Brian Melarkey

Brian Melarkey is a regional lead for FH ContentWorks in EMEA, working cross-agency with account teams and clients to provide high-quality content for activations on multiple communications platforms. Specializing in consumer marketing communications, he became the first creative director in the EMEA network in 2012. Coming from an extensive art background, he began his work in communications in 2005.

A FleishmanHillard employee.