After some preliminary research we started doodling. We knew early on that we wanted to make a billboard look like a giant piece of paper that had been marked up by the pen. Initially we played around with a number of ideas; doodles, meeting notes, small games. However, all these ideas felt as though they were being doodled by someone who was bored in a meeting. While that might be an accurate representation of some of our target audience, we decided it was better to provide the audience an escape from their daily routine rather than call attention to it.
We returned to our research and looked back at the history of BiC’s advertising. BiC has made extensive use of illustration in the past, particularly illustrations by Raymond Savignac, who also designed their mascot. They continue to use illustration on their instagram accounts by sharing drawings submitted by customers of all skill levels.
Our first illustrations were an homage to Savignac’s work, but we found that they felt dated. Worse, after a quick informal survey we found that while Savignac might have been more familiar in his native France, very few people here in the US had the spark of recognition that we were relying on. Instead we chose to focus on Seattle landmarks and created a series of illustrations that collectively made up a stylized view of the Seattle skyline and Mt Rainier.
We wanted to utilize the actual colors of the pen, but found quickly that at billboard size they bled together and were unrecognizable. After some tweaks we had colors that weren’t technically accurate to the inks of the pen but looked more like what you’d expect if you actually drew the scene yourself. To showcase the multiple colors, we illustrated each layer in a different color and had them appear sequentially.
While our drawings were solid, we were worried that people wouldn't understand that the billboard was being drawn with a single tool. To solve this we added a giant version of the pen to the side of the billboard, as if each time the billboard changed, a giant hand reached down and drew on the next piece of the scene. This had the added benefit of making the initial, blank billboard seem anticipatory instead of boring.
If this campaign were to go national we would repeat the format and style, but illustrate different landmarks appropriate to each location.