Lenticular billboard sends contrasting messages

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An intriguing new display technique for advertising billboards might set the alarm bells ringing for regulators. The innovation has been devised by a Spanish charity called the Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation, or ANAR for an awareness campaign.

The billboard, devised by the advertising agency Grey, uses a lenticular display so that it provides different messages depending on the angle at which it is viewed. In effect it means that an adult and a child will see contrasting messages in the image. An adult will see the wording, "sometimes child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it." From the perspective of a child though the image presents the picture of a badly bruised face and the message "if somebody hurts you, phone us and we'll help you", along with a hotline number. It's a bold design that attempts to address the problem of children whose abusers are family members who might be standing right alongside them.

Lenticular pictures, offering different perspectives depending on the angle of the viewpoint, are hardly cutting-edge technology. Indeed, the basic process can be traced back to the turning panoramas of the 17th century. Lenticular images have long been familiar in galleries, and animated lenticular cards were used on cereal packets and in promotional handouts, but the ingenious, if expensive, Spanish billboard is the most striking use in advertising to date.

What may be a problem is the element of deceit or covert advertising to minors, which would be likely to fall foul of directives on the use of advertising in the UK. Although it might seem acceptable for a charity to provide a hidden message to abused children, the notion of commercial advertising that can speak directly to children without their parents' knowledge would be likely to provoke a storm of protests.

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