Clean Advertising: How to Use Reverse Graffiti to Grow Your Business
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to outdoor advertising. Will your ad stand out or will it blend into the visual noise of today’s busy streets? Will you still be paying for your ad to hang around on a billboard long after it’s lost its relevance? Most of all, will your ad be memorable?
Reverse graffiti advertising, or clean graffiti, is a unique technique that directly addresses these questions. It’s fast, remarkable, temporary, and offers ample room for creativity. Of course, the first question you probably have is…
WHAT IS CLEAN GRAFFITI?
The easiest example is the one you’ve no doubt seen before. Someone lets their car get so dirty until someone writes “CLEAN ME” in big letters on its rear window. That’s clean graffiti in a nutshell. You take a surface with a buildup of dirt on it, then spell out a message and/or a logo by cleaning it.
You may have seen examples of clean graffiti as a part of art installations or as simple advertisements. In either case, they do some things that regular outdoor advertising generally doesn’t, and they get noticed.
The first is how noticeable it is. When you’re walking through a city and looking down at the sidewalk, you don’t expect to suddenly happen upon an ad, let alone one that’s been cleaned directly onto the sidewalk. The unexpected nature of this ad technique makes it more likely that people will discuss, photograph, and share your ads. This translates into more bang for your buck.
Next, this is a relatively inexpensive form of advertising. All you really need is a custom stencil stencil and a power washer, which is inexpensive to rent (there more details on how to use these tools in the next section).
Reverse graffiti is also environmentally friendly. There’s almost no waste involved, particularly if you reuse your stencils. Compare this to the huge amount of paper wasted every year on other forms of outdoor advertising. If you’re a company that cares about being environmentally responsible, this is a great option to consider.
These ads don’t last forever, which helps to avoid that awkward situation when outdoor advertising like billboards hang around for months (or even years) after their content has become irrelevant.
SO HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
That’s going to depend on where you create it. If you’d like to test it out, use a power washer to clean a bit of sidewalk and see how long it takes to get dirty again. If you live in an area with a lot of pollution, it might not take very long. Remember that rain will speed up the end of your reverse graffiti ads.
Of course, you can impose your own end date by coming back and fully cleaning the area. This puts you in absolute control of when your ads disappear.
HOW CAN YOU CREATE YOUR OWN CLEAN GRAFFITI ADVERTISEMENTS?
It’s really easy, actually! First, you need to create a stencil for your ad. Look for a strong material. Remember that your stencil needs to be durable enough to withstand the force of a power washer.
Depending on what you’d like to advertise, you can also use large letter stencils, though custom stencils are easier to work with. In general, large, bold patterns and letters work best. Remember: most people will be walking right by your ad, so make sure it makes an impression quickly.
Then there’s the question of the power washer. Almost every hardware store has power washer rental options. Try to look for a portable model, as a lot of power washers are designed for outdoor home use.
CHECK YOUR LOCAL LEGAL SITUATION
This is the last step toward making your own clean graffiti advertisements. Generally, these temporary ads fall into a legal grey area and are totally fine to use. Some cities have addressed this type of publicity, however, so be sure to contact your local government or chamber of commerce and find out what your city’s position is.
Interested in getting expert advice on creating the best clean graffiti ads for your business?