Future technology…today

A look at how the advertising industry is channeling ideas of the future such as flying cars, teleportation and invisibility.

While many of sci-fi’s futuristic technologies – as seen in the likes of Minority Report, The Jetsons, Star Trek and Back to the Future – have finally come to pass (think audio ads that speak directly to you, 3D stunts or teched-out clothing), many have yet to see the light of day. But that’s not going to stop the fantasizing. We asked a few ad folk to tweet us their sci-fi-inspired tech wish list, and we rounded up the closest thing in existence – and advertising – today.


@ChrisStaplesVan: I’ve always wanted to try a flying car. I’m partial to DeLoreans, but even Chitty Chitty Bang Bang would be cool. Chris Staples, partner and CD, Rethink

Flying cars would be wicked…should anyone ever figure out how to make one. Massachusetts-based Terrafugia supposedly has a flying car ready for deployment (pictured above), though these autos look more like mini-planes than Hondas. But to date, no one has figured out how to get cars into the air.

Brands taking advantage of flying machines are few and far between, but Domino’s Pizza unveiled a delivery helicopter this summer to send customers pizza by air in 30 minutes or less. While not a car – or even a full-sized vehicle, the pizza chain has always had to rely on on-the-ground support for its delivery service. Now, it doesn’t have to contend with traffic jams.

Amazon followed this up with a recent announcement that it too is developing a drone/copter system to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less.


@Rob_Sweetman: I’d like to see the Jetsons’ kitchen where Jane pushes the “Roast” button & out pops a meal. I doubt it tasted that great. But who cares, you can always push another button. Rob Sweetman, founder and CD, 123w

water billboardWhether it’s The Jetsons‘ food button, Star Trek‘s replicator or Back to the Future‘s rehydrator, sci-fi flicks are pretty unanimous that one day food will be as easy as a touch of a button – possibly even appearing out of thin air.

Materializing molecules is, as of yet, impossible, though new tech does allow for rehydrated food to become full-sized and Barcelona-based Natural Machines has unveiled a 3D food printer, using up to five ingredients (though it’s still not able to print a pot roast).

On the advertising side, in Lima, Peru, the University of Engineering and Technology and Mayo Draftfcb partnered to get water out of thin air…literally. The brand set up giant billboards that could collect H2O molecules out of the sky, directing them to containers below, allowing for drinkable water for locals in an arid climate.

Also in South America, Philips and Ogilvy Brasil created new foods to promote the appliance maker’s new blender. With the help of a molecular scientist, the brand created three fruits, including the pinegrape (pineapple and grape), bananaberry (banana and strawberry) and kiwigerine (kiwi and tangerine), by blending one fruit, breaking down the molecules in heat and then soaking the other in the juices. Again, while this isn’t creating food out of nothing, this stunt really got to the molecular level to promote.


@Coreyblenkarn: Human size pneumatic tubes from the Jetsons would be awesome! Best commute ever!
Corey Blenkarn, interactive designer, ZoomerMedia @Giantsandgents: One word: Teleporting.
Alanna Nathanson, partner and CD, Giants and Gentlemen

San PellegrinoTeleportation and travel-tubes are decades, possibly centuries, away. (Though we heard that this past May, a European research team successfully teleported a single photon, or an elementary particle, between the Canary Islands.)

Until then, we’ll just have to rely on old-fashioned screens and video to move us from place to place.

However, a few brands attempted to transport consumers to a new world this year. San Pellegrino and Ogilvy & Mather New York allowed users across the globe to control a robot on the ground in Italy (right). The robot, which people could pre-book to control remotely, could wander the streets of Taormina, interact with the locals and even be a tourist.

Tourism Victoria and Clemenger BBDO in Australia used the same idea, only with people. Folks from the other side of the globe could tweet or post touristy demands and one of two “surrogate” travellers had to complete it (everything from karaoke to kissing a fish).

French train operator SNCF and TBWA\France had the same idea, but set up giant doors in the middle of public places. When opened, a live scene from somewhere else in Europe would play out, with folks on the other side of the door engaged in fun activities, like a mime in Milan or hip hop dancers in Barcelona.


@Lg2_Tweets: Market research needs Harry Potter’s invisible cloak. True consumer insights can only stem from real-life eavesdropping, not focus groups held in labs.
Alexis Robin, partner and director of interactive, Lg2

MercedesWhile Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak would be pretty darn cool, it doesn’t exist…yet.

That being said, in December 2012, B.C.-based HyperStealth Biotechnology – backed by the U.S. military – made headlines around the world when it announced it had manufactured material that could actually render the wearer transparent, bending light around the cloaked object. Since then, a number of scientists have claimed to crack the invisibility code.

While the true cloak of invisibility hasn’t yet been used by advertisers, it may just be a matter of time. In March 2012, Mercedes-Benz wrapped a car in LED lights and cameras, showing people what was on the opposite side of the car and rendering it “see-through.”

Lynx – Australia’s version of Unilever’s Axe body spray – and Soap Creative also claimed to have created the first invisible ad in 2012, decking out a house’s windows with screens that were essentially blank until seen through a special set of sunglasses. People with the shades got to see a dog swimming around in a flooded apartment, a couple getting hot and heavy and a monkey just hanging out.

Finally, in Spain, the Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation and Grey Spain created an OOH ad for the eyes of children only. Using a special lenticular printing technique, the brand created two separate messages on the same ad, viewable at different heights. Based on the average height of children under 10, the ad sent out a secret message to kids to call the organization for help if they’re being abused.