Seeking to spread word of its latest "brand communication concept" called Engineering for Life, the Swedish arm of Danish engineering mega-firm Ramboll asks us to reconsider billboards — blighted, skyline-polluting, product-pushing billboards — by going out and turning one into a bird feeder.
Far larger but less alarming than Stockholm’s coughing billboard, the bird-board covers roughly 1,140 square feet of a Ramboll office tower in Uppsala, Sweden’s fourth-largest city.
At first glance, the billboard, which depicts two disembodied and exceptionally well-hydrated outstretched hands set against a brilliant sky-blue background, could be mistaken for an advert for hand moisturizer. But then you notice that the hands are cradling real-life birds that keep swooping into the billboard and congregating there.
A press release explains that eight birdseed-dispensing platforms are located within the billboard, each equipped to provide an insta-snack to winged visitors drawn to what one would assume are the most highly visible set of hands in all of Uppsala. Behind the billboard inside the six-story office building, a Rube Goldberg-esque device driven by a gearwheel delivers the birdseed to the platforms via wheeled mini-trucks that hold jars "specifically designed for the birds to eat from." You can check out the process in action in the above promo video.
As far as reliable food sources go, birds in Uppsala have a hard go at it during the frigid winter months when temps routinely dip into the negative digits.
"Sweden — no country for small birds in the winter," declares Ramboll.
Got it. So, Ramboll would very much like you to know that is had extended two helping, birdseed-filled hands to Uppsala’s avian population as it struggles through another hard, cold Swedish winter. A kind gesture! But what does this all have to do with Engineering For Life?
"The bird-billboard is a creative example of how we use technology to create value for people society and nature," says Linus Almqvist, communications manager for Ramboll Sweden.
"When cities and infrastructure grow and develop, it is important to look at how animals and nature are affected and to find solutions where people and animals can live together," the Ramboll Sweden website goes on to explain before touting current engineering projects that are being executed with Mother Nature in mind: an emissions-reducing road project in the city of Västerås that makes preserving local frog and salamander habitats a top priority; a dam project in the Nyköping municipality with specially designed fish and wildlife passages; and a scheme to generate new habitats for seagulls and other wildlife displaced by urban growth and development in Norrtälje Harbor. (Ramboll is perhaps best known for its key involvement in the Oresund Bridge, a truly spectacular combination road-rail span connecting Denmark with Sweden, as well as the Copenhagen Opera House.)
A not-so-offensive billboard that’s both visually arresting and wildlife-assisting seems an effective way to get Ramboll’s message across. It’s another Swedish marketing stunt, sure, but it's one that does seem to fly above the rest.