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This Bloody Clever Dracula Ad Gets Creepier as the Sun Goes Down

BBC Creative turns stakes into a monstrous silhouette

Dracula, the gothic masterpiece from Bram Stoker, is the century-old gift that keeps on giving—not only to fans and content producers, but also to marketers looking for a juicy project to sink their teeth into.

Ad mavens in the U.K. have captured the essence of vampiric DNA and blended it with modern outdoor ad tech to draw viewers to BBC One’s new version of the classic blood-sucker tale, airing on TV this week.

BBC Creative’s billboard appears to be just speckled with wooden stakes by day. But as night falls, those weapons start casting shadows across the canvas, eventually revealing the silhouette of the show’s star. The undead monster, after all, only operates under cover of darkness.

The outdoor campaign, running in London and Birmingham, is “one of the most ambitious special builds we’ve ever undertaken,” says Olly Harnett, creative head of BBC Creative. It also includes a glass box at street level that contains a single sharpened stake with the directive, “Break in case of vampires.”

BBC Creative
billboard with stakes casting dracula's face in shadow
BBC Creative

Dracula, from Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (beloved for their work on Doctor Who and Sherlock), stars Claes Bang as the magnetic villain from Transylvania. The Guardian calls the show “an homage to all the great Counts who have gone before, but still entirely its own thing.”

Ads have aimed to convey the program’s “dark humor and rock star swagger,” says Chris Hooper, BBC One’s head of marketing. This approach can be seen in the use of “Bloody Legend” as a tagline and Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” as the trailer’s soundtrack:

This isn’t the first clever use of vampire-centric dayparting we’ve seen in recent years. To promote the now-departed Fox series The Passage in 2019, agency BETC/Havas São Paulo created posters that burst into flames at sunrise. The self-immolating ads on the streets of São Paulo used flammable paint, made from potassium permanganate and sulfuric acid, to turn its vampire character portraits to ash when exposed to sunlight.

BBC Creative has also brought outdoor innovation to bear for other recent projects. The in-house agency created a His Dark Materials billboard in November 2019 that featured a warrior polar bear that seemed to breathe steam into the night air.

CREDITS:

BBC Creative
ECD: Helen Rhodes
Head of Planning: Mike Lean
Head of Production: James Wood
Creative Head: Olly Harnett
Creative: James Fairfield
Creative: Mathew Rees
Creative: Reuben Dangoor
Creative: Vikki Stephenson
Creative: Dominic Lea
Audio: Lewis Clark
Pictures: Victoria Dalton
Producer: Ivana Bohuslavova
Producer: Sophie Knott
Project Manager: Astrid Reiner
Planner: Sam Pavey
Design: Johnny Ace
Design: Amir Saidani
Design: Kieran Ahmed
Design: Geraint Williams
Editor: Thomas Ioannou
Editor: Chris Knox

BBC
Marketing Manager: Faye Jones
Marketing Executive: Lucy Hodson
Media Planning Lead: Marc Jones
Campaign Planner: Gemma Threlfall
Social Media Executive: Emily Mitchinson

Sound/Bark: Andy Humphreys
Stills Photographer: David Ellis

T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends and pop culture, brands and creativity.