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This Mazda Billboard Scans the Crowd to Keep a Tally of How Often the Car Literally Turns Heads

Is this Mazda billboard turning heads? You can count on it.

Installed on Monday in the retail concourse of Toronto’s Royal Bank Plaza, the digital sign, timed to the Canadian International Auto Show, plays a 15-second video that shows the sleek new MX-5 RF from various angles.

Custom software allows the ad to detect each time a passerby turns to gawk at the car, and the screen displays a running tally. In just two days, the “head count” approached 15,000.“The billboard uses a combination of crowd detection and facial recognition technology,” explains Ari Elkouby, creative director at J. Walter Thompson Canada, which developed the campaign with Excelerator Media, Pattison Onestop and Pattison’s interactive arm, Fourth Wall.

The software “identifies when someone is in the vicinity of the board and then verifies through a number of separate algorithms that a person has turned their head to towards our hidden camera,” Elkouby says. “To bring this idea to life, the video wall required a custom, industrial-grade computer upgrade that could process high-frame-rate video while rendering dynamic data in real-time.”

Part of a citywide out-of-home campaign, the sign will remain in place for a month. If the current pace holds, it could ultimately turn more than 150,000 heads.

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