One of my biggest realizations on my recent trip to New York was that Times Square is a monster of a place where traditional vinyl billboards fight for visibility with flashing, ever-changing digital versions. Both ad formats are all crammed together into such a relatively small space that it's a wonder that anything really stands out at all.
Billboards in L.A. are generally much more spread out and catch your eye much easier as they make the skyline more interesting, whilst in New York the advertisements even have to battle with the very architecture of the buildings which have much more scale, design and diversity.
Another thing you don't see so much of in Los Angeles is billboards for musicals, whilst along broadway and around Times Square you can't move without being assaulted with countless invitations to see new and favourite shows.
One of the more surprising musicals on offer has to be the new Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark production, which surely must be the first ever superhero musical based on an established comic book character.
In addition to comics, there are also TV shows being adapted for the stage, like The Addams Family, which has the fantastic Bebe Neuwirth ('Lilith' in Frasier), perfectly cast as 'Morticia Addams'.
Another billboard which caught my eye was this festive version for the musical adaptation of the movie Elf, my favourite Christmas movie, although I'm not sure if anyone could possibly capture the childlike innocence of Will Ferrell as 'Buddy'.
It was also a nice treat to see my former neighbour, Bernadette Peters, staring down on me from this billboard for A Little Night Music, with Elaine Stritch in Times Square.
Above those Broadway Divas was a billboard for Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, an all male version of the classic ballet story.
It was also great to be reminded the big star names you can see in Broadway show, such as Frasier's Kelsey Grammer, Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes (from TV's Will & Grace).
Luckily I got to see a matinee performance of Promises Promises and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Movie & TV billboards
Just like with L.A. there also seemed to be some prime sites in Manhattan for some spectacular billboards, like this 'Trust No One' Harry Potter 7 movie creative.
Plus there were lots of other billboards for The Deathly Hallows on New York's streets.
This wraparound billboard for the sci-fi movie Skyline stood out, even if the movie is a bit disappointing and lacking in plot. Having said that it only cost around $10 million to make, so maybe I judged it too harshly (although a bad film is still a bad film).
There was also this billboard for new television comedy following the adventures of college freshmen, Glory Daze.
In the run up to the holidays, there was a smattering of alcohol billboards enticing you to have a drink, including these colorful Skyy Vodka kinky boots creatives that have also been seen in L.A.
Maker's Mark had a visible presence in the city skies, with this dazzling jewel-encrusted whisky bottle billboard near Times Square and clever side-by-side Deja Vu campaign near the West Village.
Svedka Vodka's oddly seductive robot could also be seen on the rooftops in the Meatpacking District from the High Line Park.
Plus this more traditional Glenmorangie Scotch Whisky billboard.
Bacardi was also out in force around the city, like this billboard in Times Square. I like this creative execution using different coloured Barcadi logos to form the main picture.
If you're not a drinker and prefer something a little softer you can drink your way to the top with a Diet Coke in the city that never sleeps.
Or grab a festive Ginger Ale (maybe with a splash or two of vodka to make the holidays even more merry).
After living in shorts and a t-shirt for the majority of the year in California, it was strange to spend time in fashionable New York, where the dress code seemed to be stylish black and grey. Or if you were younger, as dramatic and individual as possible to stand out from the crowds.
Luckily there were a few billboards where less is more (less clothes that is), although Cristiano Ronaldo and the Hugo Boss male underwear model didn't seem too bothered by the November chill.
Mad Men's Christina Hendricks looked suitably foxy and chic in this billboard for London Fog.
Whilst the Buffalo brand reached for the sky to stand out from the hordes of other fashion billboards.
We just missed the New York Marathon, but I really liked this billboard for athletic brand Asics, especially now that I'll be running the L.A. Marathon in March 2011. If you look closely you'll see that the runners are sweating off word like misery, doubt and fatigue, and having run two half marathons now, I totally get the emotional sentiment behind this ad.
Aside from the musical, drinks, fashion and movie billboards there were also other fun examples for food, gaming, technology and travel. I just had to snap this fun Pop Tarts billboard featuring the Statue of Liberty.
I also thought this billboard for the Mexico tourist board was original and also used the shape of the building to great effect.
This colourful billboard for digital advertising brand, Interclick, also stood out.
Finally, this console game billboard for Call of Duty: Black Ops had real impact on New York's busy streets.
It really was a refreshing change to see billboards amongst all those skyscrapers in such a densely populated area, compared to sprawling, low-level L.A.
If you like these, be sure to check out Daily Billboard this week for even more great ad creatives from New York every day...