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12 Digital Billboard Fails

Designed to attract customers and consumers alike, billboards are advertising at their brashest and most brazen. Nothing says ‘look at me!’ more than a 50ft high sign on the side of a building or alongside a highway. There’s little room for failure with a traditional print billboard, so thank technology for these epic digital billboard fails.

1. A Haunting Display


The moon’s broken!

One foggy night in Odessa, Ukraine a savvy snapper saw an ethereal apparition looming through the trees. At first they mistook this spooky spirit for the ghost of Windows 95, but on further inspection realised that it was just a digital billboard that had crashed. Here’s how it should have looked:


Ukraine is haunted by many ghost billboards. Source

2. Visual Virus

manhattan-brokenDamn pop-ups. Source

Manhattan is the heart of the bustling metropolis that is New York, ‘the city that never sleeps’. Unfortunately for the advertisers who run the gigantic digital billboard above the Manhattan Port Authority Bus Terminal, somebody must have been snoozing because it looks like they forgot to update their anti-virus software.

manhattanThis is how it should have looked. Dull. Source

3. Ikea Internet Incident


They should try turning it off and then on again. Source

You’re happily surfing the internet when suddenly you get the dreaded ‘page cannot be displayed’ error message. It’s an inconvenience. It usually requires you to simply restart your router or wiggle your LAN cable. What is a minor annoyance for you, probably cost somebody their job at the East Palo Alto Ikea store. It is satisfying to know that even big businesses have shoddy internet connections.

4. CHKDSK/Fail


Just DOSsing about at the train station. Source

If you ever see a screen like this you know there’s something to worry about. Modern computing means that you never have to leave the safety of your friendly Windows operating system (or whatever cat OS mac is currently running). So if you see anything that resembles a DOS or BASIC screen, it’s time to call technical support.

5. Israel Fail

billboard-brokenLuckily nobody was paying attention to this screen. Source

Error messages can strike anywhere in the world. This digital billboard in Israel is supposed to be selling profitable products to the citizens of Tel Aviv. Instead it’s just an advertisement showing the problems that a Windows operating system can have.

6. Losing The Race

sprint-brokenNo you can’t. Source

Sprint are the third largest phone company in the Untied States and they probably won’t be taking second anytime soon with advertising fails like this. If the entire purpose of your advert is to show off how well your product works, it’s probably best to check it does first.

7. Down The Tube

digital-screen-brokenThis is the Matrix. Source

Around 3 and a half million people use the London Underground every day. This makes it an excellent place for advertising and accordingly the cost to place your adverts there is pretty high. A broken digital screen on the underground is a great way to waste money.

8. Hack Attack!


Cellphones can be hazardous to your health. Source

In 2008, street artist and computer hacker, Skullphone, managed to hack a Los Angeles advertisement billboard. Displaying his trademark tag, he usurped its intended purpose of commerce with his artistic vision.

hack-broken-2See evil. Speak evil. Hear evil. Source

But to most LA residents it was probably just another portent of the apocalypse.


9. Piccadilly Problem

coca-cola-brokenIt’s not always Coca-Cola. Source

Piccadilly Circus is famous for its advertising screens and the Coca-Cola advert (or a version of it) has been displayed there since the 1970s. So the obscuring of this historic sign by a Windows error message is quite a momentous occasion for the casual onlooker and a slightly embarrassing one for Coca-Cola.

10. PSPoor

psp-brokenDoes this mean PSPs can dual boot? Source

Sony purportedly spent millions developing their custom operating system for the PSP. So it must have been quite galling to see their custom built advertising screens promoting Windows. Especially an outdated version such as 2000. That’s just embarrassing.

pspThere’s no use smiling. It’s broken. Source

Apparently this problem happened numerous times, proving that Windows 2000 was really terrible.

psp-broken-2This is not a useful promotional tool. Source

11. Twitter Terrors

twitter-brokenDon’t trust the locals. Source

These are the ‘Monsters of Monroeville’. Not really, these are in fact Alabama’s leading local news team, who discovered the pitfalls of having a digital display linked to a live Twitter feed. Juxtaposition can be a powerful tool. After this incident WPMI-TV, the company responsible for the billboard, suspended its general manager and news director.


12. First American Fail

first-american-failWould be very old by now. Source

Even before the days of digital displays, technology still found a way to fail. Although whether this is an accident or the work of a merry prankster is open to contention. Either way I’m sure the customers of First American Title were at least mildly amused at this error.



That’s a weird thing to sell. Source

Even Print media can be affected by the digital age. Here we see what happens if your sign printer relies on Babelfish too heavily.


A video fail showing you what the world would be like if your computer was linked to a gigantic screen outside of your apartment. For one thing, you’d be a lot more careful about what you searched for.