Ray-Ban Hires Actors to Stop Traffic, Garner Attention

By Michael O'Connell July 2, 2008, 4:46 PM EDT

The group stared up at artist Ron English's six-story Ray- Ban billboard for 20 minutes before disbanding.

Photo: Jemal Countess

The best way to ensure people do something is to pay them for it. It worked for Ray-Ban on Tuesday when the company brought attention to its newly unveiled advertisements by sending 100 sunglasses-clad actors to a busy intersection to stop and stare at the billboard.

Word of an impending stunt gathered buzz in previous weeks when an ominous press release promised that Ray-Ban would stop traffic on July 1. And stop traffic it did. The guerilla team arrived south of Herald Square just after lunch, stopped in the middle of the crosswalk, and stood staring at the new billboard. Cars were gridlocked and eyes quickly turned from the frozen crowd to the object they were gazing at. Inspiration for the stunt came from the group Improv Everywhere, who famously sent 207 people to stand completely still in Grand Central Station in one of their many public pranks. Northbound traffic at the intersection of 31st Street and Sixth Avenue didn’t move for almost 20 minutes.

The billboard in question, the first of five unveiled yesterday, was designed by artist Ron English. Artists Tara McPherson, Scott Alger, Queen Andrea, and Toofly all contributed their talents to designing the four others stationed throughout Manhattan. All five billboards will be on display for the rest of the month.

The effort was just one part of “Project Colorize,” a joint venture between Marie Claire magazine and Ray-Ban to launch the new colors of the company's popular wayfarer line. To cap off the day of promotions, Ray-Ban threw a party at Henri Bendel. The department store currently features two prominent windows devoted to the new sunglasses.

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