Billboards can be traced back to the invention of lithography in 1796 in the form of illustrated posters. By the late 1800s, billboards were used to promote everything from traveling circuses to global exhibitions. Even in today’s high-tech age of social media, billboards can still be a cost-efficient way to get a message to the masses. While technology has evolved, one thing remains constant: successful advertising involves well-executed creativity. Here are some of the most creative and effective billboards from around the world:

United States: iPod and iTunes

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, the message is that all the entertainment you used to consume separately can now be stored and enjoyed on an iPod—and you can get more from iTunes. This giant billboard uses a strong visual to get a single point across. The message is simple, clear, and effective.

Canada: Black Tower Home Security

An effective Billboard doesn’t have to only use words and images to get its point across. Case in point is this 10×20 ft. Billboard for Black Tower security. Several common household items, including cookware, pillows and paintings, were placed on the billboard on a Friday. By the time the weekend was over, all the items were gone and a previously hidden message was revealed informing passersby that “people steal,” thus the need for home security.

Indonesia: Panasonic Nose Hair Trimmer

Once again illustrating the need to be creative, this Billboard for a Panasonic nose hair trimmer uses natural “props” to attract attention. In this case, the billboard is strategically placed on a power line to create an effective illusion.

United Kingdom: the Economist

Drumming up business for a newspaper through a billboard isn’t an easy task. This creative ad for the Economist, an award-winning UK-based newspaper, proves that such a task is still attainable if you’re creative enough. Using a large, dark light bulb against a red background with the name of the newspaper in the corner, this seemingly simple billboard has a unique twist. Thanks to special sensors, the light bulb turns on when someone walks directly under it.

New Zealand: Sky Discovery Channel

This turbine-powered billboard for the Discovery Channel is a large-scale replica of a real working circuit board. Once the battery is fully charged, all parts of the billboard light up, including the Discovery logo. By repurposing a typical billboard, this high-tech ad becomes instantly captivating and effective.

Every effective business has effective advertising. From global giants like ACN, to smaller national chains, and even area-specific businesses. If you’re seeking success, take some advice from these companies and devise some advertising that will truly stand out.