Oh my! There goes Marilyn’s skirt.

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The smartest out of home campaigns take advantage of their surroundings and employ them to do something unexpected.

That’s certainly the case for a new digital ad on display in the New York City subway system that uses sensors to make it appear that a dress is being blown up by the passing trains.

This isn’t just any dress, though.

Lifetime says it’s the first marketer in the U.S. to use this audio-sensory technology in the MTA subway. It is reminiscent, of course, of the well-known Swedish subway ads for hair-care brand Apolosophy.

This is a dress worn by an actress made up as Marilyn Monroe.

The ad recreates the iconic scene in “Seven Year Itch” in which Monroe is standing on a subway grate. When the train arrives, it sends up a draft of air, and the skirt of her dress flies up around her.

That’s what appears to happen on the digital ads in the subway, too, thanks to new technology being used by Lifetime to promote its upcoming miniseries, “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.”

The campaign began earlier this month. The digital ads were deployed in eight subway stations across the city.

When there’s no subway around, there’s a digital image of Monroe, played by Kelli Garner, looking coy.

The action is triggered by audio sensors that pick up on the noise of the approaching train. When the poster senses the sound of a subway approaching, it triggers Monroe to begin looking to either side.

Finally, as the train pulls fully into the station, her skirt begins to rise. It looks as though the breeze from the approaching train is blowing the skirt up.

Within a few seconds, the skirt is flying up around Monroe, just as it did in “Itch,” and she unsuccessfully tries to smooth it down.

Lifetime says this is the first time the audio sensory technology has been used in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, thougha campaign last year in Sweden used similar technology for an ad in which a woman’s hair was “blown” by a passing subway.

The campaign works because it’s so imaginative. The connection between the draft blowing up the skirt and the arriving subway is obvious yet also amusing, and using new technology to play off the famous “Itch” scene is brilliant.

The stunt has already draw coverage on a number of blogs. The ads will continue to run through the end of the month.

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On May 22, 2015
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