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How a hair-raising billboard aims to beat cancer

An interactive billboard in a Stockholm subway reacts in a most striking way to deliver its message whenever a train arrives.

The ad starts out like any other. YouTube screenshot/CNET

A clever hair-care ad in Sweden that "blew" people away earlier this year has been repackaged to raise awareness about cancer.

For Apolosophy's shampoo ad, agency Akestam Holst rigged up sensors to a Raspberry Pi computer and linked it to a billboard that featured a woman's head. When the sensors picked up an approaching train in the subway tunnel, they triggered a video, which showed her hair blowing as if in response to the rush of air that arrived with the subway cars .

Now, that ad has been tweaked by another ad agency called Garbergs to help in the fight against cancer.

The new ad works the same way technologically, but instead of just watching hair whoosh around fabulously, there's a surprise ending that truly stops people in their tracks, as you can see in the video below.

The ad campaign ran over a weekend in Stockholm's Odenplan station. People's reactions to the billboard were videotaped in the hopes that the video would go viral and bring awareness of the need to support the Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation. With over 15,000 views so far in its first two days on YouTube, the video, entitled "A Hair-Raising Message," may be on its way.

And what about one ad agency stealing another's concept? I asked Sedir Ajeenah, a copywriter at Garbergs, that question. He said it wasn't as much theft as cooperation.

"We're friends with the people at Akestam Holst," he told me. "The ad industry in Sweden isn't that big, you know."