Remember the first time you saw those odd Geico caveman commercials produced by The Martin Agency? I remember thinking that advertising was getting stranger and stranger because it had to in order to keep our attention. With the evolution of technology — cable, Internet, mobile devices and now, tablets — there’s clearly increased competition for consumer mindshare. As a result, it’s more challenging for agencies to create advertisements that resonate with customers. The name of the game is punching through the clutter of messaging and channels. Effectiveness of advertising is measured more easily now and agency performance is monitored far more closely.
Lately, I’ve been noticing a proliferation of lunchtime food trucks in New York. Food trucks have been around for a long time, but they served the standard fare of coffee and bagels, gyros, kabobs, and the design of the trucks essentially stated whatever was available. A few weeks ago, I saw what appeared to be a very long line of young people waiting to buy from a truck called “Feed Your Hole.” The design of the logo and truck itself was fresh and contemporary. The design even looked like a professional, studio solution. There are more and more of these trucks, all with irreverent names and quirky, unique brand designs.
What’s happening to advertising? It’s going rogue. Mad men of the 60′s had nothing on this new generation of “out-of-the-box-thinking” creative teams. And according to reports, it’s not just corporate maverick brands that are pioneering rogue creative methods; nonprofit organizations are jumping into the fray.
The Wall Street Journal weekend “Visualizer” section showcases the new book by Gavin Lucas, Guerrilla Advertising 2.
The book focuses on more than 60 campaigns that were deployed internationally, from an inflatable pig wedged between two skinny NYC buildings to advertise dental floss, to toe-tagged sun bathers basking in a park, with ads dangling from their toes that read, “Sun Kills.”
A few examples cited:
• (Below) Promotions in Atlanta to advertise a play about African-American barbershop culture featured giant combs placed into large shrubs around the city. In some instances, the combs were stolen, prompting local news coverage. As a result, the agency claims a 60% increase in sales of tickets.
• In London, an oversized sculpture of a woman lying on the sidewalk with her head stuck in a photo booth to promote a show about a tattoo parlor (the ad message was tattooed on her back). Also, the campaign featured a giant sculpture of a swimmer on a grassy lawn near Tower Bridge, his arms, head, and legs emerging from the soil as if he was swimming.
• A museum on the street? In London, the National Gallery hung 44 full scale, high resolution prints around the city using exact replica frames and information plaques, turning the entire city into a virtual “outdoor museum.”
• (Below) A campaign for a German employment website, Jobsintown, featured posters designed for the sides of vending machines. On each poster was an image of a worker in cramped space delivering the actual product being purchased — a woman with a washboard inside a washing machine, a banker crouched inside an ATM, a frozen worker dispensing the ice cream, and a musician inside a jukebox. The headline? “Life’s too short for the wrong job.”
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It’s not your father’s advertising environment anymore, pretty clearly. Those billboards with simple brand messaging are a fading, nostalgic memory. The new age of ad creative is exciting. As much as we hear about the technology, it’s interesting and fun to watch the creative concepting revolution that is also underway. Anything is possible, no idea too bizarre. I invite any shared, additional photos or descriptions of unusual ways to engage the customer. I’ll be happy to post them here.
All of this daring creative work is intended to break through, to be unique and distinct and memorable, and it got me thinking. I’ve decided that IridiumGroup should be the first to organize a “Branded Message” flash mob. Any client who is interested in pursuing this idea will get the initiative delivered “at costs to produce.” We’ll put together a plan, cast for it and script a flash mob performance that delivers the right corporate message in the right venues, at just the right times. The opportunities for earned media in desirable PR channels and viral brand-building are just one benefit in this new age of inventive marketing.
It’s never been done before to my knowledge. Imagine the possibilities, and then call me to discuss.