We all know that the power of advertising has shifted forever because of the current DVR and Internet age.
What I mean is that while advertisers still leverage traditional print and broadcast media options to reach target audiences, we (consumers) turn those ads off as often as possible. The Internet provides an entirely new channel of reaching us. But again, all it takes is one click to bypass that banner ad or video commercial. Doesn't it feel great to be in control?
Well, that may be a fleeting feeling. Some of the savvier marketers responded to this challenge. Over the last few years, they have leveraged many non-traditional, never before thought of (and some that are just a tad strange) mediums to present brands in an entirely new fashion. The kicker this time is that in all of these cases, consumers are once again captive audiences. So, that puts the power right back into the marketers hands. I'm really impressed with just how creative the marketing world has become. Many of these approaches smack you right in the face as you go about daily travel, work and personal routines. And, they definitely influence their target audiences, although I bet most wouldn't even know they are being marketed to. Here's a few I've experienced over the last few days that are worth noting:
* Airport security bins - As I went through the airport security line the other day in Newark Airport, I couldn't help but notice Zappos advertisements on the bottom of every single clothes/baggage bin. What really made me smile (though) is how the same ad showcases two colorful shoe prints (where participants were supposed to place their shoes). What a great way for Zappos to reach every person who needs to fly anywhere.
* Airline seat trays - I boarded my Continental flight and quickly realized that commercial marketing efforts weren't going to be limited to the in-flight magazine or videos. No, as I happened to look straight ahead to the folded up tray attached to the seat in front of me, a large offer from MasterCard stared me down. As much as I tried to look away, three hours later the ad was still squarely in front of me.
* Videos in elevators - Most higher-end commercial office buildings in New York City have installed video monitors in elevators where tenants, employees and anyone riding up and down can catch news tidbits and brief stories. Of course, every news story is surrounded by an advertisement that fully supports the topic being covered. Talk about a captive audience -- we're all stuck in the elevator with nothing else to look at or do.
* Supermarket carts - Who would ever have thought that supermarket chains could sell advertising on their carts the way newspapers do with their print editions? The other day, my cart (yes, I go food shopping every once in a while) had a large ad on the inside back of the cart for AMC movie theaters. After seeing this, I walked over to all the other carts to find out that at least 20 in a row showcased that same ad.
* Gas station pumps - Now, this is a new one that I couldn't even imagine could be real. But, it was. I went to pump my gas at a service station in Connecticut. Upon selecting my gas and picking up the pump, a McDonald’s advertisement appeared magically. Of course, this rest area included both McDonalds and Exxon/Mobil offerings. Talk about a real co-branded initiative.
* Toll plazas - That's right. I mean highway tolls. This week I was in Florida and saw any number of advertisements on the toll gate (Coca-Cola ad), actually on the toll booth (beneath the attendant) was a Florida orange juice ad (now, that makes sense). And, a sign running across the top of the entire toll booth area promoted some sort of Internet search engine.
I bet there are scores of other approaches that focus on captive audiences (too bad they don't actually captivate us, though) that should be mentioned in this post. I would love to hear any that you've experienced or heard of, as well.