Sunday, December 11, 2011

If the medium is the message, what's this?

         Yesterday morning on BART, the rapid transit system here in San Francisco, I noticed a poster for That's the home delivery department of the supermarket chain. What a good idea!

          It seems like the perfect way to reach an audience that either doesn't own cars or prefers not to drive. Except for the fact that the poster was so bad most riders won't notice it.

          Using the right media at the right time is always a challenge. When I supervised the advertising for General Motors' Delco batteries, we had ads ready and on standby at about 650 Northern newspapers. We scheduled them to run on the first morning the temperature would go down to 20 degrees. Sold a ton of batteries at the end of a tow rope.

           A few years later I got Gatorade to try the same thing, only on the first day the temperature was predicted to go over 90 degrees. The supermarkets got on board and put up case stackers that morning, and loved the results.

           When I was teaching a special graduate advertising course at Michigan State (I was the V.A.P. --- the visiting advertising professional), I ran into this media challenge again. A student was upset because in another class, the professor trashed her media idea.

            Her assignment was to promote an all-rock radio station that had an ad budget of only $2,000. Her idea was to promote a poster contest on the station, and spend the budget posting the winning design wherever rock music was sold. Her professor said she should've spread the budget around. I said she was brilliant. She went right to where the potential listeners are.

             Today, of course, social media plays a major role, and that student could've been doing things on fan groups and creating an inexpensive viral video that would have created free publicity that would snowball. Example: Lady Gaga's fans sending in videos of themselves singing her latest hit, and the best edited together on YouTube.

             Of course, you have to do everything well. No one responds to a bad ad. And as I point out to my classes, a bad ad costs as much as a good ad.

              A cool media plan can make the results multiply. Have some Gatorade and go at it.


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