Today I was having a drink at the Wicklow on False Creek. I visited the men’s room, and discovered this posted above the urinal (click to enlarge):
In case you can’t read the text:
Ninjas not your thing? Maybe it’s time to get a Big Brother for your son!
Big Brothers are:
Spend 2-4 hours a week hanging out and doing guy stuff with their Little Brothers.
Little Brothers are:
Are aged 7 – 14
Don’t have a positive male role model in their lives.
Just need a little guy time.
I tried to imagine a father thoughtfully musing to himself while micturating: “Hang on. I’m definitely not a positive male role model in my son’s life. After all, I’m down the pub instead of home playing with him. I need to call these people!” It seemed like the most misguided, laughably strange advertisement I’d seen in years. On top of its peculiar messaging, the pub was almost devoid of men, and full of middle-aged women.
It took me about an hour to realize that the poster had, in fact, been hung up in the wrong restroom.
Or possibly it was just somebody having a little fun.
I was getting off the SkyTrain today, and I noticed this note stuck to the route map above the door. It simply says “Save $$, DealByDay.com“. I gather that it’s one of a bunch of these (slightly parasitical) daily deal site aggregators–another is OneSpout.
That’s pretty much the cheapest advertising I can imagine. The creator was so economic, he didn’t bother to write out the word “money”.
I spotted this ad on a shopping cart at our local Save-on-Foods, and it struck me as rather baffling.
If we’re talking about ‘feel’, then paying with cash ‘feels’ more right to me. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the exchange of currency for goods and services seems far more natural than using a debit card.
Paying with cash is usually several times faster, less complicated, doesn’t produce any excess receipts or any additional banking fees. As far as I can figure, the only advantages of a debit card are the convenience and possible safety of not having to carry cash. The ad ought to emphasize those benefits, instead of a vague promise and a yellow armored car (short bus, anyone?).
You can almost hear the ad agency throwing up their hands and saying “frack it, I’m out of ideas, let’s just go with ‘it feels right’.”
Out of curiousity, do Save-on-Foods and other retailers prefer that I pay with cash or debit card? I assume the latter, because of the overhead around managing hard currency, but I don’t really know. Are any readers retail-enabled enough to know?
I’ve written before about the incursion of advertising into new public (if privately-owned) spaces. The most recent example was video screens in the back seats of taxis. The other day I was having dinner at the old-school-in-a-charming-way Hamilton Street Grill in Yaletown. I went to the bathroom, and looked up at the mirror while washing my hands.
The whole mirror was turned into an advertising display. Sections of the mirror displayed a series of static slide images that culminated in an ad for Absolut vodka:
I know I sound like an eighty-year-old curmudgeon, but really? The bathroom mirror? This–along with the aforementioned taxi cab screens and video ads above urinals–are particularly frustrating because they’re forced, at closed range, right into my eye line. They are difficult to ignore.
They’re a heinous and idiotic intrusion, particularly when I’ve already paid for dinner or a cab ride. Such advertising only encourages me to not only boycott the products advertised, but also the business that shows me the ads.
The target demographic for these commercials is surely wives and girlfriends. The cliche here is the wife sitting beside her husband on the couch, a little bored as she half-watches LePeiter pass to Huckenchuck and go offside. Then she immediately perks up when Doctor McDreamy or whatever his frackin’ nickname is shows up on-screen.
The ad’s subtext is simple: “Buy this for your man, and he’ll be slightly more similar to Patrick Dempsey”. That’s fair enough–ads employ aspirational messages all the time. That doesn’t make the ad or the product line any less ridiculous. L’Oreal for Men? Seriously? This is one wrong-headed brand extension.
On the other hand, this excellent Old Spice commercial seems to intentionally spoof the Dempsey ads. And I think, given its mix of hunk and humour, it’s going to reach both people on the couch:
“If he stopped using lady-scented body wash, he could smell like he’s me.” Bonus points for the subtle reference to the SNL digital short, “I’m on a Boat” (rated PG for cuss words).
Mathew twittered about this iMedia Connection article by Robert Moskowitz the other day, and it piqued my interest. Its thesis is that because offline advertising costs a lot more than online advertising, it must be much more valuable:
According to Michael Hirschorn, for example, writing in the January/February issue of The Atlantic magazine, “Already, most readers of The [New York] Times are consuming it online. The Web site… boasted an impressive 20 million unique users for the month of October… The print product, meanwhile, is sold to a mere million readers a day and dropping….
“The conundrum, of course, is that those 1 million print readers … are worth about five figures a page to advertisers, [and] are far more profitable than the 20 million unique Web users, who… could support only 20 percent of the [newspaper's] current staff…”
The article goes on to cite a bunch of ad executives as they opine on the differences between the two landscapes. There’s a great deal of hedging of bets, lingo and hand-wringing about the state of the industry. What’s illustrative, I think, is how little discussion there is of actual measurement.
Measure, Measure, Measure
We aggressively discourage our clients from spending a cent on advertising that they can’t measure. And I’m not talking about the invented metrics of the ad industry–”brand impression” is a synonym for “might have vaguely glanced at your billboard on the subway”–but actually measuring actions that potential customers may take. This limits their offline advertising options, but if you can’t measure outcomes, why throw money at it?
I was holding forth on this measuring theme at a little brainstorming session for Hollyhock, an extraordinary retreat centre on Cortes Island. It’s the answer I always give to busy marketers who say “I’m already swamped, how do I do this social media marketing stuff, too?” I tell them that they don’t necessarily have to. They just need to analyze the value of all the work they do, add social media stuff to the mix, and see what’s most valuable. If your billboards outperform your Twitter account, then stick with what works.
Speaking of advertising, I read a couple interesting posts on TechCrunch over the past couple of days about the state of the industry. First, it’s shocking to see how rapidly the newspaper industry’s revenue base has declined. The rate of newspaper advertising decline has been accelerating for the last six quarters. Likewise, that article points out that online advertising has declined slightly over 2008.
The first time I saw an LCD display built into the back seat of a taxi cab, it was last New Years Eve in Mahattan. It mostly ran advertising, with intermittent weather reports and news clips. At the time, I wondered how long it would be before I saw them in BC. The answer, it turns out, is about four months.
This latest intrusion was in the back seat of a Vancouver Taxi cab. The company that offers them is Moving Media Group, a Vancouver-based company that specializes in digital screens in cabs. The screens have apparently been in operation since last November.
In my taxi, the screen replaced the headrest on the passenger side front seat. The unit is actually surprisingly thick (here’s a side view), and with the seat reclined, the screen really imposed itself on my field of view. In New York, the display was built into the back of the cab’s front bench seat. Its commercials had audio, which (thus far, at least) my Vancouver cab didn’t. As in New York, the content seemed like it was mostly advertising combined ‘breaking news’ headlines and weather updates.
Dumb Display Ads
Does anybody not find this development totally egregious? In an age where marketers and media companies are re-evaluating the fundamental efficacy of ‘dumb’ display ads, why introduce yet another distraction engine into the consumer’s view? Does the Moving Media Group imagine that we don’t yet have enough commercials and advertisements in our daily life?
Besides, I’m already paying the driver to take me from Point A to B. I’m not paying for the privilege of watching ads for the balance of my journey.
A couple of years ago I went to the bathroom in a pub. Stepping up to the urinal, I looked up to see a video display showing a beer commercial. Increasingly, we’re ceding space to useless, ineffectual advertising. This trend is particularly offensive where, in places like pubs, hockey arenas and taxis, we’re already paying for a service. Shouldn’t we be able to enjoy the experience of, say, riding in a cab or micturating without the intrusion of a commercial?
I touched the screen (I know, kind of gross, no?) only once. Following instructions, I touched the “Touch for Menu” button at the bottom of the screen. And I apparently broke the thing:
In the next couple of months, I’m giving three talks to different groups associated with post-secondary education. In preparing these speeches, I was doing research into Facebook’s market penetration among BC’s teens.
As you may know, Facebook’s advertising program lets you thin-slice your target audience in all sorts of interesting ways–gender, age, location even specific interests or workplaces. I created a query that indicated that I could reach 344,860 British Columbians between the age of 15 to 19. I take this to mean that there are 344,860 profiles matching that criteria on Facebook.
Curious to see what percentage of all BC teens this was, I checked the BC government’s stats for the current population of teens aged 15 to 19 in the province. They reported 287,444. I took screenshots of the two sources:
That means that there are 1.2 profiles on Facebook for every BC teen. Is that possible? Probably. After all, I recently read that 99% of the 2012 class at Amherst College had a Facebook profile. I suppose that if 20% of teens created two profiles, they’d generate these results.
And I remember reading some of danah boyd’s (lower case capitalization hers) research that indicates that teens discard unwanted profiles frequently, and often create several on a given social network.
In any case, isn’t this kind of false advertising from Facebook? The most teens an advertiser could possibly reach in BC is all of them: 287,444 in 2008, a few more in 2009.