Everyone is going on and on about the power of digital. While we admit that online campaigns have a huge impact on business, there’s still plenty of room for traditional advertising.
There’s something about an ad that you can see, smell, touch, and enjoy in open air that goes beyond the convenience of swiping a 5-inch screen. Not convinced? Let’s look at a few eye-catching media campaigns from the recent past.
The Star Wars revival is fully on, and every toddler with a screen knows what a light saber is. So yes, it’s cool to have an app that shoots fire and psychedelic light out of someone’s eyeballs.
It would be even more effective with eerie sound effects, and imagine the joy of replacing the visage in the ad with your own! But let’s face it. After you’ve shared the gif on your Facebook wall and everyone has mimicked it on Snapchat, you would lose interest. It’s a fad that would last a day at best.
Now, picture that campaign as part of the signage at a bus stop. It’s not a meme that makes you giggle, click share, and promptly forget. It’s a piece of visual outdoor art that sticks in your mind because every time you take the bus, you see it. You can get up close, touch it, take a selfie with it, interact with it.
The ad in question is by real estate broker Patricia Houlihan, and in the ad, she literally shoots lasers out of her eyes. Eyes that seem to follow you around the bus shelter. And yes, the ad did eventually make its way online, with Redditors trolling it and offering clever alternate captions.
The meme spent some time doing the rounds, but the physical target audience, the home buyers within Patricia’s territory, they were more struck by the physical ad. We’re sure it made an impact on the volume of customer phone calls.
For our next example, we’ll see how sometimes, the digital world and the real world dissect. Most of us are addicted to our phones, and we forget to look up and smell the flowers. Even when we’re browsing a showroom with some of the most powerful vehicles in the world, we’re still glued to our screens.
Audi was hosting an Auto Show in New York, and it wanted consumers to interact with the cars, touch the plush seats, place their palms on the steering wheel, check out the grills on the wheels, or at the very least, take a selfie with the latest coupe.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t get mobile users off their phones long enough to smell the new leather. So they did the next best thing. They offered free WiFi, to make sure prospects spent more time in the showroom. But here’s the catch. Every WiFi name was an Audi ad, so as the phone users hunted for signal, they got a subtle prompt to get off the phone and into an Audi.
While this is technically a digital campaign, it utilised the outdoor dynamic of the car show, and we’re pretty sure it got a few customers to ignore their phones for a few seconds and spot a hot car. Another example of fusing outdoor and digital is the interactive Reebok Poster in Stockholm. The electronic sign challenged passers-by to sprint past it, and if they surpassed 17kph, they could get a free pair of running shoes!
This ad worked because it jump-started observers out of the usual passive sedentary mode. They had to stop looking and start running. And even if they didn’t participate, the people watching got some free entertainment that seared the brand into their minds. Plus, lots of them took phone videos which they later shared, offering additional free media for the brand.
You might have heard the joke about how ancient Egyptians worshipped their cat gods through statues, while 21st-century citizens worship our own cat gods through Lolcats and YouTube clips. If ever you needed proof, it’s when strangers donated thousands of pounds to a Kickstarter Fund whose aim to take over every ad spot in the London Underground … and fill it with cats.
Not real cats. Pictures of cats. Highly stylised pictures of cats. And they didn’t even want you to buy anything. They just wanted you to look at pictures of cats. Sounds a lot like the Feline Overlords are unhappy with capitalism. And yes, proceeds did go towards cat rescue shelters.
In the advertising world, digital displays don’t have to compete against analogue ones. They can work together to create amazing campaigns like the ones listed above. Only time and inspired agency thinking will show how far this collaboration can go.