Monday, April 12, 2010

Seeing the world through advertising-colored glasses

There are some of us on whom the innocent perspective of the mainstream consumer is long lost. When a Chef is out to eat, he won't see or taste food in the same way the average diner does. We in advertising don't see anything commercial through mainstream eyes either. We analyze what goes into things; the design, who paid for it, who might have created it, what font they used, how much money the photography cost, whether the production was in or out of town, and on and on. It might not all be conscious, but that's what we're thinking.

This makes life a little less magical, if a little more interesting, depending on one's point of view. What at first seems like a simple, scenic drive on the Florida Turnpike can turn into a veritable ad buffet. Billboards, trucking companies, vehicle wraps, license plates, toll metrics, road signs, it goes on and on. Opportunities are everywhere for the innovative advertiser to get in front of the unassuming consumer. 

Take the "your logo here" on the Adopt-a-Highway sign. Put your logo on a sign and agree to keep a 2-mile stretch of highway clean. Pick your stretch of Turnpike, even. "I'll take the really busy one by Orlando, please!" Passers-by will associate your company with being environmentally responsible, and more importantly, they will see, read, think your name every time they drive by it. 

It gets better. State Farm Insurance, in partnership with the FL Turnpike (and several U.S. highway authorities) operates a service providing free roadside assistance. Signs are everywhere letting you know. "Wow," a driver might think, "State Farm gives free roadside assistance! They are a caring and responsible company who is involved with our government. How trustworthy and official they must be." It might not be conscious, but that's what they're thinking.

What this really is, is smart advertising. It's sponsorship. According to Wikipedia, the free roadside assistance only covers stranded motorists on participating highways, if they call the designated telephone number (umm, that's not on the sign) and they respond to the following services: fuel refills, radiator refills, engine oil refills. What about flat tires? Engine trouble? Accidents? It probably doesn't matter because no one knows the number to call. State Farm gets a good deal out of this. They get a gagillion impressions per day and their expense is minimal, comparatively.

So next time you're driving or walking around, keep your eye out for the opportunity that isn't already taken. Where can you do some good publicly to raise your visibility, your reputation and your humanity-brownie-points? 


1 comment:

  1. You have to love and appreciate the though behind the State Farm ad gimmick. I can completely imagine the creator of this idea pitching it to the decision makers above.