Open Letter to Ad Execs re: windorphins

12 09 2007

This is a post that most surely will be edited, revised, re-written, added on to, addendum-ed, fixed, etc. in the months to come. Basically, this was the catch-all title for my rants on different topics. Today’s topic (well, I’ve been thinking about it for the last few days) is advertising on the MTA, or the New York City Subway.

So let’s begin with what I, and no doubt everyone around me on the subway, hate. WHY oh why is every inch of most trains covered in the exact same ad? Just yesterday I rode on the Justin Timberlake train, followed by the Budweiser train, and then finally the hated Windorphins train.

windorph_subway.jpgSeriously, I hate these Windorphins. No idea what they are, and don’t want to know (although if you do, fellow blogger Syposphere did some research). I just want them gone.

I would probably be hooked, or interested, if the ad wasn’t played to death all over the train. Maybe one ad on the train, maybe two to be sure and cover most of the car. But every single panel? What is the advantage of that? Haven’t any of you ever ridden on the train for more than 5 minutes? You do a lot of looking around, and not just at the people (that gets creepy fast) you really DO look at the ad panels. So change it up a bit (and not just the already annoying copy).

But note what I said there – I DO look at the ads. I do notice them. So the Subway is a good place for ads – no, its a great place for ads. There I am, stuck in a train, listening to some music and just looking around for a good 30 minutes. I am ready to be inundated with advertising messages. But for the love of Mike Staub can you make them interesting? (or at least humorous, as this was)

It’s incredible (but not necessarily surprising) to me when a singular individual, with a tiny tiny ad budget, does better advertising than most professionals in the subway. A few days ago someone had posted their rap group’s flyer over the Justin Timberlake ads. All the flyer included was the name of the group, a website, and then the copy: “(famous rapper) would approve!”

That was it. Was it great advertising? No. Do I remember the group name or the website. No. But someone probably did, and it cost them nothing to make a few hundred paper copies of their flyer. I wish I had taken a picture to provide.

So what can a company do to make an impact in the MTA. Well, a long long while ago I covered a great example of just that (read that post here). The short answer is, make the experience memorable, make it innovative, or give the commuters something to smile about and take with them the rest of their day. ANY of those would work, and a combination just makes it better. And none of those are particularly hard with some thinking.

So don’t just take the JT ad from the magazine, stretch it to fit the subway panel, then send it out. Nope, that sucks.

Instead, create a new concept for this media, base it on the same big idea and appearance, and send it out.ds-subway.jpg Or, if you are going to completely inundate subway riders with your ad content, make it interactive. I was riding yesterday and thinking…what if Allstate replaced subway seats with giant hands…”you’re in good hands…” Run that for a month on a few select train cars, get people laughing, giggling, taking and sending their friends pictures. Then, when the event is over, put brand new benches in the hands’ place. This provides a lasting benefit for the riders – and believe me they won’t quickly forget that.

And yeah, you are going to weird some people out. You might annoy some. But as long as your advertising isn’t inherently annoying like the windorphins, you are good in my book.

Or how about a ski mountain ad running above the swinging hand holds over the seats? Unlucky people who are stuck holding them will appear to be taking a ride up to the top of a mountain. Have I designed it? No, but someone can. Replace the handles with ski grips and you are good to go. A water skiing school or wakeboard gear shop could benefit from this idea as well.

As an industry, we should be working towards making people’s days happier, more enjoyable. Call it a rosy view, but if we all had that as one of our goals, I believe we would be more successful.

I guess the best place to start is getting rid of those damn windorphins.

More links to come over at the scary basement.

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4 responses

12 09 2007
Sorry eBay! « How to Not Get a Job in Advertising

[…] 12 09 2007 So as a dedicated eBay user, I feel really bad that I ripped their windorphins campaign a new one. But come on it really is annoying and […]

17 09 2007
OK eBay, You Win! « How to Not Get a Job in Advertising

[…] eBay, You Win! 17 09 2007 So after I thrashed eBay’s windorphins campaign here and then posted some good old eBay campaigns here, I went over to my good buddies at Agency Spy and […]

2 10 2007
Open Letter to Ad Execs, re: TV Sponsorships « How to Not Get a Job in Advertising

[…] installment, on eBay’s “windorphins” and advertising on the NYC Subway, click here. Today, I’m going to tackle TV content sponsorships: where they are now, and where I think […]

26 11 2007
Total Gibberish and the Geniuses that Use It « How to Not Get a Job in Advertising

[…] Does it sell more food? I’m really not sure. But they have created a buzz-worthy character with little to no spending. They could have wasted all their money on a stupid billboard or an ad in the paper. Heck, they could have really beat their marketing campaign to death and posted ads inside the Subway. […]

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