Thursday, July 21, 2005

Eye Catching Ads

Someone once said to me "There is no bigger waste of creative talent in this world than the advertising industry." While I do love creative ad campaigns, especially ones that are actually tied to a decent product, I still agree with him. As a society we spend way too much money slanging crap people don't need.

However, I do acknowledge that companies face somewhat of a prisoner's dilemma. If even one company is marketing and advertising their products aggressively, then others will have to engage in similar activities if they hope to remain competitive. Unfortunately, marketing in its basic form does work. But now, the flood of ads that bombard consumers every day basically ensure only one thing - that every single ad is diluted in its effectiveness. Now it almost seems that it isn't advertising that works, it is lack of advertising that hurts. If you aren't keeping up with the Jones', you'll likely be left behind and pushed out of the consciousness of your consumers.

That is why it takes such a concentration of brain power and creativity to craft campaigns that can cut through the clutter. Most campaigns fail to do this, but the ones that do offer the promise of increased revenue and profits for their clients. Of course, that just lures more companies to spend even more money on advertising and marketing . . . and the vicious cycle continues. (I wonder if we'd actually get better products from companies if the only thing they had to stand on was their product reputation and not their carefully crafted image)

That being said, when you do come across a smart and eye-catching ad - it almost becomes noteworthy in itself. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of advertising efforts, which also makes them more sensitive to tuning them out. However, this means that these discerning consumers will appreciate a well-crafted ad even more - because they can recognize its superiority to the garbage that fills the marketplace. They'll applaud the creativity of the ad as much as they will be engaged by its message.

All that was a long introduction to a very smart billboard ad for suntan lotion featured on Things Magazine that both crafts an effective message and actually has something to do with the product. The billboard is made of tiny pegs that cast shadows when the sun is out to reveal the image on the billboard.

So basically, it is creative billboards like this that ensure we'll continue seeing billboards for the rest of our lives - even though these are the exception and not the rule.

A Daily Dose links to two great examples of artists playing with the impact billboards can have - one in which the artists covers the billboards from an entire cityscape and another in which the artist erases the cityscape and leaves behind only the billboards and ads.

Not too sure what the point of all this was, just thought it was some interesting stuff to marinate on for a minute. I wonder what it was even like to live before the Age of the Advertising and the dawn of The Brand. Easier on the eyes I bet.

Note: An addition to this post - apparently a group in Canada wants to put a tax on billboard advertising that will help fund public art projects. Now THAT is a great idea that helps balance the aesthetic eyesore that a city full of billboards creates.

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