Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cookies, grass, and other stuff: giving 'multimedia' a whole new meaning

Whether digital or not, alternative out-of-home formats are exploding as advertisers try to catch consumers during those few precious minutes between work and home (or anywhere and home, for that matter), when their guards might be down and they might be a little bit more receptive to viewing ads.

So aside from digital, what other kinds of things fall under the 'alternative' umbrella, you ask? Well, a few recent ad campaigns were highlighted in the New York Times and other media for their uniqueness, always creative, though not always directed entirely at a point-of-sale:

My favorite involve unusual sites and familiar materials. One was a giant Oreo cookie decal on the side of a glass elevator that dunked into a giant decal of a glass of milk on the exterior of the bottom. The giant dunking Oreo is gone now, but the You Tube video is still popular.

Another great example is from Wimbledon, where the firm J. Walter Thompson hired UK-based artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey to create grass portraits of three figures in the tennis world. The process involves exposing the seeds to different amounts of light in order to get shadings of green, creating a kind of negative effect, varied by the length of the grass. The campaign originally involved planting grass in other sites (bus stations) to highlight Wimbledon’s uniqueness, but the company ended up using artificial turf (which, of course, is precisely what’s NOT in Wimbledon). Either way, the portraits have gotten Ackroyd and Harvey some attention and while it may not have directly increased revenue for the tournament, it did put it back in the news.

The Times also noted Papa John's giant pizza construction, which is designed to bring attention to their new whole wheat crust. While I think giant food is always fun, I'm not sure it's in the best taste at the moment, where people are beginning to strain to fill their supermarket carts.

For some other companies, it’s not about where the ad is placed or how it’s constructed, but the stories being told. Using a format similar to “This American Life,” KeyBank is running a new version of testimonial ads that are designed to encourage people to figure out how to manage your money. In a timely fashion, one ad features an animated video voiced over by U.S. Olympic swimmer Diana Munz who tells how she decided where to keep her gold medal:

As she tells her story, animation depicts her storing the medal in a clam, à la a pearl, putting the clam in a blowfish and having the blowfish swallowed by a secure steel whale. Instead, she opts to put it in a KeyBank safe deposit box. Other spots depict a man's decision-making process on how to finance a home remodel, and another family's work to create college savings funds.
All three of these campaigns do something unique, but all three tell a story, whether it’s a short familiar one (Oreo into milk) or a more complicated one (taking care of you money), it’s all about using different tactics to engage the jaded viewer.

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