Does a Brand Blast Work?

You’ve probably already heard about this stuff: Pizza Hut has made a deal in which the company has purchased, for an undisclosed sum, one whole side of the next Russian space shuttle to be sent into orbit, the investment ensuring that Pizza Hut’s advertised message will be seen across the planet; in San Francisco, private vehicles can be plastered with product messages, earning the cars’ owners yearly fees for accommodating the advertising; and in Tokyo, Yahoo has mounted advertisements on the dark walls of the city’s subway tunnels. As the light from the speeding trains illuminates the tunnel walls, passengers are treated to animated messages, the windows revealing frame-by-frame illustrations that the eye interprets as moving images.

Such canvases are the result of the marketer’s increasingly fraught search for unclaimed advertising territory. This alternative real estate offers its residents unencumbered occupation, being untouched by any previous advertising, and garners the fresh attention of its audience, surprised as it is to find marketing messages in unexpected quarters.

This trend is building as TV ratings are falling. The Sydney 2000 Olympics, lauded by IOC Chief Juan Antonio Samaranch as the most successful Olympics ever held, also gave NBC the dubious distinction of having achieved the network’s lowest viewer ratings in decades.

Why were the NBC ratings so dismal? Not because of a lack of interest in the events being televised, but because of the style of their coverage. The viewing public is expecting more from the media than monologue and commentary. Competing with interactive expectations is a tough call for broadcasters.

And let’s be mindful of this interesting fact: Television advertising has been developing for more than half a century, and consumer interest in it has taken that long to start declining. Internet advertising banner ads, click-throughs, and direct emails has weathered only five years of consumer tolerance, and already its effectiveness has declined. In fact, from the day Internet advertising was introduced to a skeptical user audience, it has faced declining consumer attention.

And, unfortunately, we’re likely to see wireless Internet marketing face the same premature decline.

This prognosis leaves us with a fundamental question: What will be the model for future offline and online advertising? Let’s face it: A truly interactive Internet advertising model has yet to be found. Web advertising, like all marketing via all media, has been confined to monologue-oriented techniques and, thus, has been tolerated rather than accepted by consumers. The result is that finding alternative advertising techniques is now a priority on the media planner’s agenda.

Of course, there’s still a huge role for monologic, even didactic, advertising. For many consumers and traditional clients, broadcast and print media still constitute preferred marketing fora. But because its results are weakening, conventional marketing techniques are coming at an increasingly high price.

Alternative marketing venues and communication techniques are thus inevitable necessities. The simple six-media marketing plan, incorporating TV, print, outdoor, radio, point-of-sale (POS), and Internet promotions, will have to include 30 or 40 media avenues. This plethora of channels, a mixture of traditionally recognizable ones and those that are yet to be thought of, will result in complex media plans and yield effective results. Such plans will combine unexpected channels with consistent brand messages.

Consistency in the brand’s message, voice, and promise will unite its image across media channels and be essential for acquiring desired market share. No longer will TV, print, outdoor, radio, POS, or Internet promotions assume advertising leadership. The media planner will act as a media real estate broker, combining marketing investments in complicated portfolios of multitudinous venues.

Brands won’t prosper on single, strong media blasts. Their unique messages will depend on consistent, repeated, and versatile delivery for their effectiveness – unless the blast is really big. Do you reckon Russia’s planning to launch any rockets in the next couple of weeks?

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