marketing ad agency

Pretentious, sarcastic, and genuine perspectives on anything Marketing

Month: September, 2012

My name is BILL

Hello. My name is Bill, and I am bored. I think I am going to talk about billboards to make me less bored.

I bet none of my avid followers knew I could be such a “lyrical wordsmith” (credit to South Park for that phrase). But sadly, I am not just here to flaunt my poetic ingenuity. I would actually like to have an intellectual conversation about billboards and discuss MarketingAdAgencies perspective on them. So if you consider yourself to be intelligent, then please stay for the discussion after you have humbled yourself.

There is a certain beauty in billboards that can be found in its simplicity. Stripped of everything else, billboards represent the most basic form of advertisement (unless you want to add a town crier to the equation). But just as technology has taken a giant leap forward in advancement, so have the ideas and ingenuity behind billboards—but herein lies the problem; as do all things in life, the basic principles behind effective billboards has been diluted with an overemphasis in creativity and one upping your competitors in cleverness. After doing what I do best—which is aimlessly browsing the internet for “research”, I have begun to see a similar theme in billboards that I deem to be effective and creative. If you would be so kind as to indulge my intellectual ego, I would like to discuss my findings.

Preliminary Requirements:

Before the actual design of the billboard takes place, it is extremely important to understand two basic baselines. The first is that you must never assume ANYTHING from the consumer; whether this is assuming they will take a certain action, or assuming that they will understand something that is not explicitly communicated to them. In the picture below, you can see a billboard that made two assumptions. The first, is that they assumed the viewers knew what KI was. The second is that they assumed the viewers would go to the website in order to satisfy their curiosity. Even now, looking at this billboard, I have no idea what it is promoting, let along if a particular company is promoting it.

The second baseline, is that a billboard must be used as a secondary form of advertisement only, and cannot be expected to effectively persuade the population. Billboards must be used in congruence with other marketing efforts to be proven effective. So as long as you keep these two baselines in mind and follow the basic principles listed below, you will be more likely to produce an effective billboard.

Company name or Logo:

Please, pretty please, with a cherry on top, if you are going to spend finances on a billboard, then Pahhh-Leeease put your company name or logo on the billboard, and if you have already done that, then please make it viewable and readable. As you can see below, the company name is clearly printed on the billboard, but is hard to read due to the fact that it is….UPSIDE DOWN!

Clean and Simple

Taking into account that the majority of your viewers will be driving, It is extremely important to resist the urge to have a cluttered billboard packed with company information. To repeat what I said before, your billboard is a secondary advertisement outlet and should only be used to reinforce prior marketing efforts. To this end, your billboard should be concise with a simple message or a supporting message.

Attention Grabbing

Just because you have a massive billboard on display, does not necessarily mean that a passerby will take notice to it. It will take something special to make the public give your billboard a second glance. Contrasting colors, massive extending billboards, flickering lights, and odd shaped billboards are just a few simple ideas for quick attention grabbing billboards.


Lastly, your billboard should be creative. If you have done everything else correct, then the creativity and design of the advertisement should be enough to make the billboard memorable. One quote that I loved reading said to “make the billboard creative, but not too creative”. This relates back to the clean and simple principle, along with the “don’t assume your target will understand your witty message” principle. This is probably the most difficult aspect of the billboard design, as you want the creativity to leave a lasting message, but not too creative so that the majority of viewers have no idea what you are trying to communicate.

I have browsed many billboards online now, and have been impressed with the growing amount of creativity put into each billboard. Some with optical illusions and others with compelling images. But despite how creative these billboards are, some of them still lack the effective nudge that is needed to be persuasive. Luckily, after many years of collaboration with the MarketingAdAgency committee (extensive exaggeration), I am pleased to announce that we have found a billboard that have embraced all the basic principles of a good billboard, and earns the highly coveted MarkeintAdAgencies “Stamp of Approval”.

-Company name or Logo clearly visible? (Yes)

-Clean and Simple? (Yes)

-Attention Grabbing? (Double Yes)

-Creative? (H*ll Yes!)

Along with fulfilling all of these principles, the billboard is simply there to support other advertisement attempts McDonalds has previously launched to promote their late night hours.

TL:DR; McDonald’s billboard is a perfect example of what an effective billboard should look like.

Cheers to good Marketing!


The Chip Renaissance

TL;DR at bottom

Imagine a world where Justin Bieber did not exist, kittens and puppies never grew up, and dinner plates were sold in vending machines. This would truly be a Utopian society, one that humanity has never seen the likes of. It would be called the Bieber Renaissance, and everyone would be happy. But sadly…Justin Bieber does exist, kittens and puppies do grow old, and vending machines don’t sell….Wait what’s that you say? Vending machines do sell dinner plates?

-But why?!?

-Because we can!

-But how?!?

-Well allow me to explain…

The owners of Corelle, World Kitchen, wanted to advertise their unique selling proposition (USP) to the public. In case you didn’t know, (But we all already did) Corelle produces dishes and bowls that are made from a unique material called Vintrelle, which is a laminated tempered glass chemically bonded to three separate layers. It is this unique material that allows Corelle products to be lightweight, durable, stackable, fade resistant, machine washable, and most importantly…Chip and Break Resistant. It is this last fact that Corelle bases it’s USP, and it is this USP that Corelle wishes to inform the public.

So what did Corelle do to advertise to the public? Well they constructed a vending machine that dispenses dishware to the public…DUH!

Grey Group China (Grey for short) was the ad agency responsible for this clever marketing campaign, which was launched in China. Once you watch the video, it is easy to see why the advertisement got such a positive response from the public. But to the well trained marketing genius (That is me); creativity only gets you in the door. I am a huge proponent of creativity with a purpose, and believe that good advertisement must not only be creative, but effective. Thankfully, this Corelle advertisement meets both of those requirements.

There are three things in particular that I want to point out which I think make this a brilliant marketing advertisement.


I cannot comment on the exact locations of the vending machines, but from what I have read; there was more then one vending machine, and the locations were chosen based on high traffic areas with a high likelihood of Corelle’s targeted demographic to be in presence.

Attention Grabbing:

Due to the bizarre nature of the vending machine, it’s physical presence serves as an attention grabbing display. I would bet that even if costumers did not purchase a dinner plate, the creativity of the vending machine would be enough to prompt “top-of-mind” purchase.

Experiencing USP:

Most of all…why this is such an ingenious ad is because of the vending machines ability to allow customers to physically experience the unique selling proposition of Corelle’s durable and chip resistant dishes.

I know the more pessimistic readers mumbling underneath their breath right now are probably saying, “But if the plates do break in the vending machine?” Heh, well I guess you’ll just have to buy the plates and find out! (After doing some more blogging investigation, I have come to learn that Corelle dishware increased by 20% the first month this ad campaign was initiated)

TL;DR: Corelle has come out with a creative vending machine to promote their durable dishware.

Cheers to good Marketing!


QR oh QR– Why have you forsaken me?

Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR) at bottom

Allow me to start this brief post with a true story that occurred to me a few weeks ago.

The story begins as all great stories do… with a hankering for some cultural stimulation that just cannot be satisfied with a cup of Earl Gray tea. I decided to embark on a journey with the simple goal of satisfying this urge. My destination was the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, and as my stallion Silverado was not in riding condition and my Ferrari in the car shop, my only choice was to ride the DC metro. As my journey continued, I soon found myself on the whimsical tracks that carried thousands of consumers to their destinations daily. The journey was long, and I had only my trusted smart phone and sense of adventure to keep my sanity strong. Any other man would have succumbed to the situation, but I managed to weather the storm in a manner that would make Homer in the Odyssey proud. As the sunlight flickered through the windows and glimpses of billboards and buildings flashed before me, I was soon mesmerized by the creative attempts of some marketing ploy no doubt. As my focus grew stronger and my vision steady, I examined what appeared to be an advertisement posted on the metro. There were words and pictures on the ad that looked like any other, but in the corner was a box that made it one out of the others. It was a QR code, just waiting to be scanned, and my curiosity got the best of me, as it always seems to do. I pulled out my trusted sidekick, you know him as smart phone, and I proudly scanned the QR code with great anticipation. This would be my first time using the QR app, as embarrassing as that sounds, but it seemed so right to use my app in a celebration of spontaneity. As my camera focused in and the bar code matched up, the QR was successfully scanned and….


As I stood their defeated with my head hung low, I put my sidekick back in my pocket and muttered… “QR oh QR, why have you forsaken me?”

So, while this story may have been over dramatized and certain facts exaggerated (Stallion named Silverado?), the takeaway of the story is relevant and important. Are QR codes effective marketing tools? Well, I am a fan of the idea and I appreciate the enhanced user involvement and emotional investment that it creates for the consumer, but not every creative idea is a practical idea, and not every practical idea is utilized effectively. You have to ask yourself who and why did they choose to use QR advertisement in an area that has relatively no G signal.

Now I know many of you tech savvy readers are probably pulling your hair out, screaming at me, telling me that the QR links are saved and that I am not properly utilizing the apps potential. But there are two things I want you to keep in mind.

  1. During the actual incident, I instantly became frustrated with the app and automatically created a negative association with the company that sponsored the Ad for their lack of judgment.
  2. I rarely use half the apps on my phone, and as I said before, this was my first time using the QR scanner app even though I have had it for a few months now. The chances of me remembering or even wanting to check the QR link later is highly improbable.

The great thing about good observations is that other people are bound to share your ideas and frustrations. I think the video below can somewhat explain my frustration with poorly placed ads such as the QR code.

TL;DR: QR codes are a creative marketing tool if used effectively and practically.

Cheers to good Marketing!