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Most ambient advertising really annoys people

Most ambient advertising really annoys people
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First Published: Tue, Aug 19 2008. 12 04 AM IST

Interactivity: Daniela Krautsack thinks legislation against hoardings will be seen in a lot more cities. Photograph: Ritam Banerji / Mint
Interactivity: Daniela Krautsack thinks legislation against hoardings will be seen in a lot more cities. Photograph: Ritam Banerji / Mint
Updated: Tue, Aug 19 2008. 12 04 AM IST
Mumbai: Daniela Krautsack is the founder and communications strategist for Cows in Jackets, a new Austrian agency that specializes in non traditional media, mainly out-of-home and what is known in ad industry as ambient work, as in ads that appear in more unusual places such as back of airline tickets and images projected onto buildings. This former strategic media
Interactivity: Daniela Krautsack thinks legislation against hoardings will be seen in a lot more cities. Photograph: Ritam Banerji / Mint
planner from England, who’s known globally for her work in ambient media, noticed that one of the first ambient media ideas was a farmer who rented out his cows in England to companies. What he did was to spray company logos onto cows and that’s how the name Cows in Jackets came about. Cows is the metaphor for everything that’s innovative in marketing while the jacket changes constantly. The jacket can be a new brand, a new fashion style, a new development, Krautsack said in an interview. Edited excerpts:
On big issues facing out-of-home advertising
The main issue in ambient media is clutter; every big city in the world faces this problem. All the ambient media forms added in the last decade, which includes phone boxes, stencils in the street, sampling postcards being distributed, construction sites, sky advertising, are what people face when they are not in their first contact point (home) or second contact point (workplace). They experience this type of advertising in their third world, that is, when they are simply walking or doing leisure activities. What we tend to forget is that people need their relaxed moments. Unfortunately, most ambient advertising is developed in a way, which really annoys people. When it reaches that level, consumers ignore it and secondly, they are aggressive against it. An example is Sao Paulo and its Clean City Law where all billboards were taken down in the city-centre — not just billboards but also shop-signs and ads on taxis and buses.
The entire out-of-home industry disappeared in the course of a few weeks. People don’t want to be hammered by advertising; they still want to see architecture in the city. It’s better for the industry to think of possibilities that brighten up the city and accentuate the architecture such as neons and LED (light emitting diode) screens.
On interactivity in this space
Globally, ambient advertising is going in the direction of interactivity. For instance, screen technology, mobile-tagging technology. Quick Response (QR) codes were initially seen in Japan and has now travelled to Europe and the US. (QR code is a two-dimensional bar code. A user with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader software can scan the image of the QR code causing the phone’s browser to launch and redirect to a site’s url.)
I have seen so many international advertisers that are looking to jump on the bandwagon. The way QR codes work is that telephone operators incorporate software to scan those codes onto hardware/ mobile devices. Consumers can then use applications in place of downloading them from the Internet, which is said to be difficult for an older target audience. My Nokia mobile has QR ability, or mobile tagging. The big advantage is that it allows us to reduce the poster to what it originally was: a medium to generate images but totally reducing the content. Another form of advertising that I see at festivals is a billboard talking to people who wait for bus, train, etc.
You can make these interactive such as a touch screen, etc. and wave your hand and play with the billboard. It’s about entertainment, not just “buy me, buy me”. Social responsibility causes are also kicking in. Large companies take the responsibility to talk about the problems of certain communities, green movement, etc.
Some billboards have facial recognition ability. They can recognize some facial points — such as you are a woman. They might be smart enough to see that this woman has a certain skin type, so it must be a younger woman. According to these different determinations, you might have products advertised to you. If I am under 40 years, they might advertise Dove to me. If I am an older woman, they might advertise a different product. The Minority Report film was not so long ago, and we are living it already.
On work that impresses and doesn’t in ambient media
Adidas has created a mantra for the brand, “Impossible is Nothing”, which I find very appealing. What they realized is that that USP is something that most people can identify with. Globally, they’ve carried out an ambient execution where they had cut-out of vertical football players hanging down a green background (which looked more like a football field.) Similarly in another execution in Germany, they had the German goalkeeper—a cut out of him and it looked like he’s taking a jump across the airport driveway. It was so unusual.
Ambient media alone will never have the same effect, unless it’s connected to some other media and recognizable in what it tries to tell you. An example of bad work is a Rugby World Cup final when a mobile phone brand advertised itself on someone’s naked body.
Usually, during games, you have these naked people who run in and try and interrupt the game. This company was advertising a certain tariff. Everyone saw it, but it also annoyed people because it disturbed the game. I am told that even the team of the country where this happened lost that day.
On legislation against hoardings in various Indian metros
Going forward, I see this happening in a lot more cities and countries. Consumers say “its too much” and then city officials say “Yes, it is… Let’s get rid of it.” It’s up to the advertising and media industry to understand that adding new sites is not the answer. We need to get rid of that obvious clutter and try and work together. It is a sort of self-regulation. If you look at Sao Paulo, there were a $100 million lost in ad revenue in out-of-home (as per the Internet), and it sounds dramatic for companies that rented out billboards. It’s tragic for those who sell space.
In 20 years, we might move through Mumbai and find that most of the outdoor hoardings have gone. They may be replaced by holograms, or another form of advertising that you might see that might be customized or tailored to you as a person.
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First Published: Tue, Aug 19 2008. 12 04 AM IST