Alan Simmons, Managing director, Concord

Alan Simmons, Managing director, Concord

Filling my car at service station recently I was struck by the simple

brilliance of advertising on petrol pump handles as a point-of-sale

medium. I had little choice but to stare for three minutes at a small ad

for Coca-Cola fixed squarely on the pump I was holding. There I was, a

captive audience member, being precisely prompted to purchase the

biggest-selling soft drink from the forecourt shop. Luckily for me, my

children did not spot it.

Fortunately enough, thanks to some EC rule I suppose, a small segment of

the ad was given over to describing the fuel. This gave the impression

that, happily for all of us, Coke is unleaded too.

Petrol pump ads are one example of a whole range of new media

opportunities that we at Concord now call ‘Ambient Media’.

Other examples include painted buses and taxis, airships, shopping and

airport trolleys, golf holes and tees,TV screens on buses and ads on

vertical ‘step risers’ on the steps at Underground stations. Now talking

shelf devices may be introduced in supermarket aisles.

Over the past year new frontiers have been pioneered by companies such

as Mastercard, which slotted a series of ads in among the train times on

the departure boards at mainline railway stations, and 3M, with its

colour train operating out of Liverpool Street.

Such ambient media seem to have little in common bar their diversity and

originality. They are neither fish, flesh nor fowl, as far as

traditional outdoor posters are concerned. But they are united by their

capacity for use as part of a proper campaign.

This excludes various PR-led stunts like the recent projection of a

Wispa message on to the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. No, what we are

looking for in the new breed of ambient media are consistently

‘campaignable’ opportunities: buyers and sellers must be able to trade

regularly in them and develop markets while planners should strive to

knit them in with their conventional outdoor schedules.

Ads on petrol pump handles are indicative of a general trend towards

ambient media entering the mainstream that marketers would do well to



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