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