Media choice: Beer mats




CREATIVE: Wolff Olins


DURATION: One month

As any good media planner will tell you, one of the most efficient ways

to reach 18- to 24-year-old adults is in a pub. This group are twice as

likely to be heavy pub goers than the average person.

But a pub? Do you really need your message perched over a urinal - being

viewed in close-up alcohol-enduced double-vision? Well, fortunately

there is an alternative: beer mats are big business, with over 11

million having been placed so far in 1997.

Obviously, attention level scores are not going to be high, but if

that’s your communication objective then I suggest you do not use it. A

quick look at some of the advertisers who use the medium should give you

a clue: Bravo TV, Polydor, Virgin, Playboy TV, and the latest to hit the

bar, Scoot (the relaunched Talking Pages).

This is a truly ambient medium where the environment and feel should

reinforce the message and not detract from it. Which is why it works

well for Scoot.

For most, Scoot is a mystery. The message on the beer mat teases you to

phone the number - a mechanism that will not work against an older,

advertising-literate audience. Given the difficulty in reading this

group of people and their general indifference to commercial messages,

the mats have to be funny and original - like Guinness, which used them

as mini posters.

I liked the multiple-choice questionnaire on the back of the Scoot beer

mat. After a few pints, curry, taxi, bouncy castle and relationship

counsellor are all pretty appealing options.

As with any niche medium, somebody has smelt a profit and they are

starting to sell it properly. You can now buy any shape of mat -

circular, rectangular, CD-size, or star-shaped. You can also target a

certain type of drinker. Perhaps you fancy the ’urban bar’ drinker

darling or the ’community pubs’ drinker, for your traditional stouts and

ales man.

Either way, this is a fun way to talk to younger people when they are

off duty. However, I am trying to avoid the one nagging question: are

the ones who notice beer mats not just sad people drinking alone?


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