Colonel Sanders Is My Co-Pilot. Or What Advertising Looks Like In 2016.

I’m in my car. A lot. To help navigate traffic and, well, traffic, I’ve been using Waze. Do you know Waze? It’s pretty cool.

It’s user generated, real time traffic and route input. I’ve found it highly useful. I’ve also become a big fan of SpotHero to manage parking in downtown Chicago.

Anyway, the reason I’m writing about Waze here is not to swoon over it’s usefulness, rather to use it to illustrate the state of the art of advertising in 2016.

One of the effective features of Waze is voice directions. Not anything new or amazing about that. However, when you go into the settings and customize the voice to your liking, one of the choices is Colonel Sanders. Or more accurately, Darrell Hammond as the voice of Colonel Sanders. And for the last two weeks Colonel Sanders/Darrell Hammond has been my co-pilot. And it’s been fun.

So what?

So this is what advertising looks, or sounds, like now.

Let me break it down.

First, instead of an “ad”, that annoying thing that interrupts something I am enjoying, this enhances something useful I depend on.

Second, I choose to have Colonel Sanders be my Waze voice. I have willingly allowed this brand mascot (at this point that’s the only way I know how to describe him) to be an integral part of my daily commute and routine. He’s not interrupting anything, he’s helping me navigate the Edens. And yes, I’m an ad nerd, so I bet you’re wondering if non-ad nerds choose to have Colonel Sanders as their Waze voice. Yes they do. See below.

Third, and this is important to a lot of marketing and business people, having his voice talk to me, in my car as I drive past a KFC does in fact influence me to consider going to one. I’m not above admitting that. I’m not a strict health nut, but neither am I somebody who normally eats KFC. However, in all honesty, if Colonel Sanders/Darrell Sanders romanced chicken and/or incentivized me to pull over, I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it. Just saying.

This made me think of all the possibilities of how “advertising” can and is evolving, in ways that are much more useful, enjoyable, entertaining and way less irritating than an “ad”. This is advertising evolving into creative marketing. Way more interesting than where we were even just five years ago.

I can hear the cynical saying “This is progress? Colonel Sanders? Really?”

Yeah, really. When I choose to engage with advertising instead of vice versa, yes it’s progress.

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